Corporal punishment violates children’s rights – SAHRC

2014-05-29 13:55

Corporal punishment is a violation of children’s rights, the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has said.

“South Africa abolished corporal punishment in September 1997 and, 16 years later, corporal punishment is being applied by some educators,” SAHRC chairperson Lawrence Mushwana said today.

Corporal punishment involves using force to inflict pain and discomfort on a child.

Speaking at an SAHRC conference in Joburg on ending corporal punishment in schools, Mushwana said its abolition was in line with international practice.

“It is therefore of grave concern that there are still schools administering corporal punishment. Corporal punishment must be ended as it violates the learner’s right to education and dignity.”

He said action taken against those who applied corporal punishment was disproportionate to the damage done to children.

This message was echoed by SAHRC commissioner Lindiwe Mokate who said figures from 2012 indicated that 2.2 million children were subjected to corporal punishment in South Africa.

“That just tells you the extent of corporal punishment in our country,” she said.

“This practice limits the enjoyment of a number of constitutional rights.”

She said major concerns included the severity of beatings, the large number of incidents, the reporting of corporal punishment and the effectiveness of disciplinary measures against perpetrators.

While government, education departments, trade unions and principals had tried to tackle the problem, they had not acted together.

“They were not acting in concert with each other,” said Mokate.

This meant that their actions against corporal punishment were limited and “scattered”.

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