|to fight the multiple forms
of domestic violence against children and adolescents (including
corporal punishment and the humiliation imposed on them in the everyday
life inside the family) acting in a competent, committed way and
without psychological reticence.
Figure 1 shows how the Campaign Modules articulate with TELELACRI and
the major goals and action strategies.
Figure 1 - Diagram of the
relationship between the Campaign Modules and TELELACRI
II. MAIN RESULTS OF THE
The results obtained to date are utterly encouraging. The most significant
ones are stated below by MODULE.
Module I - Educational Awareness
Just in the last three years the telestudents held about 383 community
debates where domestic violence against children and adolescents problem
was discussed, and whenever possible, why it is important to be against
even the notorious smack on the buttocks. The debates involved 34,148 participants whose ages ranged from 18 to 65, distributed among 19
Brazilian states, Peru (Arequipa) and Argentina (Villa Mercedes).
The telestudents disclosed, as part of their pedagogic tasks, the core of
the Campaign: the Petition For A Non-Violent Pedagogy. This
petition has already been signed by 232,615 people and translated into
English and Spanish. It can be found in this site.
Over 70 newspapers from all over Brazil have published a text prepared by
LACRI named IS SPANKING NON-EDUCATIONAL? Moreover, all the major media in
the Country (radio and TV stations, newspapers and magazines) published
notes on the Campaign in 2000 and 2001.
Module II - Research
LACRI maintains a consistent Research Program in the area of Domestic
Violence Against Children and Adolescents. Masters dissertations and
Doctoral theses are under way, focusing on the problem of Physical and
Psychological Violence practised at home and at school against children
and adolescents. In 2001, the book HITTING MANIA, organised and
written by Drs. Maria Amélia Azevedo and Viviane Nogueira de Azevedo
Guerra, was published by Iglu Editora and launched on March 16. This is
the Program Book, since it retrieves the history of HITTING MANIA
in Brazil and delivers the results of Brazilian research on domestic
corporal punishment obtained by interviewing children and adolescents
(whose title is CHILDHOOD VOICES), as well as incorporating a
world-wide panorama of the struggle for policies through contributions
from Per Tamm, Simone Ek (Save the Children - Sweden), Lina Inglês
(Mozambique) and Tibebu Bogale (Ethiopia). The video, SPANKING IS
NON-EDUCATIONAL, a cartoon made by 9- to 15-year old children and
adolescents, was prepared and launched on the same date as the book HITTING
MANIA. The book and the video form, as a multimedia project, the key
parts of the Campaign.
It is important to remember that the book, Hitting Mania, involves
two types of research: historical and empirical. Historical
research, was accomplished through a survey regarding the use of domestic
corporal punishment against children and adolescents over the 500 years of
Brazilian history. For this purpose existing historical testimonies were
used, although sparse and fragmentary, since the History of the Child in
Brazil only now has begun to be written, and very timidly too.
Furthermore, the survey used episodes of domestic corporal punishment
suffered by Brazilian writers at different ages and reported by them in
their autobiographies. As to the empirical research, very properly
named CHILDHOOD VOICES, the result was the following:
1. How it was carried
In 1999, 894 children and adolescents were
surveyed (49% boys and 51% girls) with ages ranging from 7 to 15 years and
attending public schools in the city of São Paulo. The sample was chosen
at random. The schools were chosen in function of a continuum of social
inclusion and exclusion, measured by the IHD (Index of Human Development)
scale. The survey subjects were divided into three age groups: 7-9, 10-12
and 13-15 years old. All were duly authorised by their parents to answer
standard questionnaires (which involved completing sentences, selecting
among closed alternatives, writing answers, and drawing). All the children
and Adolescents volunteered.That was possible to identify:
2. The results obtained
enabled answering the following basic questions:
I - Is domestic corporal punishment of children and
adolescents a past or current practice?
The survey showed that parents beating children is a practice:
because it is still strongly present during the childhood and
adolescence of our survey subjects;
because it was experienced by almost everybody, regardless of sex and
considering its duration in years in the life of the survey subjects
and the huge cruelty of some of the modalities.
All of these characteristics
allow us to say that since HITTING CHILDREN is an omnipresent practice in
the family habits of very young survey subjects (7-9 years old), it is far
from being a sad inheritance from the past, as it would be if it had
happened only in the lives of adolescent subjects (13-15 years old).
Therefore, HITTING MANIA is one of the national institutions of Brazilian
culture. In spite of that, there are some hints of future, although slow,
Even though they represent a minority, there are those who have never
been beaten at home (26.67% of the boys and 29.51% of the girls at
schools with a high IHD, versus 7.25% of boys and 10.99% of girls at
schools with a low IHD, all of them ranging from 10 to 12 years).
II - Which are the main means of corporal punishment
applied to children by parents?
Slipper paddling and spanking are among the most popular
means through which HITTING MANIA is exercised. Regardless of age,
sex and social-economical status, sons and daughters are very familiar
with these punitive practices.
It must be emphasized though, that there is a huge diversity of punitive
means and manners, as well as a strange association among them: from bare
aggression (using parts of the body, preferably feet and hands) to
aggression with tools (using a broad variety of objects, from those for
household or personal use to those extracted from nature such as rods,
III - Who beats the children more: the father or the mother?
