City Press debate: To spank or not to spank

2013-08-04 14:01

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Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini insists that parents have to take responsibility and raise their children with proper values.

Her department and the University of the Western Cape-based Children’s Rights Project are working on drafting a bill which, if passed, would outlaw corporal punishment at home.

Five City Press staffers share their views on the proposed legislation.

Gayle Edmunds

Legislating in the home is notoriously useless. You aren’t allowed to beat your spouse, but spouses are beaten every day.

The kind of parents who think spanking their children is discipline are going to cock a snook at a law that tells them otherwise.

There’s very little point in creating more criminals in a country overflowing with them.

Where are we going to put all the parents who wallop their children? Who is going to take care of their children while they are doing time?

It would be better for the state to spend our hard-earned cash to create awareness around why hitting your children only teaches them to respond with violence and is a poor substitute for active parenting.

This is why I don’t bother spanking my child, because violence begets violence. When my child was too small to listen to logic and about to stick her finger in a plug, I’d whack her hand as a deterrent.

The only time a smack is the only option is when danger is imminent. Other than that, it is pointless.

I dare not hit my child while I am so cross that I feel the desire to do so overwhelmingly. By the time I am calm enough to administer a balanced hiding, it’s well after the naughtiness and so is just confusing.

A stint on the stairs with no toys or attention does wonders. What works best of all though are rewards for good behaviour rather than violent sanctions for bad.

As for the state, they should know us better. South Africans don’t even adhere to sensible laws like sticking to the speed limit.

A law like this is just plain lazy. It will end up being just another law the government has no capacity or will to enforce.

The issue of unsuitable parents and parenting methods is a monstrous social problem. But sorry, one half-arsed law isn’t going to cut it.

Denvor de Wee

I fail to understand why government now wants to rule all the way into my house when they can’t even address pressing issues in the country.

As a child, I received a regular spanking from my mother and I hated every minute of it.

But today I realise why she spanked me and I’m reaping the fruits of all that pain and humiliation. As a youngster, I learnt responsibility and this is all thanks to my mother’s strict parenting.

As a parent, I will spank my kids when absolutely necessary, but I don’t agree with doing it out of anger.

My children are spanked when they misbehave and I make sure they know why they are being spanked. This is also my way of teaching them a sense of responsibility.

I love my children very much and will move mountains to ensure their safety and happiness. I’m hoping that through punishment and strict parenting, they’ll grow into disciplined and focused adults.

Government has no right to prescribe to me how to raise my children in my own home. The state should instead provide textbooks, school furniture and other basic services to the millions of pupils in schools across the country.

These kids are failed dismally and not much is done by government to secure their futures as young adults.

Why don’t they also invest in parenting courses for those neglecting their children on a daily basis?

Invest in improving the lives of all children. Provide basic services like housing, sanitation, affordable electricity and proper roads.

Use my tax money to fight crime, poverty and corruption. Provide antiretrovirals to millions of Aids sufferers.

Improve the justice system and create much-needed jobs. This will create a better country for our children.

Don’t interfere in my family life and prescribe how I should raise my kids. Leave parenting to my wife and I.

The government should instead focus on running a safe and democratic South Africa for my children and the millions of my fellow South Africans out there.

Zinhle Mapumulo

When I saw a headline screaming “Parents to be banned from spanking”, I thought it must be the late night I’d had that was deceiving me.

I read the article twice, thinking I was missing something.

She must be joking, I thought. How are we supposed to discipline kids who never listen when we can’t even spank them?

But then I remembered I hated being spanked as a child and never understood what gave people the right to spank others.

I was fortunate enough to grow up at a time when my mother had lost her iron duchess touch.

I’m told she was a “no-nonsense disciplinarian” who gave it good when you did something wrong.

I guess she must have used up all her spanking energy by the time she had her sixth child, which was yours truly, because I never saw that side of her.

I’m grateful for that, because I don’t think spanking me would have helped me turn into a better person than I am right now.

I know people whose parents used a strong hand to discipline them back in the day and, believe me, they are more messed up today than a Young Designers Emporium store during a R99 sale.

They became so familiar with being spanked, they no longer perceived it as discipline, just another power game parents play.

More often than not, they ended up rebelling because there was nothing more their folks could do.

And I wouldn’t want my daughter to grow up like that.

So maybe it is time to start considering other forms of “non-abusive” discipline, like taking away your child’s privileges.

You know your child and know what they love.

Remove those perks and you will be amazed at how quickly they get back to toeing the line.

I have tried it and it works.

I know you are probably rolling your eyes and saying this is bull, but sit down and drink a steaming cider in the corner.

I challenge you to try it.

Remember, the trick is that they have to do a little more than what they were being punished for, to make up for it, before regaining their privileges.

This will teach them responsibility.

Yvonne Grimbeek

My 12-year-old son has never owned a toy gun. People who have given him guns as gifts are not allowed in my house. I switch televisionchannels when there is violence on the news and he is in the room. And I do this because I abhor violence.

I have a child who prefers animals to humans because animals don’t just randomly kill and maim each other.

If I had to count the number of times I have smacked him, I would need less than the fingers on one hand. I am physically incapable of administering a beating, especially to a much-loved child.

Yet I am fuming at the government’s interference in how I raise my son. I don’t like a nanny state. I don’t like stupid, restrictive laws that assume I don’t have a brain.

I grew up in a household where father was strict and brooked no arguments. Sure, we saw the wrong side of his hand or belt a few times and, sure, we probably deserved it.

We were healthy, naughty children who insisted on pushing the boundaries of parental control (pretty much like any child in the world).

I choose to discipline my child in a way both of us can cope with. He knows full well when boundaries have been crossed and he knows the consequences.

But whether the consequence is a smack on the butt or a time-out, it is, and will always be, my decision.

S'Busiso Mseleku

So it may soon be unlawful to spank one’s child at home. I spank my children, if they deserve it, and see nothing wrong with it.

But I do have a problem with people who spank or even shout at their children in public.

Given the way I was brought up, a spanking follows only after several warnings and talking to a child who continues to do what they have been told not to.

The purpose of a spanking is to drive the message home of the severity of their transgression. It is meant as a reminder that parents do not like or allow certain things.

We cannot allow unacceptable behaviour to go unpunished in our homes.

As a Christian, I also abide by what is written in the Bible.

Proverbs, chapter 13, verse 24 says: “Whoever spares the rod, hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.”

I love my children. I discipline them with the aim of making them better people and upright citizens. I will have a serious problem with our government passing such a law.

But I will not be surprised, seeing that it’s the same government that has put rights ahead of responsibilities, but then cries foul when students burn a library in protest at not finding a certain book, burn down a train station because a train did not arrive on time, trash a big city because they are not happy with salaries, show their buttocks to people they disagree with or, worse still, throw faeces to show disgruntlement.

You sow a wind, you will reap a whirlwind.

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