The big 'spanking' debate: Parents, experts weigh in

2017-10-24 16:42
(File, Gallo Images)

(File, Gallo Images)

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A new court ruling that makes spanking your child illegal in South Africa has sparked major debate, with many - including powerful religious groups - disagreeing with the South Gauteng High Court. Catch up on the debate here.

Reaction to 'spanking judgment' highlights SA's missing moral compass

Michael Swain's recent News24 guest column and the results of the poll conducted on the same site following the 19 October ruling by the South Gauteng High Court that the common law defence of reasonable and moderate chastisement of underage children is unconstitutional and no longer applies in our law is a tragic indictment of our nation's missing moral compass.

In a country where a child is murdered every nine hours of every single day, how on earth does Mr Swain and the well-educated middle class folk perusing the pages of our leading daily news site reconcile their need to beat their children at will with the stark reality most of our children live in, asks Andre Fourie, a concerned parent.

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Does the Bible condone corporal punishment?

Last week we saw a high court ruling that outlawed the use of corporal punishment by parents as a method of disciplining their children. It wasn't long before we saw this judgement take a beating on social media.

I was raised in an Afrikaans, conservative, Dutch Reformed home, school and community where "buig die boompie terwyl hy jonk is" (meaning: bend the tree while it is young, which, by the way, is not a Bible verse) was understood to include a good dose of corporal punishment, every now and then, just to keep me on the straight and narrow.

After all, this is supposedly what God expects from God fearing people. However, in the end it was not the "pakslae" (caning) that instilled good values in me, but the examples of parents and various adults who acted with loving care and instruction that formed my values. The canings only instilled fear and caused pain. It taught me if all else fails, resort to violence, writes Riaan de Villiers, a Dutch Reformed Minister.

Parents won't go to jail for 'every little smack' 

After the finding on Thursday, much of the commentary in social media in the last few days have raised the concern that parents will now be criminalised for 'every little smack', and that the criminal justice system will become even more overloaded.

This is hardly the case. In fact, in her judgement, the judge was at pains to stress that the intention is to guide and support parents in finding more positive and effective ways of disciplining children, and not to charge parents with a crime.

In addition, it is a sad reality that children seldom report even the most egregious assaults against them. The notion that they are now going to stream into police stations and clog up the system with frivolous complaints is highly unlikely. It is also seldom in children's best interests to imprison their parents.

Finally, our legal system operates on the principle that it does not concern itself with the trivial (the lex minimus principle), writes Carol Bower, an expert from the Quaker Peace Centre.

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'Spanking judgment' encroaches on parents' freedom

There is however a fundamental and obvious difference between violence and abuse, and reasonable and moderate chastisement in love. It is unfortunate that the judgment does not recognise this distinction which is also recognised by the social sciences, and considers chastisement in all circumstances to be detrimental and harmful to children.

We are also concerned that the judgment makes serious inroads on parental authority, as well as on the freedom of millions of South African parents who believe that reasonable and moderate physical chastisement done from time to time, always in love, is in the best interests of their children, write FOR SA's Michael Swain.

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To spank or not to spank... is no longer the question

While my son has never had a full-on proper hiding, I cannot say I haven't been partial to the occasional smack. And it's never a proud moment either.

When he was toddling and would do dangerous things, he would get a small smack. Well, more like a little swat on the hand. I'd rather that than a pot of boiling water comes tumbling down on him or dangerous behaviour results in an unsolicited trip to the ER – or worse.

It's not easy conveying to very young children that certain actions could have devastating consequences. And sometimes a tap on the hand does get the message across. It is a long way from assault, writes Estrelita Moses, an uncertain mother.

Read more.

You voted:

MyNews24: Spare the rod and save the child

I do believe that there is a fine line between assault and disciplining. Mental and physical abuse is evil and no child should ever be victim of it.

Discipline however is necessary and lately there is a frightening lack of it. As a child we were raised in a very strict manner yet we have always been loved, protected and treated fairly. We knew what the barriers were and if we overstepped the line, the belt was surely felt.

MyNews24: Court is now the new parent

The courts clearly want to take over the role of being the parent.

Well, I suggest that all parents take their children to court to be disciplined by the judges. They clearly understand the difference between a spank and assault as they put the 2 things into the same category.


MyNews24: Spanking is not child abuse

Should my child disrespect a woman or adult or me or his dad, he is spoken to and if he does not listen, yes I give one smack on the bum and send him to his room. He will then come out and admit what he did was wrong and apologise. 

My son will not grow up to be a violent person, he will will not bully your child in school, he will not rape or hurt women, he will respect your daughter. He will protect your daughter and their children. 

The government of this country are raising criminals, the good parents of this country want to raise good men and women, we are not abusing our kids at all.

What are your views on the topic? Submit your opinions via MyNews24 or email feedback@news24.com.

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