Government To Dictate How To Raise Your Kids

The SA government is taking from their citizens again. This time, it’s the right to discipline your kids. What are your thoughts?
Melissa Cohen
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.