It was with this statement that President of Malta Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca opened the High-Level Global Conference on the Universal Prohibition of Corporal Punishment, at the Corinthia Palace Hotel in Attard.
The President said that laws and policies need to reflect the true aspirations of our children, as otherwise they will be irrelevant, and for this reason she encouraged the participants of the high-level global conference to listen to the voices of children themselves. During the conference, they were given their space through a special video presentation created by the members of the Children’s Council, the Young People’s Council and the Children Consultation Group, within the President’s Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society.
“We are all here to work together. We are all here to send a strong message, of zero tolerance towards violence against children, as one united family of nations.”
President Coleiro Preca stated that corporal punishment is an unacceptable violation of a child’s rights, and also a serious attack on the child’s intrinsic human dignity.
She added that rather than improving children’s behaviour, corporal punishment demonstrates aggressive attitudes which can later manifest in antisocial and destructive activities, reminding those present that children develop their personalities and attitudes based upon the experiences they have received.
The President expressed her satisfaction at the amendment of the Criminal Code, by which all forms of corporal punishment are prohibited, which was enacted in February 2014 in Malta.
“There can be no excuse for physically harming children, because there is nothing reasonable about inflicting violence upon our children”, President Coleiro Preca said.
“It is crucial for us to prioritise a cultural change in all of our societies around the world.”
President Coleiro Preca said that where the culture of corporal punishment still exists, we must move beyond attitudes of shame and silence, further stating that in such circumstances the necessary opportunities for healing within all families and communities must be created.
For the great shift to be achieved, the President called for education amongst parents and care-givers so that they pursue non-violent and non-abusive forms of discipline. President Coleiro Preca appealed to all countries and the international community as a whole to work together to safeguard all children from any sort of violence.
“The path forward is clearly reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, in addition to the United Nations’ Agenda 2030 and its Sustainable Development Goals, especially SDG 16 and target 16.2”, the President said.
President Coleiro Preca also appealed to the media, adding that it has a vital role to play by working in synergy to promote processes of legal reform and social policy measures, in order to help in bringing about the necessary transformation.
The High-Level Global Conference on the Universal Prohibition of Corporal Punishment is being organised by the Office of the President, The President’s Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society, the Ministry for the Family, Children’s Rights and Social Solidarity, and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Trade Promotion.