The prevailing social attitudes towards child discipline in Zimbabwe

Getrude Dadirai GWENZI, Uchechi Shirley ANADUAKA, Miriam Nabawanga KATUNZE, Sarah Tara SAM, Lea KAMUNA

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries have made strides towards the realisation of children’s rights since the signing of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (1990). Zimbabwe has also worked to promote child welfare and protection. Child discipline practices are a crucial component of child protection, particularly when discipline becomes violent. In Zimbabwe, the High Court recently declared the corporal punishment of juvenile offenders as unconstitutional. However, the physical punishment of children in the home was traditionally regarded as culturally acceptable and seen as a way to guide children in the right direction in life. While there existed several studies on corporal punishment in schools, there is a dearth of studies focusing on parents’ disciplinary practices. The paper presents findings from a qualitative study conducted with forty-one parents living in both rural and urban areas of Zimbabwe. Semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions (FGDs) were employed to collect data. The findings suggested that Zimbabwean parents still largely believe in physical punishment as the main method of disciplining children. While few parents reported using a combination of alternative disciplining practices with physical beating, most parents did not believe in doing away with physical punishment altogether. Physical punishment was justified by certain social attitudes, including cultural and religious beliefs. The study has implications for the global initiative towards outlawing corporal punishment for children and provides evidence for more community sensitisation on positive parenting practices, in both urban and rural areas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)313-321
Number of pages9
JournalAfrican Journal of Social Work
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© National Association of Social Workers-Zimbabwe/Author(s)


  • child discipline practices
  • child protection
  • corporal punishment
  • positive parenting
  • Zimbabwe


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