n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - Hitting the headlines - the veil on corporal punishment in South Africa lifted

Volume 17, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1012-8093



Evidence strongly suggests that corporal punishment in the early years, as well as when it extends into adolescence, is a major cause of negative behaviour. This includes the physical abuse of children, the physical abuse of a spouse and other adults, and masochistic sex, while depression and alienation can also be related to corporal punishment. Despite the fact that corporal punishment has been banned in South Africa in 1996, not all schools in South Africa abide by this ban. Professionals agree that corporal punishment is still being practised throughout South Africa. Apparently it is the younger and most vulnerable part of the school population in particular that literally receive the short end of the stick. Rural school populations in particular can be regarded as high-risk populations in terms of falling prey to this particular crime.

Ways in which learners are currently disciplined are not aimed at building self-discipline and do not suggest an attempt at improving the underlying problem of an inadequate configuration of relationships. Our current research shows that late-coming proved to be the biggest general trouble-provoking factor, followed closely by noisiness and smoking. Learners echo parents' need for corporal punishment to 'discipline' their children, and show little awareness that corporal punishment is, in fact, illegal. We hope that our findings exert pressure on schools to eliminate some of their more ritualized and pedagogically counterproductive practices, including corporal punishment.

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