24/10/2017 10:35 SAST | Updated 24/10/2017 12:05 SAST

'My Child, My Choice': Spanking Shouldn't Be Illegal, Say Respondents

Nearly 70% of HuffPost respondents in a snap poll said they disagree with the court ruling on spanking.

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Following a controversial court ruling on Thursday, stern disagreement over whether parents should be allowed to "spank" their children has ensued between outspoken groups.

The South Gauteng High Court judgment closed loopholes used in the past as a defence for parents accused of assaulting their children as punishment. Parents who hit their children will now no longer be able to raise that special defence if charged.

Freedom of Religion SA in court argued in favour of "reasonable chastisement", saying parental discipline is crucial.

Parental discipline is an important part of parents' duty to ensure their children are brought up as responsible human beings with a sense of right and wrong, and that it is therefore ultimately for the child's good and in his/her best interestFreedom of Religion SA

It also said it argued in favour on the basis that "millions of Christians (and persons of other faith groups) believe that the scriptures permit (if not command) reasonable and appropriate correction of their children".

Sonke Gender Justice, meanwhile, said the ruling was a "victory for child rights and violence prevention". The organisation in a press release last week said a "large body of research shows a strong association between men's use of violence and their exposure to harsh physical punishment as children". Endorsing the ruling, it also said it promises to "reduce multiple forms of violence".

HuffPost SA this week asked readers if they agreed with the court ruling and the reasons for their choice. Out of approximately 600 respondents to the snap poll, 69 percent said they disagreed with the ruling, 22 percent said they agreed, and 9 percent said they were unsure.

After saying they disagreed with the law, some readers implied the ruling went too far and didn't account for the "difference between a spank and abuse". Others implied it was judicial "overreach".

Others, who agreed with the ruling, said there were other ways to effectively discipline children that do not require hitting or spanking: Some respondents, also endorsing the ruling, expressed the view that spanking is either violent itself or can become a "slippery slope" towards violence.
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