Prevalence/attitudinal research in Sweden (last ten years)
A 2011 study which involved 2,500 parents of children aged 0-12 and 3,207 15-16 year olds, and was designed to follow up on similar studies carried out in 1980, 2000 and 2006, found that 92% of parents thought it was wrong to beat or slap a child. About 3% of parents had struck their child at some point during the past year, compared to 28% in 1980; 14% of 15-16 year olds said they had been hit by their parents at least once in their lifetime. Children with disabilities or chronic health problems were twice as likely to be beaten as children without disabilities. The study found no evidence that parents were replacing physical punishments with other humiliating punishments – rather, there was a strong connection between violent punishment and other humiliating treatment of children. The study examined various risk factors for experiencing corporal punishment and found that violence between adults in the family was the greatest risk factor: children in families where there was violence between adults were ten times as likely to be physically punished as children in families where there was no violence between adults.
(Janson, S. et al (2012), Corporal punishment and other humiliating behaviour towards children in Sweden – a national study 2011, Children’s Welfare Foundation & University of Karlstad)
A survey of 1,697 students aged 12-16 found that 76.7% thought “a child should never be corporally punished”; 9.7% thought “a child can be corporally punished using mild forms of punishment (e.g. smacking)”. More than eight in ten (83.8%) disagreed that “parents have a right to use mild forms of corporal punishment on their children (e.g. smacking)”, and 93.6% agreed “children must be protected from all forms of violence”.
(UNICEF (2011), Nordic Study on Child Rights to Participate 2009-2010, Innolink Research)
A study of the relationship between gender and physical punishment in China, Colombia, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, Philippines, Sweden, Thailand and the US, which used interviews with around 4,000 mothers, fathers and children aged 7-10, found that in Sweden, none of the boys or girls had experienced severe corporal punishment (hitting or slapping the child on the face, head, or ears; beating the child repeatedly with an implement) by someone in their household in the past month, and none of the parents believed it was necessary to use corporal punishment to bring up their child. Nine per cent of girls and 6% of boys had experienced “mild” corporal punishment (spanking, hitting, or slapping with a bare hand; hitting or slapping on the hand, arm, or leg; shaking; or hitting with an object) by someone in their household in the past month.
(Lansford, J. et al (2010), “Corporal Punishment of Children in Nine Countries as a Function of Child Gender and Parent Gender”, International Journal of Pediatrics)
A 2009 review of the thirty years since the legislation was introduced showed that there has been a consistent decline in the use of physical punishment and the number of adults who are in favour of it. In the 1970s, around half of children were smacked regularly; this fell to around a third in the 1980s, and just a few per cent after 2000. Children who are still smacked experience this less often; 1.5% experience physical punishment with an implement. The reporting of cases of assault on children has increased since the 1980s, reflecting less tolerance within society for violence towards children. The review also notes that in 1981, just two years after the law was introduced, over 90% of Swedish families were aware of the prohibition on corporal punishment. The change in legislation was accompanied by a large public awareness campaign, with pamphlets distributed to every household with children and information printed on milk cartons.
(Modig, C. (2009), Never Violence – Thirty Years on from Sweden’s Abolition of Corporal Punishment, Save the Children Sweden and Swedish Ministry of Health and Social Affairs)
A study carried out in 2007 examined five European countries: Sweden, Austria, Germany, France and Spain. Five thousand parents (1,000 in each nation) were interviewed about their use of and attitude towards corporal punishment, their own experiences of violence and their knowledge and beliefs about the law: 14% of Swedish parents said they had “mildly” slapped their child on the face, 17% on the bottom; 4% had given their child a “resounding” slap on the face, and 1.8% had beaten their child with an object. Over three quarters (76%) never used corporal punishment; 88% agreed “one should try to use as little corporal punishment as possible”, and 93% agreed that “non-violent child-rearing is the ideal”.
(Bussmann, K. D. (2009), The Effect of Banning Corporal Punishment in Europe: A Five-Nation Comparison, Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg)