Last updated: October 2017
Flag of Isle of Man Country report for Isle of Man

Summary of law reform necessary to achieve full prohibition

Prohibition is still to be achieved in the home, alternative care settings and day care.

The right of parents to administer “reasonable chastisement” is recognised under English common law and in article 1 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1966. This defence should be repealed, together with any confirmations of this right in written legislation, and prohibition should be enacted of all corporal punishment by all persons with authority over children.

Alternative care settings – Prohibition should be enacted in legislation applicable to all alternative care settings (foster care, institutions, places of safety, emergency care, etc).

Day care – Corporal punishment should be prohibited in all early childhood care (nurseries, crèches, kindergartens, preschools, family centres, etc) and all day care for older children (day care, after-school childcare, childminding, etc).

Legality of corporal punishment

Home

Corporal punishment is lawful in the home, where parents may exercise “reasonable chastisement” under English common law. This is confirmed in the Children and Young Persons Act 1966: article 1 punishes cruelty to persons under 16 but also states: “(7) Nothing in this section shall be construed as affecting the right of any parent, teacher, or other person having the lawful control or charge of a child or young person to administer punishment to him.” Provisions against violence and abuse in the Children and Young Persons Act 2001 and in criminal law are not interpreted as prohibiting corporal punishment in childrearing.

The UK’s state party report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child in 2014 states that in the Isle of Man there are currently “no plans to reconsider the position in relation to corporal punishment by parents or legal guardians in the home”.[1] The UK Government states in the report that it “does not condone any violence towards children and has clear laws to deal with it” but “our view is that a mild smack does not constitute violence”.[2] A similar statement was made to the Human Rights Committee in 2015.[3] The UK Government has on three occasions rejected recommendations to prohibit all corporal punishment of children made during the Universal Periodic Review of the UK (see below).

 

Alternative care settings

Corporal punishment is prohibited in some but not all forms of care. Under article 53 of the Children and Young Persons Act 2001 – which applies to children’s homes, fostering, childminding and day care – the Department may make regulations to provide “for the control and discipline” in children’s homes but it does not specify that these should exclude corporal punishment and is silent on the issue with respect to other forms of care. The Children’s Home Regulations 2002 under the Act state in article 13: “… the following measures shall not be used on a child accommodated in a children’s home – (a) any form of corporal punishment….”

The Regulation of Care Act 2013, which includes provisions including registration requirements aimed at protecting children in children’s homes, residential family centres, foster care, voluntary adoptions schemes and health-related settings does not prohibit corporal punishment. However, it states in article 9 that all registered persons “must ensure that the care service meets all minimum standards applicable to the care service”. The Fostering Services Minimum Standards state that it must be made clear to the foster carer(s) “that corporal punishment is not acceptable and that this includes smacking, shaking and all other humiliating forms of treatment or punishment” (standard 9.4).

 

Day care

Corporal punishment is possibly unlawful in preschools under the Education (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 (unconfirmed) (see under “Schools”) but it is not prohibited in other early childhood care and in day care for older children. Under article 53 of the Children and Young Persons Act 2001 – which applies to children’s homes, fostering, childminding and day care – the Department may make regulations to provide “for the control and discipline” in children’s homes but it does not specify that these should exclude corporal punishment and is silent on the issue with respect to other forms of care.

The Regulation of Care Act 2013, which includes provisions including registration requirements aimed at protecting children in day care centres and childminding settings does not prohibit corporal punishment. However, it states in article 9 that all registered persons “must ensure that the care service meets all minimum standards applicable to the care service”. Minimum standards state that physical punishment must not be used in day care centres (Child Day Care Centres Minimum Standards 2014, standard 11.4) and childminding (Childminding Minimum Standards 2014, standard 9.2).

 

Schools

Corporal punishment is prohibited in state schools in article 10 of the Education Act 2001: “School discipline. The articles of government of a provided school or maintained school … (b) shall specify the penalties (which shall not include corporal punishment) which may be imposed on a pupil for any misbehaviour….” The Education Act was subsequently amended by the Education (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 with the insertion of a new article 53A which extends the prohibition to all schools, including private schools: “(1) Corporal punishment given by, or on the authority of, a teacher to a minor — (a) for whom education is provided at any school, or (b) for whom education is provided, otherwise than at school, under any arrangements made by the Department, cannot be justified in any proceedings on the ground that it was given in pursuance of a right exercisable by the teacher by virtue of his or her position as such. (2) Subsection (1) applies to corporal punishment so given to a minor at any time, whether at the school or other place at which education is provided for the minor or elsewhere. (3) For the purposes of this section — (a) any reference to giving corporal punishment to a minor is to doing anything for the purpose of punishing that minor (whether or not there are other reasons for doing it) which, apart from any justification, would constitute battery; but (b) corporal punishment shall not be taken to be given to a minor by virtue of anything done for the purpose of preventing personal injury to, or damage to the property of, any person (including the minor himself or herself). (4) In this section ‘teacher’, in relation to a minor, means a teacher who works at the school or other place at which education is provided for the minor, and includes any person who works or otherwise provides services there (whether or not for payment) and has lawful control or charge of the minor.”

 

Penal institutions

Corporal punishment is unlawful as a disciplinary measure in penal institutions. Article 16(1) of the Custody Act 1995, provides for the Department of Home Affairs to make rules (“custody rules”) “for the regulation and management of every institution”. Article 17(1) of the Act states: “Custody rules shall not … (d) authorise corporal punishment to be inflicted in an institution.” Article 37 of the Secure Care Home Custody Rules 2002, pursuant to the Custody Act 1995, states: “(1) Order and discipline shall be maintained in the home, but with no more restriction than is required in the interests of security and well-ordered community life. (2) In the control of detainees, care workers shall seek to influence them through their own example and leadership, and to enlist their willing cooperation.” Article 40 addresses the use of force: “(1) A care worker in dealing with a detainee shall not use force unnecessarily and, when the application of force to a detainee is necessary, no more force than is necessary shall be used….” Article 41(1) states that physical restraint may be used only to prevent the detainee from “(a) escaping from custody, (b) injuring himself or others, (c) damaging property, or (d) inciting another detainee to do anything specified in (a), (b) or (c)”.

 

Sentence for crime

Corporal punishment is unlawful as a sentence for crime. Provisions allowing the higher criminal courts to impose a sentence of corporal punishment on male offenders as young as 10 years of age were repealed in article 61 of the Criminal Justice Act 2001: “Abolition of whipping.(1) The power of the Court of General Gaol Delivery to sentence a person to be whipped is abolished. (2) The following enactments (which deal with the sentence of whipping) are repealed — (a) sections 14, 15 and 20 of the Criminal Justice Act 1963; and (b) section 31(8) of the Criminal Jurisdiction Act 1993.” There is no provision for judicial corporal punishment in the Administration of Justice Act 2008 or the Children and Young Persons Act 2001.

 

Universal Periodic Review of the UK’s human rights record

The UK was examined in the first cycle of the Universal Periodic Review in 2008 (session 1). The following recommendations were made:[4]

“To consider further measures in order to address the problem of violence against children, including corporal punishment. (Italy)

“To reconsider its position about the continued legality of corporal punishment against children. (Sweden)

“To consider going beyond current legislation and to ban corporal punishment, also in the private sector and in its Overseas Territories. (France)”

The Government rejected the recommendations, stating that it sees no need for law reform since it believes the current law is working well, parents should be allowed to discipline children and surveys show that the use of corporal punishment in childrearing has declined.[5] It accepted the recognition to consider going beyond current legislation in relation to protecting children from violence but rejected “the implication that it is failing in this regard through the application of its policy on corporal punishment”.[6]

Examination in the second cycle of the UPR took place in 2012 (session 13). The following recommendations were made:[7]

“Reconsider its position about the continued legality of corporal punishment of children (Sweden);

“Take measures to ensure the freedom of children from physical punishment in accordance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child (Norway);

“Introduce a ban on all corporal punishment of children as recommended by the CRC and other treaty bodies (Finland)”

The Government rejected the recommendations.[8]

The UK’s third cycle examination took place in 2017 (session 27). The following recommendations were made:[9]

