Hands Off My Children! Stop SA Government from Banning Spanking
The Silent Majority
We were the only organization present that supports the right of parents to spank their children! However, Pearl reports that several individuals came up to her afterwards and said they supported our views, even though in their official capacity they are required to advocate for a ban on corporal punishment.
Will Parents be Jailed?
The government proposes to change the law on corporal punishment. Will ordinary parents risk jail for spanking their own children? Given what has already happened to some parents under existing anti-smacking laws in Sweden and Scotland we do not think that this prospect is far fetched.
The government says that they want to stop “cruel and degrading treatment” of children and claims that non-abusive parents who spank their children will not be jailed. This sounds good on the surface, but the problem is that many social workers and childcare “experts” openly believe that ordinary smacking (or spanking) and “harmful and degrading treatment” are one and the same thing. They will be the people who implement the new law. They will be the ones investigating parents. They will be the ones reporting cases to the police. They will be the ones giving evidence in court. This is cause for concern.
What are the real causes of child abuse?
There are many factors that make children vulnerable to child abuse in South Africa, some of which have been unleashed by the SA government’s own ill-conceived and counter-productive laws.
Abortion is the Ultimate Child Abuse
The proposed spanking ban from children’s rights groups – touted to reduce child abuse – is ironic in the light of fact that abortion is the worst form of child abuse – it kills an innocent and defenceless baby and leaves the mother emotionally and sometimes physically wounded. So according to such advocates, a parent can kill their child but not discipline them!
The Exploitative Pornography Industry
We all agree that child pornography is a heinous crime, but it is adult pornography that helps to fuel the prevalence of child pornography and it is often the addicts of pornography who abuse children.
Aggravating Child Abuse
The flood of sexualized media on television and billboards, and the immoral, explicit sex education taught in schools that teaches children the mechanics of sex, should also be considered child abuse. The evolution brainwashing: “you came from nothing, you are going nowhere, life is meaningless” and situation ethics taught in schools, could equally be considered child abuse.
Fuelling Child Abuse
Other major contributing factors to child abuse that have been detailed in two UNICEF Research Reports include drug and alcohol abuse, family breakdown, and children not living with biological parents.
Interestingly, in the 2007 “An Overview of Child Well-Being in Rich Countries” UNICEF report, of the 10 top countries that were deemed safest and promoted the highest level of well-being for children, six had not banned smacking. The safest country in the report (the Netherlands) had not banned smacking. In other words, to try and suggest that a smack is child abuse, is simply not true, and is an insult to good parents.
Responding to Critics
In our updated submission sent to the Child Care Forum, we cite an example of a Scottish father who was jailed for spanking his daughter. He overreacted but was not abusive. This arrest caused more trauma to the children than the spanking. We also provide responses to 10 common arguments given by anti-spanking supporters.
Existing Law is Firm Enough
“Unreasonable chastisement” is currently against the law and this is firm enough to execute justice against genuine child abusers. However, to specifically outlaw “reasonable chastisement” is to force parents to neglect their Biblical and civic duty to discipline their children.
Misdirecting Limited Police Resources
An outright ban on smacking could not be consistently enforced. It would waste police time on trivial incidents, while genuine cases of child abuse go unchecked.
Biblical Discipline of Children
The rod is the family’s symbol of authority: “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die. Punish him with the rod and save his soul from death.” Proverbs 23:13-14. Of course, the rod is not the only instrument of discipline available to parents (others are verbal instruction and correction, denial, withdrawal and disinheritance). As the parents discipline their children by using suitable methods, including the rod, they are performing an important role within society in building character and thus preventing delinquency and immorality.
In the first instance, the fear of God ought to restrain parents from abusing their position. “See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in Heaven always see the face of My Father in Heaven.” Matthew 18:10
Biblically, the state’s legitimate interference in the family is limited to when parents commit crimes against children, or children commit crimes, including against their parents (Deuteronomy 21:18-21).
“He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.” Proverbs 13:24
“Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.” Proverbs 22:15
“The rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a child left to himself disgraces his mother.” Proverbs 29:15
What You Can Do:
- Write a letter to your local newspaper, favourite magazine or phone your local radio station and voice your concerns about this threat to your family. This is an opportunity to educate the public on Biblical methods of discipline.
For practical advice for parents on discipline, see the following articles from Focus on the Family:
Reforming Our Families (118 pages, R58) – Lenora Hammond.
Africa Christian Action
PO Box 23632
7735 Cape Town
Tel: 021-689 4481
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