The Constitutional Court will rule in 2019 on whether or not it will be legal to use corporal punishment on your children in your home. Image Credit: 

To hit or not to hit your child?

Date: 09 December 2018 By: Jo Robinson

Viewed: 550

The Constitutional Court (ConCourt) of South Africa reserved judgement last week in an appeal that challenges a Johannesburg High Court ruling in 2017 that it violates the rights of children for their parents to spank them, and that such physical discipline is therefore illegal.

ConCourt listened to arguments from those who are pro-spanking, as well as those opposed to corporal punishment, last Thursday before reserving judgement until 2019. Corporal punishment has already been declared unconstitutional in schools and detention settings and banned there.

Freedom of Religion South Africa, represented by Advocate Reg Willis, explained that a difference can be made between “reasonable, moderate chastisement and punishment”, but other groups and individuals, including the Minister of Social Development, Bathabile Dlamini, want all forms of corporal punishment in the home banished completely. The Justices present were concerned about the difficulty of being able to differentiate between reasonable chastisement and violence. The ConCourt ruling will now wait for a decision one way or another in 2019. This time next year, spanking their own children could be completely illegal for parents, and some parents are concerned that this could lead to junior monsters.

The Zoutpansberger asked for input from residents on this hot topic – to smack or not smack your children. Two completely opposing and firmly entrenched groups exist in South Africa regarding what is wrong or right when it comes to spanking your own children, or even whether doing so or not is anyone other than the parents’ business.

Respondents in Louis Trichardt, on the other hand, are mostly unanimous: Tan their backsides,” said Lynne Novella in response to a survey posted on the newspaper’s Facebook page. Most commenters also agreed with Ronja Janse van Rensburg, who said: "I think 'smack' is the wrong word to use. It’s called discipline, and YES, I firmly believe one should teach their child the right from wrong as it states in Proverbs 29:17", which says you must discipline your children, and they will give you peace; they will bring you the delights you desire. At the time of our going to press, every commenter, without exception, agreed with Ronja or had a similar opinion. Henriette van der Schyff said: “Proper discipline never killed us, and these days a person can easily see who is being properly raised”, while Tersia Kock agreed that a good hiding never killed anyone, adding that “there is a connection between the brain and the buttocks”.

All in all, 100% of local respondents to the question of whether giving your children a hiding should be allowed or not believe it to be a good thing. At this point, a growing group of countries around the world have indeed banned corporal punishment. This is now a very real possibility for South Africa, possibly leaving parents, or at least local parents, wondering how they are going to teach their children manners and respect.





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Jo Robinson

Jo joined the Zoutpansberger and Limpopo Mirror in 2018 pursuing a career in journalism after many years of writing fiction and non-fiction for other sectors.



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