Evaluating the success of Sweden's corporal punishment ban

Child Abuse Negl. 1999 May;23(5):435-48. doi: 10.1016/s0145-2134(99)00021-6.


Objective: In 1979, Sweden became the first nation to explicitly prohibit all forms of corporal punishment of children by all caretakers in an effort to: (1) alter public attitudes toward this practice; (2) increase early identification of children at risk for abuse; and (3) promote earlier and more supportive intervention to families. The aim of this study was to examine trends over recent decades in these areas to assess the degree to which these goals have been met.

Method: Primary data were collected from official Swedish sources for the following variables: public support for corporal punishment, reporting of child physical assault, child abuse mortality, prosecution rates, and intervention by the social authorities. Lines of best fit were generated and Cox and Stuart tests for trend were conducted.

Results: Public support for corporal punishment has declined, identification of children at risk has increased, child abuse mortality is rare, prosecution rates have remained steady, and social service intervention has become increasingly supportive and preventive.

Conclusions: The Swedish ban has been highly successful in accomplishing its goals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attitude
  • Child
  • Child Abuse / diagnosis
  • Child Abuse / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Child Abuse / prevention & control*
  • Child Advocacy / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Child Welfare / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Child, Preschool
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Punishment*
  • Social Support
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Sweden