The younger the survey subjects, the more the MOTHER figure is stressed in
the practice of HITTING THE CHILDREN. Although domestic corporal
punishment of children is a usual practice of MOTHERS and FATHERS, there
is evidence of some division of tasks by gender:
not only as to the sex of
the children (mothers with daughters, fathers with sons) but also as
to the kind of punishment applied (mothers/smack on the buttocks,
fathers/beating, kicks, blows with the fist, …).
Such conclusions suggest that
perhaps the role of the parents is being revised inside the Brazilian
family of a big metropolis such as São Paulo, due either to the emergence
of family units led by women or to the fathers' longer physical absences
from home for work or other reasons.
The data contradict the myth of the NON VIOLENT MOM and suggest that
so-called moderate physical punishments (spanking) are a practice of women
addressed with priority to GIRLS. Although both parents hit their
children, the latter tell us that the MOTHER hits more because maybe she
is more present in everyday family life.
IV - What do the children feel when they are being beaten by
If we compare the voices of childhood and adolescence, we can remark a
decrease in feelings which we could call DEMOBILISING (PAIN, SADNESS,
SHAME) and an increase in MOBILISING feelings (RAGE, REVOLT, …). This
may result from the fact that as they grow, the young people become aware
not only of the "injustice" of being beaten by their parents,
but also of their own social strength, inside and outside the family.
However, although this may mean hope for a future transformation in the
domestic disciplining relationship, the echo of the captured voices - with
some few exceptions in the case of those who are usually not beaten at
home - sounds much more like a conformist and impotent lamentation than a
The HITTING MANIA of parents as part of a violent pedagogy generates
destructive feelings in the children: WRATH, SADNESS, FEAR, DISGUST,
SHAME, while those who are brought up without corporal punishment utter constructive
feelings such as PLEASURE and LOVE.
V - What do the children think about domestic corporal
The MANIA OF BEATING CHILDREN was condemned by children and
adolescents based on logical, moral and psychological arguments. In spite
of this massive condemnation, the pedagogy of corporal punishment -
especially represented by smacking on the buttocks and slipper paddling -
is still defended and legitimised by a rather large number of our survey
subjects. Fortunately, this number decreases with age, suggesting that the
new generations are perhaps asking themselves why do children and
adolescents have to "TAKE A BEATING TO BECOME GROWN UPS"?
Module III - Legal Reform - See the link Legislative Bill proposing the
abolition of domestic corporal punishment of children and adolescents
Considering that the Brazilian Penal Code, in Chapter III - On jeopardy to
life and health, article 136 - Ill Treatment reads: "Jeopardising the
life or health of persons under one's authority, custody, or supervision
for purposes of upbringing, teaching, treatment or custody, whether by
depriving them of food or indispensable care or by submitting them to
inadequate or excessive work, or by misusing disciplinary or corrective
Penalty: 2 (two)-months to 1-year confinement or fine
Paragraph 1: if serious corporal injury results from the fact
Penalty: confinement of 1 (one) to 4 (four) years
Paragraph 2: if the result is death
Penalty: confinement of 4 (four) to 12 (twelve) years
Paragraph 3; the penalty is increased by one third if the crime is
practised against someone under 14 (fourteen) years old.
One can thus conclude that lighter corporal punishments are not
included, and are thus permitted by this legislation. At this time,
when a review of our Penal Code is being proposed, one must struggle to
ban for good each and every corporal punishment towards childhood and
It is important, though, to think that the legislative changes must
have educational rather than punitive features, i.e., it must provoke
a change in attitude to show that it is undeserving to use any type of
corporal punishment on children and adolescents. On the other hand,
children should be able to count on legal protection against this kind of
With regard to this, the LACRI intends to go deeper and begin the
struggle, with the signing of this petition as the starting point.
How to comply with the law
In a country such as Brazil, where transgression is the rule, you can
achieve this by establishing ways to ensure compliance with the
legislation that will ban once and for all domestic corporal punishment.
III. NEXT STEPS
All this synergetic effort shall be directed to a legal reform, since in
Brazil only "immoderate and cruel punishments" are
forbidden. As has already happened in 15 other countries, our expectation
is that Brazil will become the next country to cancel the "parents
license to hit their children under the doubtful pretext of educating
However, the fundamental challenge is to create a culture recognising
domestic corporal punishment as Violence against children and adolescents
and, therefore, as part of the Culture of Terror Galeano speaks about and
to which we should say NO.
|The Culture of
Extortion, insults, threats,
rap on the head, slapping, beating, whipping, dark rooms, cold showers,
mandatory fasting, mandatory food; not being allowed to go out, to speak
one's thoughts or to do what one feels like and public humiliation...
These are only some of the so commonly used forms of punishment and
torture in family life. In order to punish disobedience and examples of
freedom, the family tradition perpetrates a culture of terror, which
serves not only to degrade women and make children develop their ability
to lie, but also infects all with the pestilence of fear.
Human rights, recounts Andrés Domingues in Chile, should first
be exercised in people's homes!
Finally, it is necessary to say that any Campaign of this nature cannot
lose sight of the fact that one should give priority to considering the
rights of the children as citizens. The Convention on the Rights of
Childhood recommends that children have the right to be protected against
all forms of interpersonal violence. Therefore, the countries that have
ratified the Convention (among which is Brazil) must have clearly in mind
that no level of corporal punishment is compatible with this Convention
and that it must be forbidden, coupled to programs in the Education area.