As you may remember from the prior post, in 1979, Sweden became the first country to ban all corporal punishment of children including in the home.
In an elucidating article, Adrienne Ahlgren Haeuser, a professor at the University of Wisconsin, has described the impact of the Swedish law a decade after its passage.
Professor Haeuser visited Sweden in 1981 and 1988, conducting extensive interviews with multiple government authorities, human services professionals, teachers and daycare personnel, child welfare organization leaders, parents, and some children.
The facts she discovered are amazing and surprising – the law has actually changed parenting practices and improved life in Sweden. Read the article at this link: Swedish Parents Don’t Spank, By Adrienne A. Haeuser.
Here are some of her observations (made as of a decade after the law’s passage):
1. Before World War 2, Sweden was a society influenced by German authoritarianism and Lutheran dogma, under which childrearing included regular harsh beatings to “drive out the devil and make room for God’s Will.”
2. Sweden moved into the 1970’s with widespread child abuse.
3. The law was implemented in these ways: (a) every family received a mailing explaining the physical and psychological harm that can be caused by hitting children; (b) it was implemented through public health facilities, including close case work by nurses at the facilities; and (c) the law was given wide coverage in the media.
4.” The school system, in response to passage of the law, intensified the curriculum in child development and parenting. . . , and parents did not object to having their children learn about the law in school. As one parent said, ‘This teaches children not to be violent.'”
5. Since passage of the law, “few minor infractions have been reported by spiteful neighbors or children, putting to rest the speculation that such a law would create chaos by turning minor parental infractions into government cases.”
6. There have been many more reports of substantiated cases of child abuse.
7. In 1988, “[B]oth parents and professionals agreed that Swedish parents, aside from those with very serious psychological or social problems, were not using physical punishment of any sort, even in the privacy of their homes.”
8. “Swedish parents now discipline their children; and in doing so, they rely on a variety of alternatives to physical punishment. The method most commonly used is verbal conflict resolution. . . .”
9. ” To socialize preverbal infants and toddlers, Swedish parents make every effort to avoid conflict. They thoroughly childproof their homes and give their children a great deal of attention. Society supports include paid parental leave, which permits one parent to remain at home throughout a baby’s first 15 months of life.”
10. Violent crimes against people in Sweden decreased.