The DSD recently issued the Children’s Third Amendment Bill, which aims to make any form of physical discipline by a parent – no matter how light or well-intentioned – illegal and potentially subject to criminal prosecution for assaulting a child, to which there will be no defence in law. The public is invited to submit written comments on the Bill by 7 September. Comments can be emailed to Ms. Sarah Mabasa at SarahMaf@dsd.gov.za
The Department of Social Development (DSD) recently issued the Children’s Third Amendment Bill (“the Bill”), which proposes a number of amendments to the Children’s Act, 2005. A copy of the Bill can be viewed here.
Most notably, from a parental rights and freedom of religion perspective, section 8 of the Bill proposes that “positive discipline” (which is not defined in the Bill) be the only legally acceptable form of child correction. It specifically proposes that corporal punishment in the home be prohibited and the common law defence of reasonable chastisement be abolished.
In plain language, the Bill aims to make any form of physical discipline by a parent – no matter how light or well-intentioned – illegal and potentially subject to criminal prosecution for assaulting a child, to which there will be no defence in law.
FOR SA therefore encourages broad public participation in the provincial consultations, and written submissions, on the Bill and with the following main objections in mind:
1) Existing law (including the Children’s Act, the Domestic Violence Act, and the common law offence of “assault”) already provides firm and adequate protection against child abuse and violence. The amendment, however, poses a severe threat to parental rights and religious freedom. It removes the option for parents to decide for themselves – in accordance with their own moral or Scriptural convictions – what is in the best interest of their children.
2) While the State must intervene where physical violence or abuse is taking place, a statutory prohibition on physical correction in the home may create the situation that significant amounts of taxpayers’ money are misdirected into training interventions and court cases involving parents and families that are not at risk, when it should be directed towards those families and communities that are truly vulnerable and in need of such intervention.
Provincial Consultations on the Bill to be held in August as follows:
Gauteng (Johannesburg / Pretoria), Free State (Bloemfontein)
15 – 17 August
Western Cape (Cape Town), Limpopo (Polokwane)
22 – 24 August
Northern Cape (Kimberley), North West (Rustenburg), KZN (Durban)
29 – 31 August
Eastern Cape (Port St Johns), Mpumalanga (Nelspruit)
5 – 7 September
*The above schedule, which differs from the schedule originally published, is as received from the Department on 6 August 2018. As at this date, the Department advised that the venues for the meetings are still to be confirmed. As soon as such information is available, FOR SA will circulate same. Alternatively, participants can contact Ms Sarah Mabasa (DSD Chief Directorate: Children’s Legislation, Monitoring and Reporting) directly at SarahMaf@dsd.gov.za or 012 – 312 7725.