Is it right to outlaw all forms of corporal punishment?

Severe corporal punishment still carried out at many schools. Net photo



RE:“Scale up effort to protect children’s rights, govt urged” (The New Times, March 29). Allow me to express my outrage on the proposal to outlaw corporal punishment in families. I believe this is a thin line between ensuring that essential parental discipline and obvious excess leading to child abuse, but nevertheless outlawing this in a law is detrimental to the family unit.

As a Christian, guided by Christian beliefs, the Bible guides us on the ‘rod’ of correction in four different verses in Proverbs, namely:

1. Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.

2. Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far away.

3. Punish them with the rod and save them from death.

4. A rod and a reprimand impart wisdom, but a child left undisciplined disgraces its mother.

Elsewhere, the Bible equates the loving correction of a child as an aspect of the tender heart of the father, but equally the Bible admonishes the parents not to do so excessively as in Colossians 3:21 where the scriptures say, “Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged”.

In the world, the issue of child spanking has raised heated debates, with some western societies encouraging neighbours to call the police if they see a parent spanking a child. Scientific research even suggests that spanking damages the child in the long term, but in the 1960s, same science showed that tobacco has minimum harm to the body, but years later revised its findings on tobacco and lung cancer. However, sciences in some cases can also be wrong—remember the flat earth theory and a number of theories that later on proved to be false.

Up to 52 countries out of 195 countries in the world have banned spanking, and as it happens, the momentum starts to gather and so I’m not surprised this has reached Rwanda through this organisation.

So where do we stand as Rwanda in this debate? I have expressed my strong opinion as a Christian and a parent, that spanking is entirely acceptable within families, but it will be interesting to see how this debate enfolds over time.


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