A Swedish court has jailed the parents of three children who were regularly beaten since the age of three in what they claimed was a method of discipline prescribed in the Bible.
The couple, from Karlstad in central Sweden, were imprisoned for nine months apiece, according to a Sveriges Television (SVT) report.
Corporal punishment, formally outlawed in Sweden in 1979, was a regular feature of three of the couple’s four children’s lives, the Värmland district court heard.
According to the court transcripts, the parents “explained that they had used, what they themselves described as spanking, physical punishment as part of their methods for raising the children.”
The court heard that the couple had used a hairbrush, a wooden plank or a hand to punish their three eldest children, SVT reported.
The father explained that when the children did something wrong they were given a first warning and then a second and if they, for example, carried on cycling in the street without permission, they would then receive a physical punishment.
The court found that “despite the details of the case at hand” the parents “had a loving and caring relationship to their children”, but that the systematic treatment metered out was in breach of the law and deserving of a custodial sentence.
The parents were furthermore order to pay damages of 25,000 kronor to each of the affected children.
The three children at the centre of the case, as well as a younger sibling, have been in care since the preliminary investigation was opened against their parents in the beginning of the summer.
Parents’ rights to meter out physical punishment was revoked already in 1966 in Sweden, with a formal legal ban coming into into force in July 1979. Children in Sweden now enjoy the same legal protection from physical assault afforded to adults.