The Constitutional Court of South Africa (ConCourt) has ruled that the common defence of “reasonable and moderate parental chastisement” of children is now unconstitutional. The unanimous judgement was handed down on Wednesday, September 18, when the court ruled there are other more reasonable ways to discipline children.

The judgment has not labelled it as a new offence, as hitting a child has always been categorised as assault under South African law. Previously, a parent who smacked their child was able to raise a special defence of reasonable chastisement while pleading in court.

In one Tweet, a parent said:

Parents had the opportunity to be acquitted of assault if the chastisement in question is deemed moderate and reasonable.

Wednesday’s ruling follows a 2017 High Court judgement which deemed all forms of physical correction of children by their parents as unlawful. The appeal was brought forth by Freedom of Religion South Africa (For SA), who made the argument that the judgement would turn all well-meaning parents into criminals.

Another parent said:

“Any person caring for a child, including a person who has parental responsibilities and rights in respect of a child, must not treat or punish the child in a cruel, inhuman or degrading way. Any punishment, within the home or other environment, in which physical force or action is used and intended to cause some degree of pain or harm to the child is unlawful,” Section 12A (1) of the Children’s Amendment Bill reads.

This is what other parents had to say:

Many parents, however, have complained that “reasonable chastisement” is difficult to intepret as one parent’s tough love may be considered another’s beating. The Department of Social Development will table the matter to establish a full ban on physically disclipining children.

Picture: Pixabay

Article written by

Lucinda Dordley

Lucinda is a hard news writer who occasionally dabbles in lifestyle writing, and recent journalism graduate. She is a proud intersectional feminist, and is passionate about actively creating a world which is free of discrimination and inequality.