Physical punishment increasing in Sweden

Punishment of children using force is increasing in Sweden, despite the fact that it has been illegal for over 25 years.

“We are getting more and more signals that children are being subjected to physical punishment, and we also know that the number of reported incidents of child abuse is increasing,” said Children’s Ombudsman Lena Nyberg to Swedish Radio’s Ekot programme.

The true extent of the problem is hard to gauge for two main reasons, said Nyberg, who was basing her assessment on reports from the social services, police and prosecutors. The first is that the children who are exposed to such abuse rarely report it themselves, and the second is that there are usually no witnesses outside the family.

But Johnny Järlefelt, a Stockholm prosecutor, told Ekot that the problem was so widespread that if every assault on a child was reported then he could “fill Söder Stadium with arrested parents”.

Järlefelt said that the authorities and child care centres should play a greater role in informing parents of the law.

Lena Nyberg agreed, telling the programme that there was a risk that the use of physical punishment would continue to increase.

“I believe it is important to raise this question again and again when it comes to providing information, since there are new generations of parents all the time,” she said.

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