Hitting kids 'will be criminal'
News24.com (SA), September 7, 2006

Cape Town - Draft legislation now before parliament will criminalise parents for disciplining their children, the Freedom Front Plus charged on Wednesday.

"If the Children's Amendment Bill, which was tabled in the National Council of Provinces... is implemented, parents who give their children a hiding will in future be guilty of assault," FF Plus spokesman Willie Spies said.

He accused the government of wanting to "enforce its will on the private authority-relationship between parents and children".

"The FF Plus is thoroughly aware of the evils of cruelty and abuse of children which is increasingly being found, but to criminalise law-abiding parents who act responsibly in terms of their raising and disciplining their children, as the bill will be doing, is wrong medicine for this evil and is simply unacceptable," Spies said.

The draft bill scrapped the common-law disciplining authority of parents as justification for corporal punishment and other punishments.

"This means that a parent who is accused of assault on her child can no longer, as is at present the case, call on the disciplining authority of a parent."

An early version of the Children's Act, approved by parliament last year, had also contained far-reaching stipulations on applying corporal punishment within a family context.

However, these controversial clauses were removed after it became clear, from among others, a CSIR investigation that 57 percent of South African parents still used corporal punishment and would be criminalised, Spies said.

All corporal punishment of children, a.k.a., "spanking," is illegal in the following countries, which are listed with their respective dates of reform.
  • Sweden - 1979
  • Finland - 1983
  • Norway - 1987
  • Austria - 1989
  • Cyprus - 1994
  • Italy -1996
  • Denmark - 1997
  • Latvia - 1998
  • Croatia - 1999
  • Bulgaria - 2000
  • Germany - 2000
  • Israel - 2000
  • Iceland - 2003
  • Ukraine - 2004
  • Romania - 2004
  • Hungary - 2005

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