Violence against children
(Våld mot barn)
Neither parents nor other adults have the right to abuse children in any way. The community must use every means at its disposal to protect children against physical and sexual abuse.
Because violence injures children, Sweden outlawed corporal punishment in 1979. As a result, it is illegal to physically punish a child for disciplinary reasons. Anyone who strikes or abuses a child may be convicted of a criminal offence and sentenced.
Violence against a child may involve:
- physical abuse – if an adult strikes, kicks, shakes, bites or otherwise injures the child
- psychological abuse – if an adult threatens, insults or frightens the child
- neglect – if an adult does not ensure that the child has food, clothing or health care, or otherwise fails to take care of the child
In accordance with the Penal Code, adults may not have sexual relations with children under 15. Sex between adults and children is regarded as a very serious offence.
Genital mutilation and circumcision
(Könsstympning och omskärelse)
Genital mutilation, or female circumcision, is illegal in Sweden and punishable even if performed abroad. Preparing to perform genital mutilation, or female circumcision, is also against the law.
Circumcision of boys is legal if performed by a medical doctor.
Duty to notify the social services
(Anmälningsplikt till socialtjänsten)
Any adult who encounters a child at work who may be suffering physical abuse, witnessing violence or experiencing other problems is required by law to notify the social services so that the child and family can obtain the support and assistance they need. When the social services find out that a child may be experiencing problems, they launch an investigation of the child’s and family’s situation to determine what assistance is required. If the child is the victim of physical or sexual abuse, or another criminal offence, the police are notified and conduct their own investigation.