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Ac­cord­ing to a study by Cape Town-based non-gov­ern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tion Rap­can, 57% of South African par­ents in­ter­viewed use their hands to spank their chil­dren while 33% use other ob­jects, such as belts.

Par­ents need to learn to deal with their own frus­tra­tions with­out us­ing vi­o­lence, says Rev­erend Patrick Go­dana, gov­ern­ment and me­dia li­ai­son of­fi­cer for Sonke Gen­der Jus­tice.

The or­gan­i­sa­tion pro­motes pos­i­tive dis­ci­pline meth­ods that de­velop chil­dren’s cop­ing and learn­ing skills with­out the child learn­ing fear, he says.

He be­lieves hit­ting a child sim­ply erodes that child’s self-es­teem and con­fi­dence. “There are no ben­e­fits to smack­ing,” Rev­erend Go­dana adds. “There are only re­grets and the per­pet­u­a­tion of vi­o­lent no­tions. Chil­dren must trust their par­ents, not fear them. Vi­o­lence begets vi­o­lence.”

Other ar­gu­ments against smack­ing in­clude that it teaches chil­dren they don’t de­serve re­spect, that it leads to chil­dren be­com­ing in­dif­fer­ent to the pain of oth­ers, and that chil­dren who are spanked are more sus­cep­ti­ble to delin­quent be­hav­iour. While the act of smack­ing a child is abu­sive, it doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily mean the par­ent is abu­sive, Child­line’s Joan van Niek­erk says.

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