National campaign needed around corporal punishment, says Children’s Institute

The Constitutional Court ruled on Wednesday that the use of moderate and reasonable chastisement, which included spanking, was inconsistent with the Constitution.

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JOHANNESBURG - The Children’s Institute said the Social Development Department needed to drive a national campaign to raise awareness around corporal punishment in homes.

It's now illegal for a parent to spank their child. The Constitutional Court ruled on Wednesday that the use of moderate and reasonable chastisement, which included spanking, was inconsistent with the Constitution.

The institute at the University of Cape Town said it was pleased that the court acknowledged that reasonable chastisement was neither necessary nor justifiable.

It said South Africa needed to focus on the implementation of widespread interventions to support families at national level, to change attitudes and behaviours that involved harsh and violent ways to discipline children.

The institute said that the Social Development Department should implement programmes that had been shown to be effective in changing both individual attitudes and social norms around child discipline. This could teach caregivers about alternative, non-violent forms of discipline, the institute said.

It added the ruling was an opportunity for the Children’s Act to be further developed.