Johannesburg - Corporal punishment is a violation of children's rights, the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) said on Thursday.
“South Africa abolished corporal punishment in September 1997, and 16 years later corporal punishment is being applied by some educators,” SAHRC chairman Lawrence Mushwana said.
Corporal punishment involves using force to inflict pain and discomfort on a child.
Speaking at a SAHRC'S conference in Johannesburg on ending corporal punishment in schools, Mushwana said its abolishment was in line with international practice.
“It is therefore of grave concern that there are still schools that administer corporal punishment. Corporal punishment must be ended as it violates the learners' right to education and dignity.”
He said action taken against those who applied corporal punishment was disproportionate to the damage done to children.
This message was echoed by SAHRC commissioner Lindiwe Mokate, who said figures from 2012 indicated that 2.2 million children were subjected to corporal punishment in South Africa.
“That just tells you the extent of corporal punishment in our country,” she said.
“This practice limits the enjoyment of a number of constitutional rights.”
She said major concerns included the severity of beatings, the large number of incidents, the reporting of corporal punishment, and the effectiveness of disciplinary measures against perpetrators.
While government, education departments, trade unions, and principals had all tried to tackle the problem, they had not acted together.
“They were not acting in concert with each other,” said Mokate.
This meant their actions against corporal punishment were limited and “scattered”.