JERUSALEM, 26 January
Supreme Court: Corporal punishment of children is indefensible
By Dan Izenberg
JERUSALEM - The Supreme Court yesterday ruled that corporal punishment
of children by their parents is never educational and always causes
serious harm to the children.
Yitzhak Kadman, head of the National Council for the Child, declared
that the ruling established a precedent and "finally recognized the
right of children not to be exposed to violence of any kind, even when
those who use violence makes excuses for it, saying it is 'educational' or
The court was ruling on the appeal of a mother who was convicted of
brutal treatment and assault of a minor for hitting and slapping her
children and, in two specific cases, hitting her daughter with a vacuum
cleaner and punching her son in the face, breaking his tooth.
The lower court convicted the woman, Nathalie Baku, and sentenced her
to a one-year suspended sentence and supervision by a probation officer
for a year and a half. Baku appealed against her conviction and sentence
to the Supreme Court. Two of the three justices on the panel, Supreme
Court President Aharon Barak and Dorit Beinisch, rejected the appeal. In a
minority decision, Justice Izhak Englard ruled that Baku had not used
brutality against her children.
Beinisch wrote that "corporal punishment is not effective from an
educational point of view and causes serious harm to the child."
Corporal punishment does not jibe with the aims of establishing a
better society and violates the Basic Law: Human Freedom and Dignity, she
added. Therefore, there is no way to defend it.
"In the judicial, social and educational circumstances in which we
live, we must not make compromises that can endanger the welfare and
physical well-being of minors," Beinisch wrote. "We must also
take into account that we are living in a society where violence is
spreading like a plague."
"If we allow 'light' violence, it might deteriorate into very
serious violence. We must not endanger the physical and mental well-being
of a minor with any type of corporal punishment. A truth which is worthy
must be clear and unequivocal and the message is that corporal punishment
is not allowed."