No Spanking in Sweden

Did you know spanking was outlawed in Sweden in the late 70s? 

That’s right.  It’s illegal in the country of Sweden to spank, slap, swat, or switch a child.  They were the first country to do so, but in the 30 years that have since passed, over 20 other countries have followed suit.

Proponents say that the law protects adults from being hit by others, and so logically it should protect children equally.  The abolishment of spanking is a human rights issue, they say.  It’s about protecting children from violence.

While Sweden has been lauded by many, its spank-free zone is not without its critics.  Opponents say that parents and teachers are unable to maintain proper authority over children, and even claim (though it has been disputed) that child abuse and juvenile crime have both increased since the ban.

While many would think I side with the proponents, given my stance in this previous post, I’m actually somewhere in between. 

Spanking is not good practice and I agree with much of the philosophy behind the ban, but the ban itself is not something I favor.  Simply telling people what they can’t do won’t necessarily cause them to do what they should.  It’s the same when working with kids – you have to Say What You Need to See.

Parents generally use the best tools they know how to use when raising their children.  I don’t think many parents really intentionally settle for anything less than the best for their children.  So, if a parent is using spanking as a parenting tool, it’s safe to say that they feel it is one of the best tools —if not the only tool—they have.  While the claims of more abuse and more juvenile delinquency have been argued, I could see how parents, who had possibly lost the only tool they knew how to use, would either resort to permissive parenting or abusive parenting as a response to feeling stripped of their tools — helpless and powerless. 

In my view, the problem is not best addressed by binding parents’ hands and keeping them from negative parenting, but by teaching them how to effectively parent from a positive approach.  If you teach people how to use better tools, they will likely abandon the less effective tool on their own—without the controversial ban.

What is your “go-to” parenting tool?

Read more about Positive Guidance HERE.

Top photo by Beniamin Pop.

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Filed under Positive Guidance and Social Skills, Uncategorized

7 Responses to No Spanking in Sweden

  1. This is so interesting. I’ve reposted this on my Friday Favorites today.

  2. Pingback: Weekend Reading: Spanking, Racy Language and Fear (Oh My!) | Waldorf Education | Waldorf Toys | Natural Parenting

  3. Tara

    Depending on the situation I usually give a first warning for bad behaviour and then follow through with a time out or a toy confiscation-which ever suits the situation. The toy can be earned back eventually with good behaviour.
    My boy is 5 years old and these methods have worked well for us.

  4. TealRose

    Hmm. Would you say that .. making wife beating illegal stopped it ….? Husbands are not now allowed to rape wives – despite the difficulty of charging them … but because it is a GOOD law .. it is in place. Just like the one that we have in place that says adults may not be hit. I fail to see why children should not have the same safety under the law and it makes me so very very sad.

    I don’t see spanking as a ‘tool’ to use with children as much as a weapon and as such deserves no place in parenting. It is about time parenting was taught rather than left up to the vagaries of how we ourselves were brought up.

    I believe in Sweden parents that are found out to be spanking their children are made to go to parenting lessons … not made into criminals. THAT only happens if they refuse to stop and are found to have continued.

  5. justnormal

    Or Maybe the parents had to learn how to use different methods that does not humiliate and hurt a child, spanking has proved to hurt children psychologically long termed. This is not some pretend mumbojumbo, it’s fact. Parents who hit their child lacks compassion.

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