Sweden’s smacking ban: more harm than good


Robert E Larzelere PhD

Those in favour of a ban on smacking often quote Sweden as a role model. Sweden banned smacking in 1979. A primary aim of the ban was to decrease rates of child abuse and to promote supportive approaches for parents rather than coercive state intervention.

Evidence suggests the ban has totally failed to achieve these aims. Far from any decrease in violence there has been a sharp increase in child abuse and child-on-child violence. In addition, “supportive approaches for parents” has, in reality, meant the removal of children from the home in 46% of new cases receiving “support and care measures”.

Despite this evidence, children’s charity Save the Children has published a report – A Generation Without Smacking by Joan Durrant. The report claims the Swedish experiment has been a success. Save the Children has been lobbying hard for a ban on smacking for the UK.

Prof. Robert E Larzelere of the University of Nebraska Medical Center has questioned the report’s fi ndings. In this booklet, Prof. Larzelere presents a devastating critique of Durrant’s research. He concludes that perhaps countries with a historically low level of violence – like Sweden – may be able to cope with a six-fold increase in child-on-child assault. Other countries – like the UK – cannot.

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