Sent: Friday, June 07, 2013
Subject: Corporal punishment
I am the director of Kids Haven, and I am responding to your request for responses regarding the issue of corporal punishment in families. I am completely for a ban on any form of corporal punishment.
South Africa has become an extremely violent country. Violence is condoned as a method of discipline and solving problems. We resort to violence to solve problems within the workplace, the public sector, civil society, and in the home. Children need to be loved unconditionally. Children are meant to be nurtured and cared for in the family in a safe environment, where they will learn values and morals and the principles of good behaviour. If they receive good parenting and their parents are good role models who provide protection, structure, guidance and attention, children will learn to be disciplined and have self-control, they will learn to be committed and work hard. They will learn kindness and compassion. If they are disciplined by non-violent means they will they will learn non-violent ways of resolving conflict. If children are not raised this way, and nobody intervenes, they do not learn these values.
Physical punishment is not effective in changing behaviour. Parents take out their anger and frustration on the child, but it does not teach the child the right way. Many children whose care givers use corporal punishment/physical violence as a form of discipline become more uncontrollable, anti-social behaviour increases. Sometimes these are the lucky ones, they still have some sense of self. However, the prognosis for acquiring socially acceptable behaviour is poor, even with therapeutic intervention. Other children react with fear, they suppress their feelings, leading to a variety of emotional dysfunction, all of which leads to self-destruction. Again, the prognosis for acquiring socially acceptable behaviour is poor, even with therapeutic intervention.
How will we change a violent society? Violence is a language, we have to understand what is driving it. The Constitution provides for social justice, people have rights, but their needs are not being met. Social change needs collective action at a national level, and on the ground in the family. Unfortunately we have normalised unacceptable behaviour by allowing it. It is a very hard thing for parents who have not been raised in a non-violent way to learn to nurture their children. By declaring a ban on corporal punishment in the family we would be creating the basic framework for change, within which obviously much further work needs to be done.
My organization therefore fully supports the ban on corporal punishment in any sector of society, including the family.
"Our vision is to rehabilitate children living on the streets and reintroduce them into society"