We Must Stop Hitting Children! Part 8 Human Rights Considerations By Kerby T. Alvy, Ph.D.

Part 8 Human Rights Considerations By Kerby T. Alvy, Ph.D.

Consensus is growing in the international community that physical punishment of children violates international human rights law.


This principle of law is set forth in at least seven multilateral human rights treaties, including

the United Nations (U.N.) Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC),

the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and

the U.N. Convention Against Torture (Torture Convention).

The United States has ratified (or accepted into law) and, therefore , is a party solely to the ICCPR and the Torture Convention.

For these two treaties, the U.N. Human Rights Committee oversees the monitoring of the ICCRP and the U.N. Committee Against Torture monitors the Torture Convention. Both of these committees have stated that the interdiction on “torture or other cruel, inhuman , or degrading treatment or punishment” included in both treaties requires a ban on physical punishment of children in any context.

The CRC is unique in being the first international treaty to focus solely on the physical, social, cultural, political and civil rights of children. The United States was among the countries that played a key role in the drafting of the Convention over a ten year period. The CRC has been ratified (or accepted into law) by at least 192 countries. Only two countries have signed but not ratified the treaty, Somalia and the United States.

Mom Slap Daughter

These groups have issued explicit statements that physical punishment is a form of “legalized violence against children” and have firmly condemned physical punishment, observing that, despite their vulnerable status, children are less protected than adults because they do not have the legal protection from assault.”

We encourage your comments and opinions below.


The NEW Confident Parenting is a book that discusses many of the issues surrounding the use of physical punishment and offers an entire program for raising children without ever having to use physical punishment.

The Effective Black Parenting and Los Ninos Bien Educados parenting programs provide similar guidance from cultural perspectives on hitting children.

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