ACDP says criminalising good parents who simply want to raise law-abiding and responsible citizens is bad law-making

Media Statement
Cheryllyn Dudley, MP and Whip

·        Judgment represents an overreach of judicial authority

·        SA laws were entirely adequate in this case which makes ruling indefensible

·        ACDP supports application for leave to appeal the judgement 

ACDP Member of Parliament, Cheryllyn Dudley, during an SABC3 TV debate being recorded today, on the Court Judgement on spanking, said that “While the Judge emphasised that the intention was not to charge parents with a crime, the ACDP is of the opinion that abolishing the defense of reasonable chastisement will have negative consequences and would in effect undermine and disempower parents.

An independent legal analysis at the end of 2014 by a prominent NZ public lawyer of court cases involving prosecutions for smacking found that statements made by politicians in New Zealand that the ‘smacking ban’ would not criminalise ‘good parents’ for lightly smacking their children are in fact, inconsistent with the legal effect and application of the law since it was in acted in 2007.

In addition a report at the beginning of last year analysing New Zealand’s 2007 anti-smacking law, found that there was not a single social indicator relating to the abuse of children that had shown significant or sustained improvement since the passing of the law.”

New Zealands Police statistics show there has been a 136% increase in physical abuse, 43% increase in sexual abuse, 45% increase in neglect or ill-treatment of children, and 71 child abuse deaths since the law was passed in 2007.

Dudley said “The reality in practice is that this sort of law does more harm than good and actually tears families apart - even an investigation without prosecution, by the police or social services is hugely traumatic and undermines parental authority leaving children extremely vulnerable.

The judges conclusion in this instance has erroneously equated abuse and violence with reasonable chastisement or a spanking - this is not only misguided it is unhelpful in seriously addressing the plight of vulnerable children.  Parents who use occasional smacking because it works are simply using common sense.

Criminalising good parents who simply want to raise law-abiding and responsible citizens is bad law-making and in this case represents an overreach of judicial authority.  In SA we have laws to deal with abuse and violence which must be implemented. These laws were entirely adequate in the case that was before the judge which makes her ruling indefensible.

Members of Parliament, democratically elected by the people of South Africa, considered this issue thoroughly over many years and concluded that it would not serve the desired purpose for reasonable chastisement to be abolished.  The ACDP at the time placed the emphasis on the fact that the extra strain on scarce resources, both skills and finances, would exacerbate existing problems and place vulnerable families and communities at greater risk.

The ACDP values family and the important role it plays in society and is committed to protecting family and a family’s right to their beliefs in regard to the upbringing of their children.  Parents should be considered competent unless proved otherwise and dysfunctional families must be the focus of our limited resources and services.

The ACDP will support those who are presently applying for leave to appeal the judgement.