Christian group opposes South African court's ban on spanking children

A Christian organization has challenged a high court's ruling that outlawed the spanking of children in South Africa and said the judgment could criminalize good parents who chastise their kids out of love.

(REUTERS / Carlos Jasso)A gavel is seen in a hearing room in Panama City April 7, 2016.

The Johannesburg High Court recently declared that any form of physical punishment inflicted on children in South Africa was illegal. On Nov. 9, an application for leave to appeal was filed by Christian non-profit Freedom of Religion South Africa against the ruling, the Daily Maverick detailed.

The ruling was released after a father was convicted of subjecting his teenage son to physical punishment for allegedly watching pornography. The court said the reasonable chastisement defense was not aligned with South Africa's Constitution and could not be used, while hitting a child was considered assault under the criminal law.

According to FOR SA, the high court's ruling effectively classified any form of physical discipline under assault even though some of them were within reason. However, the Christian organization clarified that its appeal had nothing to do with the father's case.

"The organisation's appeal does not concern the merits of the father's appeal against his conviction by the magistrate's court on charges of assault," said FOR SA executive director Michael Swain. "There is a clear and fundamental difference between moderate chastisement by parents motivated by love and in the best interest of their child and physical violence or abuse where the state obviously has a duty to intervene."

Meanwhile in Scotland, a member of the Parliament presented new legislation that would criminalize the spanking of a child. The Scottish National Party has reportedly promised to sign it into law in 2018, Vox relayed.

At present, Scotland's laws have allowances for "reasonable chastisement" when talking about child discipline. Should the measure be turned into a law, Scotland will become the first country in the U.K. to join other nations in criminalizing the hitting of children.