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Letter: To spank or not to spank

By letters 020216 Time of article published Feb 2, 2016

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Corporal punishment should not be applied at the end of an intolerance curve, writes Charl van Wyk.

The SA Human Rights Commission has found a parenting manual by the Joshua Generation Church, that promotes corporal punishment, to be in violation of the constitution.

It is interesting to hear the words selectively chosen to be used by those advocating a ban on corporal punishment. Words of aggression like hitting, beating, violence, hidings…

Propagandists have created the impression that spanking is some medieval practice, which an enlightened society should abolish.

Many judge others by their own experience. They have possibly, or at least been tempted to, “hit” their children when they were frustrated or angry. They assume that all spanking is given with the same hostility they have felt. If they have never experienced loving discipline applied for the child’s own good, then how could they understand it?

By common law it is illegal to beat your child to inflict physical injury. But with banning all spanking, are we not throwing the baby out with the bath water?

Spanking a child to train them in the way they should act and live, should never be equated with violence against a child. If violence is inflicted upon a child, then the law must take its course and justice must be done.

Webster’s dictionary defines violence as: physical force or activity used to cause harm, damage and abuse. Violence is thus the unjustified, immoral use of force. Surely this is not what most parents are doing in spanking their loved ones.

Spanking should not be punishment. It is rather chastisement. It should be referred to as training. It should not be applied in anger. One should not lose control.

Read: Church fights to spank children

A defence of chastisement should not be seen as a defence of all those who abuse this means of training. Spanking should not be used as a vent for parents’ anger.

There is no place for vindictiveness or aggression in training children. Spanking should not be applied at the end of an intolerance curve. Where the supreme motivation is anything other than the child’s good, spanking should not be used.

Opponents of spanking support their position by pointing to its occasional misuse. All authority is misused from time to time, but that misuse does not negate the legitimacy of the office itself, rather of the ones who abuse their authority. When the courts are unjust or dishonest, we do not abolish the office of judge or the administration of law.

When a policeman is corrupted by money, or a desire for power, we do not fire all the policemen. When African presidents are immoral and sell favours, enriching themselves through crooked deals, we do not abolish the office of president.

We should seek out the offenders and punish them according to their culpability. Likewise when some parents misuse corporal punishment, we do not abdicate the means.

If children persist in being unruly, some “experts” will probably tell us to drug them out of their minds. Some parents resort to screaming, shouting and verbal abuse. These means will probably damage our children psychologically, spiritually and emotionally for years to come.

No wonder our teachers no longer teach, but have resorted to crowd control and lecturing.

Spanking is outlawed in schools – let’s not now make our homes as chaotic as our schools.

Maybe the SA Human Rights Commission should rather work on outlawing wife beatings in South Africa!

Charl van Wyk


* The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

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