Ban on slapping cuts down child homicides

January 7th, 2009 - 5:55 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Jan 7 (IANS) Ban on slapping cuts down child homicides dramatically as borne out by the case of Sweden. Similarly, a ban on smacking at home could prevent deaths arising from the physical abuse of children, accounting for more than a third of child homicides in New South Wales (NSW) alone, according to a study.

The study conducted by University of New South Wales (UNSW) School of Psychiatry and St Vincent’s Hospital, found child abuse was the reason for 59 of the 165 child homicides in NSW over the 15 years to 2005.

“The rate of child homicides in NSW is higher than other advanced countries, and 59 deaths from physical abuse in NSW is far too high,” said study co-author Olav Nielssen of UNSW School of Psychiatry.

Data from Europe suggests the continued acceptance of domestic corporal punishment in NSW could be contributing to child deaths. Domestic corporal punishment is banned in most European nations.

“There were no child homicides due to physical abuse in the 15 years after the prohibition of corporal punishment in Sweden, despite a higher number of other forms of homicide,” Nielssen said.

The authors used NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics data, court judgments and media reports to identify the cases of child homicide, said a UNSW release.

Two-thirds of the perpetrators of the homicides were men, who were often not the biological parent.

“Many were deeply remorseful immediately after the deaths. In most cases, their intention was not to kill the child, only to discipline it, but they did not have the necessary parenting skills,” said St Vincent’s Hospital’s Matthew Large.

The study was published in the Medical Journal of Australia.

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