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Brazil: New Law Punishes Parents for Spanking Children and Adolescents

(June 17, 2014) On June 4, 2014, the Brazilian Federal Senate approved a draft law that would punish families who use physical violence to educate their children. The legislation must be sanctioned, without a veto, by Brazilian President Dilma Roussef, within 15 days to come into effect. (Mariana Jungmann, Senado Aprova Lei da Palmada Sem Alterações, AGÊNCIA BRASIL (June 4, 2014).)

The new law will amend the Statute of Children and Adolescents by providing that children and adolescents must be educated and cared for without the use of physical punishment or cruel or degrading treatment. (Lei Nº 8.069, de 13 de Julho de 1990 (Estatuto da Criança e do Adolescente), PLANALTO.)

Physical punishment is defined under the Statute as a “disciplinary or punitive action with the use of physical force that results in physical pain or injury to the child or adolescent.” Cruel or degrading treatment is defined as “conduct or cruel treatment that humiliates, ridicules, or seriously threatens a child or adolescent.” (Id.)

Parents who insist on physically punishing their children will themselves be punished, among other sanctions, with a warning, referral to psychological treatment, and orientation courses. Community councils (Conselhos Tutelares) will be responsible for receiving complaints and for applying sanctions. (Id.)