n South African Journal of Education - Corporal punishment in South African schools : a neglected explanation for its existence

Volume 21, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 0256-0100
  • E-ISSN: 2076-3433



The South African education system historically has used corporalpunishment to maintain discipline. Criticism of its effects led, in 1996,to the banning of this form of punishment. But this legislative interventiondid not end the use of corporal punishment in schools. Thisarticle offers an explanation for the ongoing use of corporal punishment.It is based on a survey of 16 Durban schools in September andOctober 1998. Corporal punishment has effectively disappeared frommiddle-class, formerly white, schools, but is still relatively common intownship schools. Reasons for the persistent and illegal use of corporalpunishment include the absence of alternatives, the legacy of authoritarianeducation practices and the belief that corporal punishment isnecessary for orderly education to take place. A neglected explanationis that corporal punishment persists because parents use it in the homeand support its use in school. There is a tension between the prohibitionof corporal punishment in schools and the increase in parent involvementin the affairs of schools.

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