Sonke Gender Justice calls on parents and caregivers to cease spanking during child protection month (June)

It takes 28 days to change a habit – use Child Protection Month to improve your parenting habits!

‘I never spanked my child, even though everyone around me was doing it. Today she is an adult, and tells me that it helped her to grow into a responsible and caring person.’
— Mbuyiselo Botha – Father, grandfather and activist

Physical punishment of children is contrary to our own constitution, and to several international treaties that we have signed as a country. Quality research studies from Africa and the rest of the world have proven that there are much better ways to discipline children that do not depend on using physical punishment or spanking. They have also shown that even the so-called ‘little slaps’ can be harmful in the long-term, impacting on children’s social and emotional development.

Parents usually don’t like spanking their children, but they don’t know what else to do. The starting point for positive discipline is for parents to think about the long-term goals for children, rather than the short-term goals.

‘So while it’s urgent for her to put on her school jersey right now, you also want to remember that you want her to grow up as a caring person one day. Take a deep breath, calm down and tell her why it’s important to keep warm. And remember that children copy everything adults do, so if you want to teach her a lesson, she’ll copy that and want to teach you a lesson!’
— Wessel van den Berg – Kindergarten teacher and parent.

Using positive discipline is also a smart way to prevent violence in the long term, since children grow up learning that problems are not solved through violence, but through thinking and negotiating.

Sonke is calling on all parents and caregivers in South Africa to avoid spanking for one week, and then to decide about the best method to manage their children’s behaviour.

In 2015 the Children’s Act is due to be amended. Sonke and the Working Group on Positive Discipline are advocating for the use of positive discipline and the prohibition of physical punishment in home. This will not criminalise parents, since the removal of the parent from the child’s environment is obviously not in the best interest of the child. It will rather encourage healthy and caring relationships between parents and children.


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