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Keywords:

  • child abuse;
  • corporal punishment;
  • social policy

Abstract

Twenty-four countries have passed legislative bans on corporal punishment since the passage of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. This systematic review briefly reviews the arguments for corporal punishment bans and the contents and context of the current legal bans. All such bans have occurred in representative governments. Following this background, the paper will examine the impacts of the laws with regard to attitudes regarding corporal punishment and parental discipline behaviours. It is clear from the findings of this systematic review that legal bans on corporal punishment are closely associated with decreases in support of and use of corporal punishment as a child discipline technique. However, it is less clear if such legislative bans always generally precede a decline in popular support for corporal punishment or result from such a decline in popular support. The known impact of such bans on child physical abuse will then be reviewed. The paper concludes with a policy analysis framework for considering new legislation to ban corporal punishment. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.