Children's Amendment Bill Would Turn Parents into Criminals Overnight - 27 August 2007

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As deliberations on the Children’s Amendment Bill begin in Parliament tomorrow, the Christian Action Network has called for the clause banning the spanking of children by parents to be scrapped.

“This Bill would turn law-abiding, diligent parents into criminals overnight. An outright ban on smacking could not be consistently enforced. It would waste police time on trivial incidents while genuine cases of child abuse go unchecked,” says International Co-ordinator of the Christian Action Network, Taryn Hodgson.

“A ban is not necessary. An ordinary spank is not child abuse. Most parents spank their children at some point. Does Parliament believe they are all child abusers? Nor does spanking teach children that violence is the answer. Most people were spanked as a child and are now perfectly peaceful citizens.

“Before this bill, “unreasonable chastisement” was outlawed and this protected children from abuse. However, to specifically outlaw ‘reasonable chastisement’ is to force parents to neglect their Biblical and civic duty to discipline their children.

“To say children should have the same rights under the law as adults is an absurd oversimplification. There are many differences in law for children. For obvious reasons children are not allowed to drink alcohol, purchase cigarettes, drive, marry, vote or own a firearm licence. No one claims 'inequality' on these issues.

“A vocal minority is calling for a total ban on all forms of physical punishment. This minority includes well-organised children’s charities and child-rights groups. They say that all smacking is child abuse. Most people disagree. Most reasonable people see there is a world of difference between abuse and loving discipline.

“Abortion is the child abuse as it kills a pre-born child. Loving discipline of a child prevents abuse and can save lives.

“Mothers bear the burden of looking after young children. New laws on physical punishment will therefore target mothers as they struggle to raise their children. Children could convict their parents of assault just for spanking them.

“Of course, it is never right for a parent to spank when they have lost their temper. Nor should a parent discipline a child for being a child, it would be indefensible to smack a child who simply made a child’s mistake. And parents should never have inappropriate expectations or put impossible demands on their children. All this represents bad parenting. But banning all smacking is unnecessary and frankly unworkable.

Child abuse is already illegal.

“Social workers and the police certainly have their work cut out keeping up with the number of cases, but the law-makers have failed to explain how there are problems with the existing law. Indeed this has not even been attempted.

“The existing law is firm enough and fair enough to protect children.”

The Christian Action Network’s recommendation is: remove the ban on corporal punishment from section 139 of the Bill and leave the existing law as it is.

CONTACT: International Co-ordinator of the Christian Action Network, Taryn Hodgson on 072 215 4801 or 021-689 4480, E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Christian Action P.O.Box 23632 Claremont 7735 Cape Town South Africa [email protected] - 021-689-4481 - www.christianaction.org.za
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