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.
Do you agree with the court ruling making it illegal to spank your own child? Tell us why below the poll or DM us. https://t.co/QYid22uoYr— HuffPost SouthAfrica (@HuffPostSA) October 23, 2017
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".
So ill call the court to come and dicipline my child. There is a huge difference btwn spank and abuse.— N@tz (@nataliebarry9) October 23, 2017
I can count on my hand how many times I've had to spank my kids. This law means nothing, no proper research has gone into it...as normal.— gary bloom (@flatfourfan) October 23, 2017
I was spanked as a child and I deserved each one. My Dad never abused me, but taught me what was right.— ObNox69 (@Obnox70) October 23, 2017
Bullshit! We all got a lekke spanking when we didn't listen, there was more respect in schools and for parents then, than there is now!— Zelna Olwagen (@ZelnaOlwagen) October 23, 2017
There's a difference between giving a spanking and physically beating a child.Some parents don't know the difference. BUT there is one.— Mari Gelden (@mari_gelden) October 23, 2017
Others, who agreed with the ruling, said there were other ways to effectively discipline children that do not require hitting or spanking:
Who gives you the right to beat a child? It's barbaric. If you can't discipline your child in a civilised manner, you're not fit to have one— Shawn Kriedemann (@Shawnie5001) October 23, 2017
Beating kids has nothing to do with disciplining them it's simply lazy parenting.— Ohandthekitchensink (@Ohandthesink) October 23, 2017
Some respondents, also endorsing the ruling, expressed the view that spanking is either violent itself or can become a "slippery slope" towards violence.
Yes I agree. There is NO evidence that assault makes people behave well.— Lindani (@KhuhlaseKhondlo) October 23, 2017
The % of "no" votes says a lot about how people view violence in this country. It's shocking.— The Thinking Ape (@naomi_rsa) October 23, 2017
As a child, my father believed he could beat the femininity out of his transgender child. This was nothing more than cruel abuse. I agree!— 🐰Jua van Zyl🐰 (@JuavanZyl) October 23, 2017
Besides, if you teach respect through violnec rather than logical reasoning, you don't deserve respect. Abuse is abuse.— The Thinking Ape (@naomi_rsa) October 23, 2017
What do you think? If you have a view that you believe hasn't been heard and that you would like to defend, email firstname.lastname@example.org for information on how you can apply to write for HuffPost SA.