When do parents go too far? Are South African parents still allowed to chastise their children through corporal punishment in their private homes?

23 Jul 2007

With the commencement of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa 1996, the focus of the private law has increasingly shifted from parents to children. This has not only been the case under South African law but also according to International Law. According to this new legal paradigm, many calls have been made to abolish all forms of corporal punishment by parents of their children. There seems to be wide consensus that the common law authority of reasonable and moderate chastisement has become irreconcilable within a modern value orientated constitutional dispensation. Notwithstanding the fact that political powers are undecided on whether to prohibit all forms of corporal punishment on children and that society is not informed or trained on alternative educational measures, it is submitted that the application of corporal chastisement, even in the private family environment, has become unconstitutional. Such a form of punishment should thus be declared invalid and relegated to a relic of our legal past.