Over many years, Sweden had campaigns about the negative impact of physical and emotional punishment on children.

The government is planning to make it illegal for parents to smack their children.

Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini revealed this week that her department intended proposing legislation to “address” parental corporal punishment.

Director of the Family Planning Institute Errol Naidoo said a ban would be a “recipe for disaster” in a country that “lacked discipline” in all sectors of society – from “government to schools”.

Legal experts, however, said SA was legally bound to ban corporal punishment in homes by virtue of being a signatory to several conventions which consider it violence against children.

Naidoo said his organisation would vehemently oppose the legislation.

“Government has a role to play, but not by imposing on the rights of parental authority over children. Interfering in the relationship between children and parents will lead to social problems.”

He said that while “abuse is abuse”, even if the government’s intentions were honourable, “parental discipline is something else”.

 

Dlamini was responding to a question from DA MP Juanita Terblanche this week. She said the department intended proposing the legislation in the 2014/15 financial year.

Agnes Muller, an official in the department’s child directorate, said it did not have a position on corporal punishment yet, but was in the process of drafting a discussion document bringing together legal, medical, religious, psychological and psychiatric opinion on the issue.

Workshops and consultation with all sectors would also take place, she said.