Tuesday, 03 June 2014

 Media Statement

Pretoria, 3 June 2014 – Deliberations by human rights lawyers during the conference on corporal punishment hosted by the South African Human Rights Commission have revealed that unlawful corporal punishment in schools continues to take place and, while such punishment has little to do with instilling discipline in children, it is ‘taking on a sadistic, abusive nature’ according to The Star newspaper on June 3.

Corporal punishment is outlawed in public life – that is, in schools, alternative care settings, including foster care settings and early childhood development centres – in order to prevent cruel, inhumane and degrading punishment of children by their teachers and caregivers.

Minister of Social Development, Ms Bathabile Dlamini, says government took the decision to illegalise corporal punishment to protect children’s rights as well as break the cycle of violence in South African society.

“Children are impressionable and when those in positions of authority use violent means to encourage discipline, the children understand this as saying violence is permissible when trying to persuade others to act in a certain way.  This is why we are going to forge ahead with banning corporal punishment even in the home environment,” said Minister Dlamini.

Section 12 of the Constitution guarantees the right of all people, including children, to be free from all forms of violence from either public or private sources, not to be tortured in any way, and not to be treated or punished in a cruel, inhuman or degrading way.  Section 28(1)(d) specifically protects all children from maltreatment, neglect, abuse or degradation.

Section 7 of the Children’s Act provides that the protection of the child from any physical or psychological harm must be considered when the best interest of the child standard is applied.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), an international treaty to which South Africa is signatory, declares that “States Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child” (Article 19).

Minister Dlamini, says the rights of children must be considered in full and that children must be protected from violent behaviour in all sectors of life.

“The rights on the protection of children must be applied uniformly across all areas of life.  That we see media reports on children being subjected to cruelty and inhumane behaviour by their parents through corporal punishment is an indication that protection of children in the home environment needs to be addressed,” explained Minister Dlamini.

Minister Dlamini further states that the Department of Social Development recognises that discipline cannot be removed in the home.  However, alternative forms of discipline that do not include violence must be given prominence.

“While the law we propose would be a positive development in caring for our children in that it will raise awareness about what abuse is and how negative corporal punishment is and can be to a child’s development, we also need to help parents find more positive alternative forms of discipline,” said Minister Dlamini.

Through numerous advocacy and awareness-raising campaigns, the Department of Social Development has promoted the use of positive discipline rather than corporal punishment. For example, the 2012 Child Protection Week campaign was dedicated to positive discipline, and positive-discipline components are incorporated in the Department’s parenting and community capacitation programmes.

South Africa this week commemorates Child Protection Week – an annual campaign that aims to promote the safety, well-being, care and protection of children.

Through Child Protection Week (1 – 8 June), government and its partners raise awareness, as well as mobilise all sectors and communities towards understanding the perspective of holistic development regarding the care and protection of children.



Media inquiries to Lumka Oliphant – 083 484 8067 or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it