Disciplining children in the home: Where does one draw the line between discipline and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment? A critique on whether corporal punishment in the home should be abolished
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In 1992 Zambia was declared a Christian nation. The Bible says "spare the rod spoil the child". The Bible sanctions corporal punishment in the home. Zambia has no clear legislative law on corporal punishment of children in the home. However it has an obligation at international law to protect children from cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. Zambia has a dual legal system and under customary law corporal punishment is allowed as children are considered to be the property of the parents. Before criminal corporal punishment and corporal punishment in schools was abolished, there were regulations on its administration. However with regards to corporal punishment in the home, there are no regulations with parents or guardians being allowed to use reasonable discipline. What is reasonable is left to the judgment of the parent or guardian. How then does one know as to the proper action in the discipline of a child as the law is not clear as to the dos and don'ts? This paper seeks to establish whether corporal punishment should be abolished. The first chapter gives the meaning of the term corporal punishment. It discusses the legal status of corporal punishment in the home in Zambia. In the second chapter, the various treaties and conventions relating to children's rights are discussed as well as the rights of children and the obligation of parents. The third chapter examines the effects of corporal punishment and the available alternatives to corporal punishment. The fourth chapter critically analyses whether corporal punishment should be done away with. The fifth chapter concludes that corporal punishment should not be abolished but that there is need to have appropriate legislation regulating the use of corporal punishment by parents.
- Law