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UNCAT Children and Positive Discipline Tool: 10/UNCAT/2021

POSITIVE DISCIPLINE AND ALTERNATIVES
TO CORPORAL PUNISHMENT OF CHILDREN
Child discipline and guidance are important for a child’s growth, education and development. Child discipline is
an inherent component of a child’s educational process, which prepares the child for her or his future stage as
an adult living productively and peacefully in society. There are, however, important limits on how children are
disciplined.
Corporal and other cruel or degrading forms of punishment fail to recognise children as full right-holders and
disrespect their inherent dignity and right to physical integrity as human beings. Child development principles
advocate instead for the use of alternative measures, which are commonly referred to as “positive discipline”,
and consist of non-violent, solution-focused and respectful ways to discipline children.

Under international human rights law,
a child is every human being below the age of 18 years.
Corporal and other cruel or degrading forms of punishment are sometimes used as a way to discipline children
at home, in schools and care facilities. “Physical” or “corporal” punishment refers to any punishment in which
physical force is used and intended to cause some degree of pain or discomfort, however light. Non-physical forms
of punishments which belittle, humiliate, denigrate, scapegoat, threaten, scare or ridicule the child, may also be
considered cruel and/or degrading.

The CTI ‘UNCAT Implementation Tools’ are a series of practical tools designed to share good practices among States on the
implementation of the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
(UNCAT). They offer thematic guidance and ideas for State practitioners and policymakers as they develop or revise contextspecific strategies, mechanisms and procedures to prevent torture and other forms of ill-treatment or punishment, and provide
remedies for victims.

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