From the news desk

Spare the rod, spoil the child

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The long-awaited controversial ruling of corporal punishment in the home, will be handed down in the Constitutional Court on Thursday. Corporal punishment was prohibited in detention settings 23 years ago and was banned in schools in year 2000.

The ruling is a result of a 2017 judgement by the Gauteng High Court which found that corporal punishment violates children’s rights.

According to Freedom of Religion South Africa (For SA), the High Court’s judgement “will make criminals of well-meaning parents who love their children and only wants what is best for them.”

Attorney and legal advisor of For SA Daniela Ellerbeck said this case is not about discipline.

“It is about whether or not the government can tell you how to interpret your holy text and live out your faith including how you can raise your kids,” said Ellerbeck.

Ellerbeck explained that the High Court’s judgment made all forms of physical discipline, including a light tap on the wrist, illegal.

“If you now give your child a spanking or even just a light tap on the wrist for bad behaviour because you believe that you are acting in your child’s best interests, you are committing a crime of assault. You’re opening yourself up to investigation and possible prosecution if someone reports you and a criminal record if convicted.”

Ellerbeck added that there is a clear distinction between violence against children and mild-moderate and loving discipline of a parent who believes they are acting in their child’s best interests.

“For SA is asking to empower parents and give more parenting tools. Not every child is the same. The discipline used on one child is completely different to the discipline that might be effective on another child,” said Ellerbeck.

Ellerbeck reiterates that For SA is opposed to any form of violence against children.

“The defence to moderate chastisement was never a defence to violence. If something like that were to happen, it is a matter for the State to intervene.”

By: Zaahidah Meyer / VOC

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