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President appeals for policy to eradicate violence against children

Legislation is important, but it is not enough...long-term policies are needed to change this behaviour in the long-term

Malta urgently needs a comprehensive and multifaceted policy to wipe out any vestiges of violence against children,  President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca has said.

She was speaking at a roundtable meeting at San Anton Palace ahead of a high level global conference on the Universal Prohibition of Corporal Punishment. The conference will be held in Malta between May 30 and June 1.

“In my time, discipling children by hitting them was an acceptable practice — those times are past and this has to stop. Corporal punishment is linked to traditions and culture and so ingrained that we have to summon everyone’s commitment to achieve zero violence towards our children,” President Coleiro Preca told those present.

“Legislation is important, but it is not enough. We need long-term policies in place that engage every strata of society to change this behaviour in the long-term. We also urgently require the proper tools to measure the success of the services we provide in this area,” she added.

Ms Coleiro Preca said that with the presence of the international community in Malta was ripe to ensure decisive measures were taken to have a comprehensive policy in place that secured a safe environment for children.

More than 100 delegates will be attending the conference, being hosted by the President’s Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society.

It will be opened by Marta Santos Pais, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Violence against Children.

Four panels discussing a myriad of topics including capacity building and guidance for professionals working with and for children; awareness-raising, information and social mobilisation, prioritising prevention and enacting comprehensive legislation.

The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child has defined corporal punishment as: “Any punishment in which physical force is used and intended to cause some degree of pain or discomfort, however light. Most involves hitting smacking, slapping, or spanking children with the hand or with an implement…” In addition, there are other non-physical forms of punishment that are also cruel, degrading and incompatible with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, such as punishment which belittles, humiliates, denigrates, scapegoats, threatens, scares or ridicules the child.

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