2018). Corporal punishment has emotional and psychological consequences whereby children who are victims of corporal punishment often feel anger and shame at the same time, which leads to a feeling of humiliation which damages their sense of dignity, self-confidence and trust in adults who repeatedly use corporal punishment. Besides, corporal punishment has physical consequences. In support of this, Straus (2003) and Hyman (1990) states that corporal punishment is maltreatment and psychological abuse of the child. They further state that its effects are somatic complaints, increased anxiety, changes in personality and depression. Injuries and death due to corporal punishment are not an illusion but a reality. Moreover, Gershoff (2002) argues that corporal punishment increases child moral internalization, aggression, delinquent behaviour and decreases the quality of parent-child relationships. Headlines in Zimbabwe from Newspapers such as “mom beats son to death for 25 cents ” (The Herald, 2016), Dad kills son for stealing 3 eggs’ (My Zimbabwe 2016) are an indication that corporal punishment has serious negative consequences. These negative consequences have facilitated the development of global conventions and protocols that influence the enactment of laws and policies that outlaw the outright use of corporal punishment.
The legal abolition of corporal punishment is based on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (Shmueli 2005). Article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) that was ratified by Zimbabwe in 1990, obligates member states to take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence (Mushowe, 2018). Article 37 sums up the UNCRC’s derision for violence against children by stating that State Parties shall ensure that: “No child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”. Hence it can be seen that globally, corporal punishment is regarded as violence against children and a breach of fundamental human rights (Mushowe, 2018). The practice is considered inhumane and degrading as it violates children’s physical integrity and demonstrates disrespect for human dignity and undermines the self-esteem of children (Mushowe, 2018). Nations around the world have taken up legal bans on corporal at accelerating rates since the introduction of the CRC. However noteworthy that only nations with representative forms of government have taken up bans on corporal punishment (Zolotor and Puzia, 2010). Corporal punishment within family institutions in Zimbabwe was legal under the Lancaster House Constitution (Mushowe, 2018). The Constitution of 1979 was amended in 1990 to allow “moderate” corporal punishment “in appropriate circumstances upon a person under the age of eighteen years by his parent or guardian or by someone in loco parentis or in whom are vested any of the powers of his parent or guardian (Global Initiative to End all Corporal Punishment, 2019). Subsequently, the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) in article 241(2) (a) stated
- Fall '15
- CHILD DISCIPLINE, Corporal punishment in the home