This is a section of a line, the 68th of a long bill, but it has its importance: the law on Equality and citizenship, adopted on 22 December last year, is now introducing in the civil code, “the exclusion of any cruel, degrading or humiliating” towards the children, “including any use of violence on the body”.
Consequence: the spanking and the slaps are now prohibited, as is verbal abuse. A decision welcomed by the associations as the Foundation for the child or the Observatoire de la violence educative ordinaire (Oveo).
But in reality, the measure is mainly symbolic. Because the text of the law does not provide for any criminal sanction for parents who would be surprised to administer a spanking to their child. Now, the excerpts from the civil code concerned will be read at the town hall, at weddings, and will also be affixed in booklets of family.
France wants to “create an awareness”
in this text, France will first “create awareness and change the attitudes of adults toward children,” according to the Oveo. For Laurence Rossignol, minister of Families, it is a “vital tool for the prevention of child abuse”. In France, 85% of parents say spanking.
The text also responds to the remonstrances of the Council of Europe, which has repeatedly ruled that the French legislation on corporal punishment was “too blurry”. France is back in the rank.
“The vote of this amendment allows the benefit of a fund of 1.7 million euros to finance the activities of training, awareness-raising and analysis necessary to the societal changes expected,” says Oveo.
sanctions against abuse exist
so far, the criminal code does provide sanctions against abuse of minors. Spanking, according to its criminal nature, can cost a mere fine or go to prison. Article 222-13 of the penal code, relating to vulnerable people, says that “The violence (…) are punishable by three years imprisonment and 45,000 euros fine on a minor of fifteen years”.
The sentences may, however, be greatly increased if there are aggravating circumstances: if the violence took place inside or near a school for example, or if they are perpetrated by a person having authority over the minor.
In October 2013, a father was sentenced for “violence” for having administered a spanking hammering his 9 year old son who refused to say “hello”. He had been sentenced to 500 euro fine suspended, and 150 euros in damages and interest for “moral damage” to the mother of his child.