SOUTH AFRICA: Spanking in the home comes under the spotlight

[14 August 2013] - 

Spanking as a form of discipline is once again under the microscope.

The government says the practice could lead to child abuse and is looking at ways to outlaw it - something that has received mixed reaction.

The Department of Social Development is working towards banning corporal punishment in the home in a bid to curb child abuse.

Smacking was supposed to be outlawed when the children's act was first amended in 2007, but at the last minute the government did an about-turn and halted the ban on corporal punishment.

Children's rights organisations say the government has dragged its feet on the issue for long enough.

The government department recently held a workshop on the issue and has decided to move towards making smacking illegal.

“You’ve got very strong lobby groups against it and strong lobby groups for it," said Margot Davids of the department.

"However, if you look at it from a child rights perspective, the position that the department has taken is to not having spanking in the home.”

Studies suggest that abuse at home accounts for almost half of child murders in South Africa.

Many child rights organisations say a ban on corporal punishment is the first step to curbing those murders.

But it will be a while before the laws are changed as the department hasn’t included a ban on spanking in the amendments to the children’s act that are currently before parliament.









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