Parents should find alternative measures to discipline their children other than corporal punishment, as this results in mental abuse and does not create solutions.
That is the message from the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural‚ Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL Commission).
“Children thrive in discipline and they do much better in an environment where discipline is consistent, where they are made to understand what is right and what is wrong,” CRL Commission chairwoman Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva said.
“I and many others do not condone the physical abuse of children on whatever grounds.”
Speaking at a panel discussion on the theme, “Alternatives to Corporal Punishment”, at the commission’s head office in Johannesburg yesterday‚ she said communities should seek to protect children instead of creating more problems which may have a negative mental effect on them.
“We have stood up against the abuse of children within cultural and religious communities when there was a need to do so and we have taken very unpopular decisions in our quest to protect children. It is in the best interest of a child to have competent parents who are confident in raising them.”
Mkhwanazi-Xaluva said parents‚ extended families‚ religious and cultural communities needed to punish children within the confines of the law.
However‚ Contralesa Gauteng provincial chairman Tabane Manene said the government had failed to provide alternative measures for parents in rural areas to discipline their children.
“As much as they understand that the stance of the government wants to protect children from being abused by the parents and those taking care of the children‚ the government has not provided an alternative that will equate the punishment or a discipline given to the children as a form of upbringing‚” Manene said.
He asked, for example, what should be done if parents had exhausted every option at their disposal but the child’s behaviour did not change.
He said courts could not dictate to society how they should raise their children.
This follows a South Gauteng High Court ruling that the common law defence of “reasonable chastisement” was unconstitutional.