Court/Judicial body: Supreme Court of Israel
Date: January 25, 2000 CRC
Provisions: Article 19(1): Protection from abuse and neglect
Background: A mother was convicted for the crimes of abuse and assault of a minor for striking her two minor children on the face and buttocks over the course of 1994-1995. In one instance she punched her son in the face, breaking one of his teeth, and struck her daughter with a vacuum cleaner. She was also known to throw shoes at her son and strike him with a slipper. The mother was sentenced to one year imprisonment (suspended) and 18 months probation. The mother appealed her conviction and sentence to the Supreme Court of Israel (the “Court”), claiming her actions did not constitute abuse, and that a parent may use reasonable force to discipline his or her child.
Issue and resolution: Corporal punishment. The Court upheld the mother’s conviction for the crime of abuse and held that parents are forbidden from using corporal punishment.
Court reasoning: A child is not the property of his or her parents and even “light” punishment may lead to more severe violence over time. Psychological and educational research indicates that parental punishment that causes hurt and humiliation may also cause mental and physical damage to children. Moreover, such punishment violates children’s human rights and the CRC and conflicts with the goal of a violence-free society.
Dissenting opinion: The mother’s actions did not constitute abuse, only assault. The crime of abuse requires especially severe acts that are quite violent and degrading and designed to cause extreme suffering.
Excerpt citing CRC and other relevant human rights The outlook which recognizes the child’s rights to protect his or her physical and mental integrity received clear expression in the … [Convention on the Rights of the Child] which was affirmed in Israel on August 8, 1991, and went into force here on November 2, 1991. The Convention explicitly forbids the use of physical or mental violence against children, and obligates the state to take measures to prevent violence against children. Thus paragraph 19(1) of the Convention states: States Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parents, legal guardians or any other person who has the care of the child. Accordingly, we decide that corporal punishment of children, or humiliation and derogation from their dignity as a method of education by their parents, is entirely impermissible, and is a remnant of a societal-educational outlook that has lost its validity.
Notes: More information on corporal punishment in Israel is available at http://www.endcorporalpunishment.org/pages/progress/reports/israel.html
CRIN comments: CRIN believes that this decision is consistent with the CRC. As recognised by the Court, Article 19 of the Convention obligates States Parties to prohibit all forms of violence against children in all settings, which clearly includes banning corporal punishment in family homes.
Citation: A v. Israel, Supreme Court of Israel, Case No. 4596/98, Jan. 25, 2000
Link to full judgement: http://elyon1.court.gov.il/files_eng/98/960/045/N02/98045960.n02.pdf