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'Parents should be able to discipline kids without interference from state'

For SA says it’s not asking the apex court to rule on spanking or corporal punishment but on the rights of parents to use moderate physical correction to discipline their children.

Picture: Pixabay.com

JOHANNESBURG – Freedom of Religion South Africa (For SA) says parents should be given the right to discipline their children without the interference of the state.

The Constitutional Court is hearing an appeal by the group against a judgment by the High Court in Johannesburg which last year effectively declared all forms of physical correction of children by their parents unlawful.

The judgment followed an appeal by a father who had been found guilty of assault after he beat his 13-year-old son in a manner that exceeded the bounds of reasonable chastisement.

Now, For SA says it’s not asking the apex court to rule on spanking or corporal punishment but on the rights of parents to use moderate physical correction to discipline their children.

Advocate R Willis said: “We say that a reasonable amount of chastisement is mischaracterised when it is described as corporal punishment. We submit that reasonable and moderate chastisement is exactly that.”

The State argues that the use of any form of physical force to discipline a child infringes on their rights to dignity as well as protection against abuse.

The Departments of Justice and Social Development have argued children are a vulnerable group that needs unlimited protection.

The State's advocate Ngwako Maenetje says given South Africa’s history of violence against women and children, stronger laws are required to protect the most vulnerable in society.

“These rights must be construed in a manner that promotes the values that underlie an open and democratic society based on human dignity, equality and freedom.”

Maenetje says positive parenting can secure good behaviour without using physical force.