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Belgian parents still have the "right" to inflict corporal punishment on their children. Sign this petition to promote non-violent educational methods.

The prohibition of all corporal punishment of children is governments’ obligation, not only under international treaties relating to human rights, but more particularly under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by Belgium on 15 January 1992.

Unfortunately, in Belgium the physical punishment of children by parents remain socially acceptable. Belgian parents still have the "right" to inflict corporal punishment on their child as long as this does not cause any apparent injuries.

Corporal punishment is the most common form of violence against children. Ineffective as a method of discipline and education, corporal punishments send the wrong message and can cause serious physical and mental damage to children.

It is worrying that the corporal punishments against adults are considered illegal attacks while they are not explicitly prohibited for children. Similarly, if domestic violence was banned explicitly in Belgian law, why not, in the same way, prohibit violence against children?

The Civil Code of 1995 provides that the relationship between parents and children should be based on mutual respect. However, its interpretation does not imply a ban for parents to use corporal punishment against their children. This confirms the need to modify it.

Children learn by following the example of their parents and others around them. Thus corporal punishments inflicted on them give them the impression that violence is an acceptable means of resolving conflicts between people.

As corporal punishments in Belgium are not explicitly prohibited and since Belgium did not take into consideration the concluding comments made by the Committee on the Rights of the Child of the United Nations in 1995, which encouraged the country to revise its legislation and prohibit corporal punishment in the family, Belgium was the subject of two collective complaints to the European Committee of Social Rights of the Council of Europe.

The first collective complaint was filed by the World Organization against Torture in 2003. Following this collective complaint, the European Committee of Social Rights issued a decision finding a violation of Article 17 of the European Social Charter (which guarantees children and adolescents the right to grow up in an environment conducive to the development of their personality and their physical and mental abilities).

However, due to the lack of progress since then, on February 11, another collective complaint against Belgium was filed by the Association for the Protection of Children (APPROACH) Ltd., which provides the secretariat of the "Global Initiative to End all Corporal Punishment of Children". This procedure is in progress and Belgium may be, once again, condemned by the Committee of Social Rights of the Council of Europe.

DCI-Belgium regrets that all it initiatives pushing for the creation of a legal basis to explicitly protect children in Belgium against corporal punishments and other forms of mistreatment has collected such little interest on the part of politicians in this country. Considering that no child shall be subjected to corporal punishment or any form of physical violence, DCI-Belgium invites the Belgian State to insert, without delay in its national legislation and more specifically in its Civil Code, the prohibition of corporal punishments on children. Moreover, DCI-Belgium invites the Belgian state to immediately share its commitment to legislate in this direction to the Secretariat of the Committee of Social Rights of the Council of Europe. This would avoid Belgium being subjected to a new conviction by an international body.

Finally, DCI-Belgium considers that, although the Convention on the Rights of the Child aimed at the Belgian government as the representative of the Belgian people, it is in reality the responsibility of all members of Belgian society. That is why DCI-Belgium asks parents, family members and all those in contact with children to give up corporal punishment and treat children with respect, without resorting to violence. The family is the basic unit of society; it should ensure the healthy development of children.

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