Prohibition of all corporal punishment in Venezuela (2007)
In December 2007, Venezuela enacted legislation which prohibits all corporal punishment of children, including in the home. A new article (article 32-A – “the right to good treatment”) was inserted into the Law for the Protection of Children and Adolescents which explicitly states that “all forms of physical and humiliating punishment are prohibited”. It puts an obligation on “parents, representatives, guardians, relatives, and teachers” to use “non-violent methods of education and discipline to raise and educate their children”, and places an obligation on the State to “ensure policies, programmes and protection measures are in place to abolish all forms of physical and humiliating punishment of children and young people”.
The stated purpose of the law is clear (unofficial translation):
A new human right – the right to be treated well – has been introduced to reinforce children and young people’s status as rights-holders, and to ensure the full recognition of their dignity and personal integrity. This right includes a non-violent upbringing and education, based on love, affection, mutual understanding and respect, and solidarity. In addition to an express ban on all forms of physical and humiliating punishment, fathers, mothers, representatives, guardians, relatives and teachers have an obligation to use non-violent methods to raise, train, educate and discipline children and young people, to ensure the implementation of this right. This new regulation is a step towards achieving abolition of all forms of abuse of children and young people, and building the legal foundations for a new and peaceful society."
The full text of article 32-A – which was approved by the National Assembly in February 2007 before finally being enacted in December – states:
All children and young people have a right to be treated well. This right includes a non-violent education and upbringing, based on love, affection, mutual understanding and respect, and solidarity.
Parents, representatives, guardians, relatives, and teachers should use non-violent methods of education and discipline to raise and educate their children. Consequently, all forms of physical and humiliating punishment are prohibited. The State, with the active participation of society, must ensure policies, programmes and protection measures are in place to abolish all forms of physical and humiliating punishment of children and young people.
Corporal punishment is defined as the use of force, in raising or educating children, with the intention of causing any degree of physical pain or discomfort to correct, control or change the behaviour of children and young people, provided that the act is not punishable.
Humiliating punishment can be understood as any form of offensive, denigrating, devaluing, stigmatising or mocking, treatment, carried out to raise or educate children and young people, with the aim of disciplining, controlling or changing their behaviour, provided that the act is not punishable."
Article 358 of the amended Law for the Protection of Children and Adolescents re-emphasises that the duties and rights of parents in childrearing exclude the use of corporal punishment:
The responsibility for raising children includes the shared duty and right, which is equal and non-derogable, of the father and mother to love, raise, train, educate, and look after their children, sustain and assist them financially, morally and emotionally, using appropriate corrective measures that do not violate their dignity, rights, guarantees or overall development. Consequently, all forms of physical punishment, psychological violence and humiliating treatment, which harm children and young people, are prohibited."
Corporal punishment had previously been lawful in the home and other settings under the Civil Code provisions which recognised the imposition of “adequate/moderate correction” by parents, guardians and tutors (articles 265 and 349) and by people or entities temporarily responsible for the care of the child or adolescent (article 396).