A Florida man was charged for critically injuring a newborn baby who was under his care. This is a representational image showing a person in handcuffs in Sydney, Australia, June 23, 2018. Getty Images/Mark Kolbe

A 9-year-old boy was beaten to death at his home in the eastern French city of Mulhouse after he refused to do his homework. According to police sources, the boy was hit with a broom handle and other “blunt objects.”

Four members of the same family were arrested over suspicion of involvement. The boy's older brother, sister, and stepsister were all in the house at the time. The boy’s mother was not present when the incident took place, but she too was arrested, reports said. Those present at the scene claimed an ambulance was called after the beating, but paramedics were unable to save the boy.

An autopsy found that the boy had suffered a cardiac arrest during the beating, however, the blunt force trauma was the cause of his death. The examination also discovered bruises on the boy’s body, particularly on his feet. The exact circumstances surrounding the boy’s death remain unclear.

According to French media, the boy's mother had been away from home on a business trip to Paris, but she actively encouraged his punishment. All four family members were held in custody in Mulhouse and are set to appear in front of a local prosecutor before a judicial investigation begins, the BBC reported. It is believed that the 19-year-old elder brother carried out the punishment which led to the boy’s death.

The boy's death comes at a time when France's National Assembly is about to consider a ban on smacking. The national legal authority head, Jacques Toubon, said earlier this week that all forms of violence against children should be banned. According to the France Info radio station, Toubon said passing the new legislation would “raise public awareness of [the benefits of a] caring and positive education, as well as of the consequences of violence of all kinds on children, whether physical or psychological.”

A recent research claimed countries that ban the smacking of children appear to be safer for young people to grow up in. Experts said the study revealed how punishing children by smacking, slapping or spanking them can lead to harm.

“The association with academic problems and mental health problems and so on among those kids that have this experience in early life, that is pretty well established,” Dr Frank Elgar, co-author of the research from McGill University in Canada said in October. “Our question was about policy.”

Elizabeth Gershoff, professor of human development and family sciences at the University of Texas at Austin, who was not involved in the study, said: “One of the strongest effects on children is increasing aggression – because being hit is an example of using aggression with other people, so children learn that... It also is linked with a greater increase in mental health problems like depression or anxiety.”