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October 24th, 2017 by

On October 19, the Gauteng High Court  ruled that raising your hand to your child is illegal. Judge Raylene Keightley ruled that parents are no longer allowed to hit their children, regardless of their actions.

Many people are up in arms saying that their parents ran around the dining room table with a wooden spoon, and they are fine today.

But what do you think? We find out more about this new law…

What Is Corporal Punishment? 

According to Childline SA, corporal punishment refers to the “Physical punishment handed down to someone from a teacher or parent.”

Parents were, until now, allowed to justify their corporal punishment as chastisement.

This has now changed and Judge Keightley has ruled that “The common law defence of reasonable chastisement is unconstitutional and no longer applies in our law.”

The Constitution, Children’s Act and the criminal law protect children against any form of abuse. Smacking your child is now considered a form of abuse or assault.

The UN Committee has urged South Africa to amend the law and make corporal punishment illegal. This amendment was, in fact, supposed to have already been implemented last year.

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Discipline Is A Crime

A good few years back, corporal punishment took place in schools around South Africa. This was amended and a teacher is no longer allowed to raise a hand to a child.

According to the South African School’s Act(1996) Section 10(1), “No person may administer corporal punishment at a school to a learner.” If a teacher is caught, they could face assault charges.

Keightley justifies her judgement as, if an adult hits another adult then it is considered assault. So what makes hitting a child any different?

She explains that she doesn’t want parents to think that she is against discipline, however this new law gives parents the chance to find alternative methods of discipline.

South Africa is now, one of seven African countries that has abolished corporal punishment.

The seven countries are:

  • Kenya;
  • South Sudan;
  • Tunisia;
  • Benin;
  • Cabo Verde;
  • Republic of Congo;
  • Togo.

Here’s What Some Had To Say…

Some organisations believe that this law goes against religious and personal beliefs. The African Christian Democratic Party(ACDP) is very unhappy with the high court ruling.

According to the ACDP’s MP,  Cheryllyn Dudley, the party is willing to support a public interest appeal.

“The ACDP takes issue with this decision by one judge as it usurps the role of parliament whose responsibility it is to make and amend laws,” explained Dudley in a recent interview.

She believes that the new amendment will negatively affect families, as parents will now feel undermined by the law.

Freedom of Religion South Africa also expressed their distress over the ‘no spanking’ law. FOR SA’s Director, Michael Swain outlined his understanding of the difference between child abuse and chastisement in love.

Others Felt Differently

Sonke Gender Justice welcomed the high court’s ruling as they saw it as a victory for violence against children.

Sonke Gender Justice’s Wessel van den Berg described the ruling as “crucial”. Van Den Berg explains that research has shown that men exposed to violence at a young age, are more likely engaging in violent acts as adults.

Van Den Berg is ready to work with the government to provide parents with alternative disciplinary methods.

Swain stated that people have three weeks to appeal, from the date of judgement, to the Supreme Court of Appeal.

So what do you think of this new law? Let us know your thoughts.

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  • AdBreak

    The gov needs to learn to discipline it’s leadership first before dictating what to do with our children. We should only consider their ruling when they have clothed, sheltered, educated, entertained and nurtured our children. Until then, stop trying to breed criminals.

    • Francois Engelbrecht

      and there is some breeding in this country. Who cares if there is a future of a specific child as you have made sure there is enough backups in place. Your retirement policy needs lots and lots of financial sources.

  • Kivaro

    Amending the law is well and good sometimes, however in this case it was very quick for the judge to say don’t spank (which is not a bad thing) but while we parents and the government try to find alternative ways of punishment, we parents are left with uncertainty of what to do when kids are unruly and we all know how long it take for such solutions to come through. We are now going to imprison or punish the loving parents who try to discipline their kids which will leave a lot of these say kids with no care givers

    • Sophia de Jager

      You can still punish your child but do not make use of redundant methods. There are many ways to teach a child the correct behaviour. My son in law counts to 3 and his son knows he must change his act. I am surprise to see the child of 4 years stopping the wrong behaviour. There is a time out method which are used , but although it works sometimes it is not so effective. I challenge you to try the Shanarri method for 2 weeks, and do not bribe the child, and you will see wonders. Children do not need more fear. They must know they have a right to say what they like and dislike, without being verbally abused.

    • Ashley Crookes

      Haha, I think more and more parents do nothing these days and their kids just carry on screaming and making a scene. That has become the norm, in my experience. Why? Because there is no discipline!

  • Sophia de Jager

    South Africans I am one of you. I also gave my children hidings, but became a teacher and taught abroad where I saw how they disciplined children. I was in the Middle East and now I am in Scotland. I did voluntary teaching and was astonished how well the children behaved. They were made responsible for their own discipline. There are many reasons why corporate punishment does not work anymore. With technology children started thinking for themselves. They are able to solve their own problems. We want them to be critical thinkers, so why don’t we make them responsible for their own actions? When a grade 1 child or a teenager are doing something wrong, there should be communication!!! Do you think you made the right choice? How can you make it better? How did other people suffer by your bad choice? All people should be accountable for their own actions, self direct the discipline and respect others.
    I have not seen a country who cares and respect children more and visa versa than here in Scotland. Children with disability goes to the normal school. I have to return to South Africa, because I do not have a work visa. We close doors and South Africans suffer all over.
    Here is a link called SHANARRA. Each letter means something. S=Safety, H=health etc

  • Sophia de Jager

    Here are links to SHANARRI way of discipline and activities,
    Applying this knowledge ensures happy fulfilled children and grown ups. For the educators use TWINKL website.

