Physically disciplining your children? A total ban is now one step closer

Within the next month, the act of physically disciplining your children could soon become completely outlawed, as the Children’s Amendment Bill has been shared with the public.

The draft amendment will remain open for public comment over the next month, and by 29 November, the consultation period will end. Should the government feel it’s right to proceed, the proposed legislation will then be ratified in Parliament.

Defining “physically disciplining your children”
Section 12 of the Children’s Amendment Bill is the part that’s coming under scrutiny. In a brand new addition to the document, lawmakers will seek to put their point in black and white; These are the unambiguous terms that aim to ban everything from a light spanking to actions far more sinister:

“Any person caring for a child, including a person who has parental responsibilities and rights in respect of a child, must not treat or punish the child in a cruel, inhuman or degrading way.” – Section 12A (1), Children’s Amendment Bill.

Any punishment, within the home or other environment, in which physical force or action is used and intended to cause some degree of pain or harm to the child is unlawful. – Section 12A (2), Children’s Amendment Bill.


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Will spanking be banned in South Africa?
It’s a discussion that rears its head frequently in South Africa, as the old-school methods of parenting clash with the more modern approaches.

However, things went up a notch 12 months ago. Last October, the South Gauteng High Court made a drastic decision on the dark arts of parenting, when it outlawed spanking as a use of “reasonable chastisement”.

It’s this term – “reasonable chastisement” – that has been deemed very difficult to interpret. One person’s tough love could be another’s merciless beating. So the Department of Social Development has tabled this matter to establish a blanket ban on physically disciplining your children.

Negative effects of physical discipline
The University of Texas compiled 50 years of data for their meta-research, and discovered those who were subjected to spankings experience increased anti-social behaviour, aggression, mental health problems and cognitive difficulties. They also suggest that those who were spanked become less compliant as they get older.


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