Corporal punishment - abuse or discipline?

2016-02-11 06:00

THE government bans the spanking of children, whether at home or school, however, religion and tradition don’t agree with this.

In African culture parents have the right to spank their children when they misbehave or do wrong. Government says this is abuse.

Recently it was reported in the news that a woman smacked her daughter, the next thing she saw was a police van outside her gate.

An argument between South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) and religious leaders arose as the leaders said corporal punishment is distinguished between “abuse” and “chastisement”, defined as “a parent striking the buttocks of a child to cause temporary pain without producing physical injury”.

SAHRC said advocacy of corporal punishment in the home was unacceptable, regardless of whether it is based on religion. The commission specifically finds that corporal punishment of children violates the rights of the child to protection from maltreatment, neglect, abuse and degradation.

Port Shepstone Child Welfare manager Sagree Naicker said according United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child and the South African Constitution recognise children’s best interests and their rights to respect of their human dignity, physical integrity and equal protection.

“We have seen many children who have been the victims of corporal punishment, who felt degraded and torn apart, emotionally. They have had to have counselling to deal with their experience and recover from it,” said Naicker.

Naicker said in almost all instances, parents will revert to corporal punishment out of anger, making the punishment worse than they meant it to be.

She said there are other ways of punishing children without spanking them - grounding them is one.

“There are alternative child-rearing methods to promote discipline rendering corporal punishment unnecessary. We and many organisations and counsellors offer parental skills training for parents who wish to learn more about how to raise their children in the best possible way,” said Naicker.

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