  • Francois Engelbrecht

    So what to you do when your religious teaching conflicts with the “law”? Sorry, but I fear God way more than the law.

    No wonder the people of this country is out of control. There is just no understanding of repercussions for their actions. A culture of no punishment and since there is no punishments the actual wrong doing does not exist either.

    • Sophia de Jager

      Die Bybelvers is heeltemal korrek en in Spreuke staan wanneer jy jou kind tugtig, red jy hom van die dood.Hier is twee metodes gegee. Pakslae of teregwysing. Dissipline verdwyn nie as jy ‘n kind nie slaan nie, maar daar is ander vorme van terugwysing wat ook effektief is. Ons sit met kinders wie fisies en geestelik gemolesteer word en groot word dat hulle nie goed genoeg is nie en dat hulle ‘n mislukking is. Alle kinders moet gekoester en veilig voel. Deur ‘n kind te slaan wie aan mishandeling blootgestel word, sal die negatiewe in ‘n kind uitbring. By die skool moet alle kinders op dieselfde platvorm wees en die huis, skool en community het ‘n uiters belangrike rol om te speel.Deur vir iemand iets moois te sĂȘ of te doen bring die mooi in die persoon uit. Deur ‘n kind te dreig en ‘n dwars klap te gee , bring die teenoorgestelde reaksie uit.

      • Francois Engelbrecht

        Sophia, I don’t say all children should receive physical discipline but on the opposite spectrum is kids who will exploit this and they do need it. There is no golden rule how to deal with all kids and this is the wrong approach to make it illegal to punish by means of a reasonable hiding. You are welcome to say nice little things to the child that is clearly a piece if rubbish in the making but then you should also say nice things to the grow criminal who also had a hard life, ag shame. Punishment (within reason) is a form of teaching repercussions for unexceptionable behavior. If there is no such teaching the irresponsible and unexceptionable behavior with escalate.

        You tell you child (God forbid this never happens) who got raped that that is a bad man and he will get a good talking to? People should stop this BS of we can fix anything and everything with love, patience and conversation. Criminals are breed and they don’t give a fudge about this approach. It may work for a small percentage of children but while you safeguard them you cause a much bigger problem elsewhere. This legislation and approach is short sighted and irresponsible.

        • Sophia de Jager

          Using the Shanarri method is a way to prevent bad behaviour in future. The bad behaviour of today is the result of corporal punishment , neglect, abuse and harm in various ways. I spend time in a school where you may not touch a child in any manner where they applied the Shanarri method. I went to all grades unannounced and saw calm happy children using the best learning techniques for learning.

          • Francois Engelbrecht

            I got hidings on a regular bases (and I deserved every single one off them), my parents worked hard and long hours (from 6am and often to 8pm), so they did not have time to sit and Shanarri any of the 4 children. They did enforce good morals and better decision making practices thou. All 4 children turned out well balanced, well behaved and successful individuals. If you really want to know why children misbehave rather start looking at cultural issues instead of blaming it on corporal punishment. Your argument does not hold water and reminds me of flower power hippies thinking they will solve problems with just love. Love is important but its not all that is required. If your argument and method is the best way then why does adults go to jail for misbehaving and receive fine in stead off a booking at the psychologist. You need to think holistically and also consider that children will hopefully become adults. Adults, who will then have a huge challenge because the coaching is gone and the reality of life is often punishing in a not verbal and communication way.

          • Ashley Crookes

            Agreed. I received corporal punishment and turned out just fine thank you. The only time I have “criminal” thoughts is when I see/hear a child screaming and carrying on, and the parent does nothing. THAT, is Criminal, and what people should be focusing on. A child is not the same as an adult, they have to learn, so they cannot be compared to adults and have adult behaviours. If you tell your child not to touch the hot stove, what do they want to do? They will touch it! Unless you smack their hand away – what are you ultimately doing, abusing them?! No! You are preventing them from being burned! Literally and figuratively. Also, you know what? People have a right to choose how to discipline their child.

  • stanley

    Whose agenda is served by this: Ask any Black, Indian, Coloured, Chinese, Muslim, Jew, Hindu or Christian about this and they will all agree that discipline including corporal punishment (NOT ABUSE) is necessary at times.
    These kind of leaders/professors/sociologists/child specialists have their heads so deeply stuck in their colonial masters backsides that they feel incompetent in providing home grown solutions!
    Can you not see the decadence in USA /European schools once they have adopted these kinds of policies that abandon discipline.

    • Ashley Crookes

      Not sure what “colonial” has to do with any of this. Corporal punishment was most certainly around under colonial rule. We just have plain and stupid people trying to run a country, but they don’t even know how to wipe their own backsides!

  • Ashley Crookes

    …which is exactly why the children (and people) of today have no laws, no morals, and no discipline. Our teachers have no idea how to deal with learners who swear at them, and abuse them. Our people in general have become a bunch of criminals because there is no punishment, it’s just a do what you want, when you want system.

    I’m sorry JUDGE Keightley, but you are a complete RETARD (my apologies go out if I offended any actual retarded people), and I would be happy to tell you that to your face.

    • stanley

      100% true Ashley, my personal take is that when one removes God as the authority, one replaces that with MAN as their authority, therefore these judges can wield their power as they feel like. In a true democracy the majority of the people should have their say on matters concerning morality.
      I received a beating growing up for smoking and other naughty things- never smoked or drank since 7 years old. I remember the lesson, not the pain. Gave my son a beating for swearing when he was 3 years old, he never used a vulgar word since ( he is 21 now)…. Spare the rod and you will spoil the child…. however I always taught my kids the right way first, before resorting to discipline.