In April 2019, a new law became effective in Denmark. It is now possible to punish persons who commit psychological violence. This law has subsequently been used more and more, especially in cases regarding children. A survey conducted by Userneeds for Børns Vilkår shows, that every third Dane does not know that psychological violence can be punished.
In 2019, with the help of a new law, it became possible to punish people with a fine or up to three years in prison for committing psychological violence. Psychological violence is defined as actions that demean, humiliate, violate, manipulate, threaten, or isolate the victim.
A survey conducted by Userneeds for Børns Vilkår shows that 97 percent of the Danes are aware of the phenomenon of psychological violence. However, only 66 percent are aware that it can be punishable. Senior consultant at Børns Vilkår, Bente Boserup, compares this result to when it became criminal to hit children in Denmark. It was something people had to get used to. She points out that it might take some time before this knowledge becomes general, and it also requires heightened awareness of psychological violence. According to her it is important that we teach our children that it is not okay to be humiliated or shouted at every single day.
In the survey, Userneeds’ members were also asked if they would notify the local authority if they witnessed physical or psychological violence against a child. 64 percent of the respondents answered that they would notify the local authority if they witnessed a child being subjected to physical violence, but only 39 percent would notify local authority if it was psychological violence. Trine Schaldemode, deputy director at Mødrehjælpen, understands why someone would be afraid to intervene and interfere with other people’s private lives, especially when it is someone we do not know. It can be difficult to go up to a stranger at the local supermarket and tell them that you do not like the way they behave towards their own child. However, Schaldemode believes that this is something that Danes must be better at.
You can read more about the new law and the survey in Danish here Børnene fylder i sager om psykisk vold – sn.dk – Danmark