Denmark: " If there's a case of children coming with gunshot wounds, we report it to the police"
Slapping and beatings continue to be part of the children's upbringing in many immigrant families. The Danish Council for Children wants to target immigrant parents with a new campaign about children's rights.
"We can't continue to ignore the fact that there's a group of children, who are subjected to corporal punishment more often than other children. Therefore it's necessary to do something special to draw attention to the children's rights," says Lisbeth Zornig Andersen, head of the Council for Children.
Since parents were denied the right to corporal punishment, polls and studies have shown that most Danish parents stopped physical punishments. However, such punishments continue in homes where the parents are of non-Danish background. For example, In a study by the Copenhagen Municipality last year, 17% of children from ethnic minorities admitted they'd been beaten, compared with just 1% of Danish children.
Immigrant consultant and lecturer Fahmy Almajid supports the Council of Children, and says it's important to conduct dialog with the parents.
"Violence is unfortunately part of the upbringing in various Middle-Eastern cultures, and it's unfortunately also accepted in many circles," says Fahmy Almajid.
Often at his lectures he meets immigrant parents who say they've been beaten when they were children and don't think they've been harmed. "But when i tell them of the mental and pyshical injuries their children get from violence, and that they don't get respect as parents, but fear of being beaten, they sit with tears in their eyes."
"They think they benefit their children by beating them," says Fahmy Almajid.
Earlier today Fyens Stiftstidende reported that in the Humlehave School in Vollsmose, Odense, corporal punishment is so common among the parents, that the administration doesn't bother to report all the cases to the municipality.
School principal Olav Rabølle Nielsen: "We know that some of the children are beaten at home, but we can't report it every time. Then we could send a mass of papers on everything possible. If there's a case of children coming with gunshot wounds, we report it to the police of course."
Children's Welfare are upset at the report. Bente Boserup of the organization says that "It's absolutely wrong to abandon the children, and it's also illegal. A principal is not only obligated to inform the municipality, he has an increased obligation to inform them."
Humlehave School handle the cases by calling in the parents to a talk and giving out a circular about corporal punishment.
Olav Rabølle Nielsen doesn't think you can change a social and cultural phenomenon by notifying (the authorities). "If we have some really serious cases, where there's a case of physical violence, we naturally speak with the parents," he says.
But that's not enough, says School Alderman Stina Willumsen (SF). "It's just not good enough. I will ask my school inspector to remind the management of Humlehave School that such matters need to be reported.
Source: Fyens Stiftstidende 1, 2 (Danish)