“In all devolved administrations, overseas territories and Crown dependencies, prohibit all corporal punishment in the family, including through the repeal of all legal defences, such as “reasonable chastisement” (Liechtenstein);

“Ensure that corporal punishment is explicitly prohibited in all schools and educational institutions and all other institutions and forms of alternative care (Liechtenstein);

“Prohibit corporal punishment in all settings, including the family (Ireland);

“Reconsider its position on the legality of corporal punishment of children (Mongolia);

“Ban corporal punishment of children to ensure the full protection and freedom from violence for all children (Sweden);

“Consider prohibiting corporal punishment against children and ensure that it is explicitly prohibited in all schools and educational institutions, and all other institutions and forms of alternative care (Croatia);

“Take further actions in protecting the rights of the child by prohibiting all corporal punishment of children as required by the convention of the Rights of Child (Estonia)”

The Government rejected all seven recommendations, stating: “the UK does not condone any violence towards children and has clear laws to deal with it. The ‘reasonable chastisement’ defence in s.58 Children Act 2004 cannot be used when someone is charged with assault causing actual or grievous bodily harm, or with child cruelty. Parents should not be criminalised for giving a child a mild smack in order to control their behaviour. The Crown Dependencies currently follow a similar approach to the UK. The decision on whether to prohibit corporal punishment and in what settings in the Overseas Territories is a decision, ultimately, for Territory governments. The UK Government is keen to support those Territories who wish to move away from the use of corporal punishment and explore alternative measures, including the development of positive parenting strategies and effective behaviour management techniques.”[10]


Prevalence/attitudinal research for Isle of Man in the last 10 years

None identified.

Footnotes

[1] [2014], CRC/C/GBR/5, Fifth state party report, annex

[2] ibid., para. 11

[3] [n.d.], CCPR/C/GBR/Q/7/Add.1, Advance Unedited Version, Reply to list of issues, para. 161

[4] 23 May 2008, A/HRC/8/25, Report of the working group, paras. 56(2), 56(3), 56(4) and 56(5)

[5] 23 May 2008, A/HRC/8/25, Report of the working group, para. 25

[6] 25 August 2008, A/HRC/8/25/Add.1, Report of the working group: Addendum, paras. 28, 29 and 30

[7] 6 July 2012, A/HRC/21/9, Report of the working group, paras. 110(78), 10(79) and 110(80)

[8] 17 September 2012, A/HRC/21/9/Add.1, Report of the working group: Addendum, annex

[9] 8 May 2017, A/HRC/WG.6/27/L.7, Draft report of the working group, unedited version, paras. 6(193), 6(194), 6(195), 6(196), 6(197), 6(198) and 6(199)

[10] 7 September 2017, A/HRC/36/9/Add.1, Report of the working group: addendum, para. 3; see also 29 August 2017, Annex to the response to the recommendations received on 4 May 2017

Child population

16,214 (Government of the Isle of Man, 2016)

National and regional advocacy for law reform

No known campaign for law reform

Forthcoming treaty body examinations and UPRs

Only the UN Convention Against Torture, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the UN Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights apply in the Isle of Man.

For information on upcoming examinations for the above treaty bodies, see the UK's online country report.

Notes

The Isle of Man is a British Crown Dependency. As such, it is not part of the UK and has no representation in Parliament. It is internally self-governing, with its own legislative assembly responsible for making primary and secondary domestic legislation, the former requiring Royal Assent or Sanction. It has its own administrative, fiscal and legal system and its own courts of law. The UK Government is responsible for the Isle of Man’s defence and international relations. The British Crown, acting through the Privy Council, is ultimately responsible for the good government of the Isle of Man.

According to the UK’s 2014 Common Core Document, the following treaties apply in the Isle of Man: the European Convention on Human Rights, the European Social Charter, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the UN Convention against Torture, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

For extracts from the concluding observations of treaty bodies concerning corporal punishment of children, see the downloadable country reports for the Isle of Man accessible via the links above or go to the UK country report.

This is an automatic translation service. Extracts from laws, treaty body recommendations and Universal Periodic Review outcomes are unofficial translations.