Continued Practise of Corporal Punishment by Teachers Must Be Met with Contempt

ActionSA is concerned about the reported continued use of corporal punishment in our schools, 28 years after the practice was banned.

In 1996, Section 10 of the South African School’s Act banned the practise of corporal punishment in schools.

This because corporal punishment can have a physical and psychological effect on the wellbeing of a child. We can talk of ruptured ear drums, brain damage, bodily injuries or even death in some cases. While the physical damage can, in certain instances, be repaired; the psychological and emotional effect can remain for a lifetime.

The affected children can later in life:

– become perpetrators or victims of violence,

– develop mental health issues that can result in self-harm and depression,

– resort to substance abuse,

– drop out of school, or

– engage in high-risk social behaviours.

StatsSA released a Children Series Volume about children exposed to maltreatment in schools, which indicates that there is a continued usage of corporal punishment by teachers in schools across the country. The report states that in 2019, just over a million (8,2%) out of the 13 million school going children between ages 5-17 were reported to have experienced violence in the form corporal punishment at school. 71% of these children were primary school children between ages 8 – 10 years and in public schools.

Schools are supposed to be safe places where learners obtain knowledge for preparation to becoming responsible citizens of the country. Hence ActionSA believes that effective early childhood development interventions are required to ensure that children establish the strong foundation required for a productive educational journey. However, effects of corporal punishment have the potential to disrupt these efforts.

Cases of violence in schools must be reported to the South African Council of Educators (SACE), a statutory body established to develop and maintain ethical and professional standards for educators. SACE has a mandate to sanction erring educators and the time has come for their punishment to befit the erring.