Moving on from Corporal Punishment in the Baltic Sea Region


NON-VIOLENT CHILDHOODS: Moving on from Corporal Punishment in the Baltic Sea Region

Childhoods without violence  

The CBSS Expert Group on Children at Risk has launched NON-VIOLENT CHILDHOODS, a project providing sustainable models of integrated public education to accelerate the end of violent punishment of children.

Children are right-holders. Corporal punishment is a violation of their rights in respect to their dignity, physical integrity and equal protection under the law. A growing number of countries around the world have legally banned corporal punishment of children in all settings, yet establishing the legal ban is an important – but not the only – necessary step towards ending violence against children. Even in countries with a legal ban, many children still experience violence in the home or at the hands of their educators or carers – an experience that harms their physical and mental health in the short and long term.

The Baltic Sea Region may soon become a no-corporal-punishment zone within Europe and has accumulated important experiences in bringing the ban from law into practice. In the example of Sweden, the Parliament voted in favour of a complete ban on corporal punishment, including in the home, in 1979. Combined with integrated public education, 92% of parents now believe it is wrong to beat or slap a child, and about 3% of parents report having had struck their child in 2011 compared to 28% in 1980. To date, 10 out of the 11 Baltic Sea Region countries have banned corporal punishment: Finland achieved prohibition in 1983, Denmark in 1997, Estonia in 2015, Germany in 2000, Iceland in 2003, Latvia in 1998, Lithuania in 2017, Norway in 1987 and Poland in 2010.

NON-VIOLENT CHILDHOODS promotes the elimination of corporal punishment and other cruel or degrading punishments of children though the changing of the mind-set and public opinion at large. The initiative will share, discuss and systemize the experiences in the Baltic Sea Region countries in transforming traditional attitudes with a wide range of target groups such as families, children and communities; policy makers, public officials and independent institutions; researchers; as well as with the media and faith-based organisations.

Drawing on good practices, notably Finland and Sweden as pioneers of the ban, the project wants to strengthen capacity, knowledge and exchange between governments and relevant stakeholders by providing them with sustainable models of integrated public education and existing initiatives, programmes and information material. Laws, campaigns and programmes already existing in the Baltic Sea Region and beyond will also be mapped. Consultations with ministries, parliamentarians, ombudsmen, NGOs, academia and other related stakeholder groups are planned.

The outcomes of the mapping and consultations will contribute to the development of a comprehensive plan for sustained governmental and multi-stakeholder action to move from the prohibition towards the elimination of corporal punishment of children. The outcomes will also lead to guidance and targeted national-level trainings for key groups and topics, such as good parenting programmes or successful awareness-raising campaigns.

Investing in childhoods without violence is not only an investment in the future of every child and its evolving capacities, skills and resources but also in the future of more safe and secure region.

In the long-term, the project's goal is to significantly reduce the use of corporal punishment in the Baltic Sea Region and encourage other countries in Europe and beyond to ban all corporal punishment of children or to fully implement an already existing ban.

NON-VIOLENT CHILDHOODS is managed by the Council of Baltic Sea States Secretariat (Children at Risk Unit) and the Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children in partnership with Ministries of Estonia, Finland, Sweden and Latvia and the Ombudsman for Children's Rights in Poland. The project was developed in consultation with Ministries across the Baltic Sea Region and with input from other experts and organisations and agencies – campaigning for children's rights and non-violent discipline in all kinds of services for families and children. The activities and goals are grounded in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and are in line with the efforts to address the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal Number 16: ending abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against and torture of children. Eliminating corporal punishment is a key preventative action in fighting all forms of violence against children.

 Photos from the project launch meeting 

Non-Violent Childhoods Project Launch Meeting

Project launch meeting documents

Fact sheet


Participants list

Presentation of the Mapping Study

Presentation from the Norwegian Ombudsman for Children

Presentation from the Global Initiative 

Presentation from Save the Children Sweden

Presentation from Steffan Janson

Presentation from the Estonian Ministry of Social Affairs


Non Violent Childhoods Kick-off Meeting - Planning activities

Non Violent Childhoods Kick-off Meeting 7 Feb 2017 Minutes

Non violent childhoods Mapping Draft Feb 2017


  This project is co-financed by the European Union. 

Announcing the PROTECT Network - ensuring safety for children in migration

The PROTECT Network currently has contacts from 17 European countries from a wide range of professions. These contacts are experts and professionals who are engaged in ensuring safety for children in migration and protecting them from exploitation and trafficking.

When you join this informal network, your name, organization and contact information will be added to a list of contact points. We will distribute your information to those who are on the list. We aim to regularly update the list with new names and updated contacts. When you contact someone in the PROTECT network, you may find the answers you need in your daily work, be it information, ideas, guidance, or even where to turn next for an answer. The PROTECT network of contact points is developed with the kind support of the Nordic Council of Ministers.

The PROTECT Network initiated by the Children at Risk Unit at the Council of the Baltic Sea States Secretariat in collaboration with the Nordic Council of Ministers as part of the PROTECT Children on the Move project. The CBSS Expert Group on Children at Risk and the Nordic Council of Ministers joined together to provide training on preventing the exploitation and trafficking of children on the move. The training is on the basis of the Guidelines Promoting the Human Rights and the Best Interests of the Child in Transnational Child Protection Cases, which was the result of an EU funded project featuring 5 expert consultations during 2013-2015. As the second phase of the PROTECT wrapped up, we invited stakeholders from around Europe become a part of this Network.

