South Africa May Outlaw Spanking at Home

Corporal punishment by parents would be deemed a form of assault

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If the Children’s Rights Project has its way, it will soon be illegal to spank your child in South Africa. The non-govermental organization, which is based at the University of the Western Cape, is working with South Africa’s government to draft a bill that, if passed, would outlaw corporal punishment in the home. This is the second bid by the Children’s Rights Project to get spanking prohibited. An initial attempt failed in 2007 following opposition by cultural, religious and civil society groups.

“If a husband beats a wife it’s a crime, but if a parents hits a child who is helpless, it’s not illegal,” Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini told the Sunday Times. Under the draft law, parents would be charged with assault if, at home, they used a flat hand on a child’s bottom or enacted other forms of corporal punishment.

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Critics oppose the law on the grounds that any move to ban spanking in the home could have the effect of turning “law-abiding, diligent parents into criminals overnight.” Focus On The Family, a global Christian group, opposes the proposal, but noted to The Times that for most children, “the removal of pleasures or privileges is actually more painful than a spanking.”

If South Africa did pass this law, it would join countries including Finland, Germany, Kenya, Poland, Sweden and Uruguay that ban corporal punishment in the home. Corporal punishment has been outlawed at South African school since 2006.

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