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Do Not Harm Our Children - say South Africans.

Hitting children, (corporal punishment) is not part of Christianity, says The South African Council of Churches.  They have taken a stand and embarked on a campaign to promote respect for children and the use of positive discipline, instead of striking children or humiliating and embarrassing them. 

South Africa is a country with a great deal of violence and people sort out their problems and arguments violently.  By slapping, striking, burning, cutting, or shaking a child or any other form of physical abuse against children, we give the idea from an early age that violence is the right response to bad behaviour.

South African organisations have joined Save the Children Sweden to promote rights of children. They say evidence show that any form of violence does not work. Hitting (corporal punishment) only teaches kids that in order to solve a problem, powerful or stronger people can harm weaker or smaller people.

One child in Western Cape told Daily Sun, “Sometimes my mommy and daddy hit me, sometimes with their hand or sometimes with a belt.”

Corporal punishment is against the law in South African schools since 1996. The Constitutional Court has considered school corporal punishment and taken a decision that it is against the South African Constitution. United Nations and the African Union have put together standards for the respect of people’s basic human rights.

Yet in many schools’ pupils are still hit by teachers. A study by the Centre from Justice and Crime Prevention has noted seventy percent of primary school kids and nearly half the secondary school learners’ experience corporal punishment. Many parents still believe teachers should punish their kids by hitting them. It is important for the Department of Education to provide teachers with means to discipline children in a disciplined way.

Another way of abuse kids is to shame them, making them feel worthless or swearing, ignoring them or neglecting them. “My mom shouted at me. She said I always look untidy at school and I must look at other children. She also swears when she talks and calls me names,” said a girl.

Sexual abuse damages children, often beyond repair and it is widespread towards boys and girls of all ages.

Many children behave badly because they have problems for example hunger, thirst, lack of rest due to having to walk long distances to school, stressful or abusive family situations, caring for a sick parent or taking care of their brothers and sisters due to the death of parents from HIV/AIDS or medical problems. By using a ‘quick fix’ such as beating,(corporal punishment) and other forms of humiliating punishment, an adult might miss the chance to deal with the actual problem the child faces. This might lead to a situation where children’s rights to food, health care, and education are withdrawn.  Thus, children then often take drugs, do crime, or become violent.

Children are bearers of human rights from the moment of their birth, and they are entitled to respect in the same way as adults. Children are human beings that are simply smaller and more fragile than adults are.

Corporal punishment and other forms of humiliating and degrading punishment breach children’s rights in the South African Constitution.

Medical education and psychologists reports prove the bad effects of corporal punishment of children.

But, a survey among children in South Africa indicated that the corporal punishment of children in school causes children to be aggressive and to bully other children.

“I beat the children because I was angry,” said a boy in the Western Cape. 

“This shows that punishing kids by hitting does not get naughty kids to change their behaviour and it does not teach them how to behave towards other children.

“There is proof that corporal punishment places children at risk of injury, poor mental health, poor relationships with parents, gives them weak morals and makes it difficult to behave as adults,” says a psychologist.



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