The Parent Centre welcomes the ruling last week by the Gauteng High Court that the defence of reasonable chastisement previously afforded to parents was not in line with the Constitution and no longer applied in law. We are against any form of violence against children, including physical punishment that parents use to discipline children. We have no doubt that it is possible to raise respectful, co-operative and successful children without spanking or hurting them. At the Parent Centre we offer the support and training that parents need in order to create a healthy non-violent environment for children.
The judgment did not create a new offence. Hitting a child, whether your own or someone else’s, has always been assault under the country’s criminal law.
However, in the past a parent who smacked or spanked a child had special defence of reasonable chastisement to plead. They stood to be acquitted of assault if they could prove that the chastisement was moderate and reasonable.
The judge was very clear that she didn’t intend for parents to end up in jail, but instead for parents to find alternative methods of discipline and for the state to help and refer parents to appropriate intervention systems.
At The Parent Centre we offer a number of such interventions including Parent-Infant home visits; Positive Parenting Skills Training; Teen Parenting Training; Fatherhood Training and Parent Support Groups. “Our main objective is to ensure the safety and healthy development of South African children,’ says Venecia Barries, Director of The Parent Centre. ‘With the recent spate of child murders and family abuse coming to the fore, we are even more convinced of the need for support and positive parenting training for parents. A culture of violence is so entrenched in South Africa. We can break this by starting in the home, with parents’ role modelling empathy, non-violent assertiveness and problem-solving”.
We have two Positive Parenting Skills workshops coming up and Fatherhood Training in the next few weeks, for more information visit our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/parentcentre/