African Christian Democratic Party
27 January 2016
ACDP Parliament
Media Statement

Cheryllyn Dudley, MP & Whip

ACDP says attempts to equate abuse and violence with reasonable chastisement or a spanking are disingenuous

  • criminalising spanking does not achieve desired outcome and diverts resources away from where they are most needed

The African Christian Democratic Party has worked for many years to protect and defend children – their well-being, their right to be free from maltreatment, neglect, abuse and degradation, their right to a life, a home and a loving family and their right to loving and effective discipline. The ACDP values family and the important role it plays in society. The ACDP also values unity and diversity and is committed to protecting freedom of religion and belief.

The ACDP therefore takes issue with a report by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) on 22 January 2016 that has found spanking in the home, to be a violation of children’s and other constitutional rights. On this finding they recommended that:

  • Joshua Generation Church (“JoshGen”), a respected Christian Church, should give a written undertaking that they will desist from “advocating” corporal punishment in the home;
  • JoshGen will remove all references to physical chastisement from training material;
  • JoshGen pastors go for “sensitization training”; and
  • Parliament amend the Children’s Act, so as to criminalise spanking of children.

ACDP MP Cheryllyn Dudley said today that, “The ACDP is of the opinion that freedom of religion and belief which is constitutionally protected, includes a person’s right to express their views and beliefs and to act in line with them provided they do not infringe on the rights of others.  Church and State are recognized as separate for this very reason – neither the government, nor institutions of State, have an unrestricted right with regard to churches or individuals and should not presume to decide what people can and can’t believe and teach”.

“It is very likely that the view of the vast majority of South African parents is that moderate physical chastisement is effective in achieving beneficial discipline. Minority views like those of the SAHRC are also important and people who share this view, must also have the freedom to choose what is best for themselves and their family and what they believe.”

Dudley further said, “Constant attempts to equate abuse and violence with reasonable chastisement or a spanking, are misguided and frankly disingenuous. Abolishing the defense of reasonable chastisement and turning a majority of loving parents into criminals, divert attention and already constrained budgets away from addressing the very real problem of abuse and violence against children in South Africa. In SA we have laws to deal with abuse and violence which must be implemented – any extra strain on the scarce resources, both skills and finances is unthinkable”.

“Parliament, the representatives of the people, considered this issue thoroughly over many years and concluded that it would not serve the desired purpose for reasonable chastisement to be abolished.  South Africa and indeed much of the world is suffering the consequences in violent and callous societies where children have not been disciplined or taught respect and consideration of others.”

The ACDP agrees with Adv Nadene Badenhorst, Counsel for Freedom of Religion South Africa (FOR SA), that for the SAHRC to dictate to parents how they should raise their children, or what can and can’t be taught in their church, violates a child’s right to loving discipline and a parent’s right to guide their family and to make decisions and choices in line with their beliefs.

-ENDS-

For more information contact Cheryllyn Dudley, MP, 082-890-6520 (SMS best for urgent response)
Media enquiries: Keeno Petersen, Media Liaison Officer, ACDP – Parliament, Tel: 021-403-3307 or Cell: 076-734-9067 or Email: kpetersen@parliament.gov.za

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