Children's Legal Rights Journal


It is undeniable that the United States ("U.S.") has experienced significant social changes within the past 150 years. Social progress has been made regarding issues related to both race and gender. For example, until the 1870s, men were legally entitled to physically chastise their wives. It was just a decade prior to this that slavery had been abolished. At the root of these issues was the notion that women and people of color were not autonomous holders of rights, but rather were "property" that belonged to their owners or partners. Arguably, one area of U.S. civil rights where this concept has not shifted is regarding the rights of children. Scholars have proposed that the perspective of children as "property" may serve to maintain individual and societal beliefs that condone and perpetuate violence against children. This belief is at odds with international legal principles of a child's right to be heard, and the notion that children are autonomous holders of rights. Before proceeding to analyse alternative, accepted practices adopted throughout Europe, this paper will outline the history of events in the U.S. which have led to the current conception of corporal punishment throughout the U.S. Drawing on this comparison, this paper will then examine current efforts to prohibit corporal punishment in the U.S., and whether the U.S. is likely to experience a policy shift like that experienced in Europe.

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