The PROTECT Children on the move project will continue into 2018 and beyond, starting with expert and child consultations on identification and referral.

PROMISE Project final conference launches the European Barnahus Movement

The final conference of the PROMISE Project took place 14 June 2017 at the Committee of the Regions in Brussels, Belgium. It focused on advocating for child-friendly multi-disciplinary and interagency services supporting child victims of violence.

High level speakers gave their support to the European Barnahus Movement, including Ms Věra Jourová, European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, and Ms Marta Santos Pais, Special Representative to the UN Secretary-General on Violence against Children. Mr Bragi Guðbrandsson, Lead Expert in the PROMISE project, presented the Icelandic experience and how it has inspired the European Barnahus Movement. Panels of experts discussed multi-disciplinary and interagency response to violence against children in Europe and how the Barnahus model embodies children’s rights. The European Barnahus Quality Standards document were launched.

This was the final conference of the PROMISE project, launched in autumn 2015. Over the two years of this project partnership, the project management met a group of highly professional pioneers from 12 European countries. They were all extremely committed and delighted to be part of this forum and to collaborate with others in support of the different national processes for the establishment of Barnahus. The partners, experts and pilot countries in PROMISE have participated in several exchange meetings and study visits to existing Barnahus. They have discussed with professionals linked to Barnahus and received guidance and advice for designing the service in their own countries. Thus, several countries have established Barnahus, others have a launch date and yet others are preparing the ground. In addition, even more countries in Europe and beyond are joining the movement and are being inspired and interested to start the dynamic process towards the establishment of Barnahus. 

The conference was hosted by the Committee of the Regions. 

For more information pelase visit http://www.childrenatrisk.eu/promise. 


Mr Bragi Guðbrandsson, Icelandic CBSS Expert Group on Children at Risk Chair, 
Ms Věra Jourová, European Commissioner for Justice, 
Ms Marta Santos Pais, Special Representative to the UN Secretary-General on Violence against Children,
Ms Shawnna von Blixen, CBSS Children at Risk Unit Programme Coordinator. 

AudTrain II final conference advocates for ensuring the rights of children in alternative care

On 7-8 June 2017 in Vilnius, the final conference of the AudTrain II project brought together high-level officials and professionals from the Baltic Sea Region who are involved in alternative care and in the monitoring of childcare facilities. The conference engaged the participating experts in a discussion of the relevance of monitoring for national childcare services. The agenda included sessions on quality care, the role of national authorities and an introduction to the AudTrain method. The conference advocated for the importance of taking a child rights approach to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of children in alternative care.

The AudTrain II project 2015-2017 revived the CBSS AudTrain Programme. The project updated the training materials from 2011-2013 and trained 40 new auditors. A module to educate AudTrain trainers was developed and 20 new trainers were trained. Advocacy material was developed by the project and launched at the conference. The project was co-funded by the European Commission.

Launched in 2011, the AudTrain Programme has increased the capacity and skills among professionals who audit and monitor the situation for children in alternative care. It also enhanced children's rights to be heard, to be safe and secure and to be supported in their development while in residential care. The Programme applies a child rights approach through a system-based auditing methodology in child care facilities. The Programme is based on a Norwegian initiated method.

The AudTrain method enables auditors of child welfare facilities to identify shortcomings and the underlying causes within the organisational structure and management system. This type of monitoring holds a large learning potential for the facility and the supervisory authority. The audit is carried out in consultation with the staff and management and is informed by the children. The children are central in the audit as experts on their own lives.

For more information please visit the AudTrain website.

Non-violent Childhoods project visits Sweden on national consultation series tour

The national consultation in Sweden was convened on 8-10 May 2017 and was organised with the cooperation and support from the Swedish Ministry of Health and Social Affairs. The consultation gathered important expertise from Sweden, as the pioneer country in enacting a legal ban of corporal punishment that has a long-standing experience in promoting non-violent childhoods.

Considering the long-standing experience in Sweden and the evolution of the implementation measures of the legal ban over almost four decades, the focus of the Swedish consultation was expanded beyond the theme of corporal punishment to also look at violence against children more broadly. The distinctions between corporal punishment and other forms of violence against children are often not easy to make. Although the practice of corporal punishment has declined significantly over the past decades, children in Sweden are still today affected by violence in different contexts and settings. The interest is therefore to explore the linkages between different forms of violence and how national governments can address these complexities in an integrated way.

Sweden has also initiated the series of high-level dialogues on corporal punishment and non-violent childhoods. The first high-level conference took place in Stockholm in 2014, the second in Vienna two years after and the third one will take place in Malta in 2018.

Currently, Sweden is in the process of incorporating the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into national law. Although relevant laws affirming the human rights of the child and protecting children from all forms of violence are already part of the national legislation, this important process will change the status of the Convention and will continue to promote the knowledge and awareness of the Convention and the right of every child to grow up free from violence.

The national consultation tour visits Finland next, and then Latvia, Estonia and Poland. See the project website for information about the Swedish National Consultation or more information about the project at http://www.childrenatrisk.eu/nonviolence.