Corporal Punishment in South African Content

Corporal punishment is a punishment aimed to cause physical pain or discomfort to a person. It is practised globally mostly at schools. It involves kicking, scratching, pinching, throwing children and so on. This essay will focus on the history of corporal punishment, the causes and its consequences as it can have extremely bad results. It will also explain why corporal punishment is still continued even though the law prohibited it and the alternatives to corporal punishment.

Corporal punishment was a fundamental part of the schooling system in South African schools in the 20th century.

Teachers believed that using it will help them to preserve discipline at schools. They also believed that learners who witness others being disciplined will avoid behaviours leading to the corporal punishment. There are false arguments likely used by older people to use this punishment on children which include ‘without pain there’s no gain’ and ‘the ears of African children are on their buttocks’. These myths are totally wrong as most children who are continuously beaten are likely to repeat the same mistakes and this leads to an increase in bad behaviour instead of decreasing it.

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Section 10 of the South African Schools Act 1996 restrained corporal punishment however, it is still continued in some schools resulting in terrible consequences like learners being hospitalized, paralysed and some dead. South African government filled the space left by the banning of corporal punishment by appointing School Governing Body (SGBs) and involved parents in school’s affairs. Not so long ago we read about a grade 3 learner who was continuously beaten by her teacher, sadly she ended up losing her life at a hospital in the Free State.

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Another incident was caused by a principal who assaulted a learner with a hose-pipe, leading to that learner being paralysed.

Corporal punishment is illegal but people are still exposed to it, and it results in learners being ashamed to go back to school. Common reasons of teachers using this corporal punishment is that learners could be making noise in class, not finishing their school work on record time and fighting whereas, other teachers use it because they suffered it while they were still schooling. Some use it out of anger. One teacher argued that ‘it is used as a method of correcting student’s behaviours.’ Although it does not reduce the behaviour, in fact, it causes more reckless behaviours.

My point of view concerning corporal punishment is that schools must not continue with corporal punishment because it is not good for learners. Teachers who are not following the law by continuing with this punishment must suffer the consequences like being suspended as they put learner’s lives in serious danger. Teachers must make sure that they teach learners to be disciplined positively rather than humiliating them as this affects them emotionally and they may want to revenge. Corporal punishment makes matters worse as it teaches people subjected to it to be aggressive. I think all schools should ban it as learners easily adopt behaviours, and if parents want their children to behave well they would not use this punishment as it has countless negative results.

It does not produce desirable results however, it leads to increase in bad behaviour, disturbing learners in classrooms, learners not participating well in their school work and increase in learners dropping out in schools as they do not feel safe there. Many learners can be seriously injured to an extent that they need medical attention and in cases like this schools have to pay for that learner’s medical expenses as the teacher is liable for that. In addition, this might lead to retaliation among teachers. Children who are exposed to corporal punishment may bully others as it teaches them that violence is acceptable. It can also lead to long-term psychological damage like depression and suicidal thoughts.

Also, learners may lose interest in learning and attending schools as they are exposed to violence, and this will stop them from treasuring education, therefore, learners end up hating the subject and the teacher as they live in fear of who teaches them. They grow up knowing that the only way to solve conflicts is by violating others as they learned that from their teachers, siblings and parents. They believe that it is appropriate to solve conflicts rather than having a peaceful communication with a person who wronged them.

Alternatives to corporal punishment include correcting learners in a positive way, which will help them to develop well without experiencing violence. Teachers can discipline disruptive learners by requesting parent’s pick-ups and suspending them if they continue with their bad behaviours. They can also reward learners with good behaviour. Above all, learners may need to be disciplined differently as they are not the same. Teachers must be able to consider the temper and disposition of the individual child. For sensitive learners, physical punishment like spanking may not be necessary while with others it may be effective, however, it is not legal. Children must be corrected by mere words. They need time to be well-developed so teachers and parents should teach them to learn from their mistakes to become better people.

According to Section 20 of the South African Schools Act, no 84 of 1996 stated that parents have a great say in the governance and ethos of their children’s schools. Parents should play a significant role in building their children by being in contact with their children’s teachers and also helping them without them taking sides and favouring their children even when they are wrong. In fact, they should stand for the truth and correct their children’s mistakes so that they can grow up to be future leaders and good parents.

This positive discipline will teach children to learn self-discipline without fear, as they will be able to distinguish between acceptable and unacceptable behaviours. They will learn from their mistakes and gain more positive experiences from their mistakes. Learners will feel safe and supported rather than having fear to go to schools and this will help in creating safe schools, better classrooms and great school reputation. Having a good relationship with learners is good as they will feel free and safe when they talk with teachers who listen and guide them.

Personally, I think that the government must invest their hope in creating good schools by making sure that all teachers know positive different methods of disciplining learners and how they can implement those methods positively in order to build a better society. Teachers may also teach learners to apologize to their peers when they are wrong and also writing task on the effects of unacceptable behaviour so that they can be aware of the effects. Also by asking them to assist in identifying bad behaviours. Schools should implement discipline practices.
No one must put corporal punishment into practise it must be totally banned in all South African schools. After all, children are bundles of energy that is seeking release, and they are hungry to learn and explore and to try out new things. Teachers and parents should set guidelines for their children and make sure that they know the limits, in addition, children must move freely within those limits. Corporal punishment is not acceptable so we must not support it by allowing it.


  1., punishment-in-schools-is-alive-and-well//https://www.researchgate-net/publication/279645747
Updated: May 19, 2021
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Corporal Punishment in South African Content. (2020, Oct 11). Retrieved from

Corporal Punishment in South African Content essay
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