Just a Slap on the Wrist? Parental Corporal Punishment of Children and the Defence of Reasonable Chastisement in Hong Kong

Journal article


Birchall, D. (2020). Just a Slap on the Wrist? Parental Corporal Punishment of Children and the Defence of Reasonable Chastisement in Hong Kong. Hong Kong Law Journal.
AuthorsBirchall, D.
Abstract

This article describes the current laws regarding parental corporal punishment against children in Hong Kong and contrasts them with the region’s obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Hong Kong permits certain forms of corporal punishment through the defence of “reasonable chastisement” and is therefore in prima facie breach of the Convention. However, the Convention invokes the de minimis principle to restrict the scope of prosecutions in favour of keeping families together. It advocates education and sensitisation in all but extreme cases. Hong Kong’s restrictions on the application of this defence and its positive actions to shift cultural norms away from corporal punishment, mean that the substance, if not the letter, of the law is relatively well-aligned to that of the Convention. However, the continuance of the defence may provide an obstacle to early stage intervention and the evolution of cultural norms. The article considers whether the defence of reasonable chastisement remains necessary today, the possible virtues and costs of removing the defence, as well as policy improvements in light of human rights law that could help to realise the right of children to be protected from corporal punishment.

Year2020
JournalHong Kong Law Journal
PublisherHKU
Publication dates
Print01 Jun 2020
Publication process dates
Deposited22 Sep 2021
Accepted author manuscript
File Access Level
Open
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https://openresearch.lsbu.ac.uk/item/8xy93

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