Equal Protection

“The distinct nature of children, their initial dependent and developmental state, their unique human potential as well as their vulnerability, all demand the need for more, rather than less, legal and other protection from all forms of violence."

UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (2006) General Comment 8, para 21.

The UNCRC is clear that children should be protected from all forms of violence and have the same protection under the law as adults from all forms of assault, hitting and smacking.

In July 2016 the Committee on the Rights of the Child repeated previous recommendations that the UK and devolved Governments must prohibit as a priority all corporal punishment in the family, including through the repeal of legal defences, such as reasonable chastisement, and strengthen efforts to promote positive and non-violent forms of discipline


On 22 March 2017 NICCY hosted a seminar on Equal Protection which included the launch of new survey findings on adult attitudes to physical punishment in Northern Ireland by the Commissioner and presentations from Pauline McIntyre from the Scottish Children and Young People’s Commissioner’s Office and Jillian van Turnhout, former Senator Seanad Éireann on research and legislative developments in Scotland and the Republic of Ireland.

You can find out more by reading our press release here, and by viewing the short video below: 


What is NICCY calling for?

NICCY’s survey results indicate that perceptions about physical punishment and the acceptability of hitting or smacking children are changing. Importantly, the findings show that the majority of adults think it is time that children in Northern Ireland were given Equal Protection under the law. 

Legal reform to ensure that children have Equal Protection from all forms of violence including physical punishment
Improved support for parents and families, including through effective positive parenting support