In France, a violent father has just been acquitted in the name of his “right of correction”. How is it possible ?

In France, a violent father has just been acquitted in the name of his “right of correction”.  How is it possible ?

While he was accused of physical and psychological violence against his ex-wife and his sons, a former police officer was acquitted in a judgment rendered by the Metz Court of Appeal invoking his “right of correction”. A problematic notion which blurs that of educational violence.

This is a decree that we did not expect… In 2024. Last Thursday, the Metz Court of Appeal delivered its verdict in the case of a police officer accused of violence against his wife and two sons. The man who had been sentenced to eighteen months in prison and the withdrawal of his parental authority at first instance was simply acquitted, the court invoking the father's “right to correction”.

Paternal violence, yes, but “following stupidity”

The court thus justifies itself in its judgment of around thirty pages. : “Every parent has the right to use force measured and appropriate to the attitude and age of their child as part of their educational obligation.

But what about “slaps, spankings for stupid things, strangulation, lifting by the collar followed by being slammed against the wall, as well as hurtful reflections, demeaning remarks and insults” noted by Justice? Or “punches in the stomach, if we don’t get very good grades” denounced by the eldest boy? Are these actions not seen as reprehensible violence? No, for the court of appeal which “notes that (the children) do not mention spankings, slaps, hair pulling or other gratuitous acts but resulting from stupidities that they may have done, disobedience or exaggerated delays in the execution of certain paternal instructions.

The right of correction, a notion from another time

“It's incredible” , protests Mr. Jérôme Tiberi, who defends children, in 20 Minutes. “If the court had mentioned a lack of elements to acquit him with the benefit of the doubt, we could have heard it, but there, it is written in black and white that the children's word is not called into doubt.

Even more surprising, no one knows where this notion comes from, evokes another senior magistrate, because this right of correction does not exist in the Penal Code. “Hitting a child is a crime. All forms of violence against a minor are punished.” he insists. And this, since the law relating to the prohibition of ordinary educational violence, nicknamed the “anti-spanking” law adopted on July 10, 2019.

“It’s a leap of fifty years into the past,” alarms Jérôme Tiberi. “What will be the next step, the right of correction of a husband over his wife?”

“It’s a double violence for the children concerned”

Contacted on this astonishing subject from another time, Laura Morin, national director of the L'Enfant bleu Association, which acts against abused children, does not hide her amazement:

“We are stunned and scandalized, even though we have a law which very clearly prohibits spanking and the use of physical violence. It is incomprehensible! The very term correction is incredibly violent. For one child who had the courage to speak out about what he may have experienced, who saw his physical and psychological integrity violated, the response given is “well your father had the right. It's terrible for consideration”. of his word.”

The argument of “measured” violence also makes her jump: “The principle today is that we do not use violence, whatever happens to impose our point of view or to be obeyed, the question of measure should not arise. It’s so crazy, but it’s double violence against children.”

The story may not be over. The day after this decision, the General Prosecutor's Office announced that it would appeal to the Court of Cassation.

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