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What laws impact on how your child can be disciplined at school
According to the South African Schools Act (SASA), all learners attending a school are bound by the Code of Conduct of the school. If the learners break this code of conduct, the schools are allowed to discipline them in order to teach them acceptable behaviour. However, the Act does forbid corporal punishment. This is defined as any physical punishment that is intended to do grievous (serious) bodily harm to the child. Corporal punishment is seen by the law as an action that would violate (go against) the basic rights of the child.
Meanwhile, the Constitution also ensures the protection of children. It states that everyone has the right to freedom and security, including the rights to be free from all forms of violence, not to be tortured, treated or punished in a cruel, inhuman or degrading way. It further protects every child from maltreatment, neglect, abuse or degradation. It also states that everyone has inherent human dignity and the right to its protection.
Lastly, the 2005 Children’s Act says that any behaviour that would cause injury to a child, whether it is physical or emotional, is not allowed.
Learners who have been abused by an educator or any staff member of a school can report it to the Head of Department (HOD), the principal or alternatively the school governing body. External bodies like the Department of Social Development, Department of Education, the Police and the South African Council for Educators can also be approached.
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