Lawmakers have unanimously passed a modification to the General Law on the Rights of Children and Adolescents to prohibit corporal punishment and humiliation of children.
“It is forbidden for the mother, father or any person in the family to use corporal punishment or any type of humiliating treatment and punishment as a form of correction or discipline of children or adolescents,” reads the bill which received preliminary approval from the Senate last November.
National Action Party Senator Josefina Vázquez Mota noted that the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has indicated that in Mexico corporal and humiliating punishment as a form of violence against children is prevalent.
“More than 60% of girls, boys and adolescents between 1 and 14 years old are subjected to psychological aggression and corporal punishment in their homes,” said Vázquez, who heads up the Commission on Children and Adolescents, citing UNICEF figures.
A survey in August by the Guardianes Foundation, an advocacy group, revealed that during the coronavirus quarantine, 40% percent of children and adolescents suffered psychological and physical violence.
Under the new terms of the law, corporal punishment is now defined as “any act committed against girls, boys and adolescents in which physical force is used, including blows with the hand or with any object, pushing, pinching, biting, pulling hair or ears, forcing them to maintain uncomfortable postures, burns, ingestion of boiling food or other products or any other act that has the object of causing pain or discomfort, even if it is slight.”
Humiliating punishment encompasses offensive, degrading, devaluing, stigmatizing, ridiculing and disparaging treatment.
In addition, the law establishes that all members of the family, especially girls, boys and adolescents, have the right to have other members respect their physical, mental and emotional integrity in order to contribute to their healthy development.
However, the reform does not stipulate any punishment for adults who inflict physical abuse on minors.
During discussion of the reforms to the existing law, Senator Xóchitl Gálvez recounted her own experience as the daughter of a physically abusive father. Gálvez fought back tears as she spoke of the terror she felt while she and her siblings were being beaten by her alcoholic father, and said she hoped the reform to the law would end the kind of violence she experienced. Gálvez also noted the violence that exists in indigenous communities, where she said parents “take out their frustration” on their children.
Mexico is now the 11th country in Latin America with specific legislation prohibiting corporal punishment against children, joining Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela.
The first country to ban corporal punishment was Sweden in 1979.
Source: Reforma (sp)