MIXED FEELINGS: Spanking your kids is contentious

I am of two minds about last week’s Constitutional Court matter around giving your child a spanking at home.

The constitutionality of corporal punishment at home is being considered, after last year’s High Court ruling outlawing any form of spanking at home.

Several groups have approached the court, arguing that even “reasonable chastisement” is a form of violence against children that only breeds further violence.

They presented statistics showing that children who are given hidings at home, act out against other children, grow up to be aggressive and suffer long-term emotional consequences.

One of the phrases that are being used as an alternative to hidings is “positive discipline”, which it is said, encourages self-discipline.

Now while I am in general agreement with the argument that children should not be abused and harmed, I’m not sure how I feel about a law instructing me how to parent.

The issue is we have such a vast difference in social conditions in our country.

In some cases, it would be impossible for a parent to send a child to their room, or to restrict their access to WiFi for a week, simply because these are privileges they don’t enjoy anyway.

The biggest issue is not a spanking as such, but rather whether that spanking is done with love or not.

I would agree that beating your child repeatedly out of anger is a form of abuse.

Giving your child a hiding, after you have warned them several times, is another story altogether.

Add to that a sit-down conversation around why the spanking happened, and it almost always has a desirable outcome.

Almost all the parents I know come from a household where one or both parents didn’t shy away from giving a hiding.

These are reasonable, well-informed and intelligent people, who credit their own upbringing for who they are.

They can appreciate the value in having gotten the occasional hiding and tell entertaining stories about getting “the look” from a parent, which quickly forced them to step in line.

Laws like these are well-intentioned and progressive.

But we are trying to enforce them in an unequal society.