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Policy Analyst reviews Sue Bradfords Bill.

Posted by watchingcyfswatchnewzealand on April 19, 2007

As posted on CYFSWATCH NZ

Policy Analyst reviews Sue Bradfords Bill.
Wednesday, 18.04.2007, 08:08pm (GMT12)

17 April 2007 – Family Integrity #223 — Summary of Timaru Riding Crop cases

17 April 2007 – Family Integrity #223 — Summary of Timaru Riding Crop cases

Greetings all,

Things around the Section 59 debate are getting very heated, very confused, somewhat scary and way off topic.

The pro-repeal side have taken the lady from Timaru wielding the horse crop as their “poster girl” to advertise why parents should be legally forbidden to use a Section 59 defense, or any defense, to correct their children using reasonable force, regardless of how light it might be: because, they claim, it too easily leads to horrendous acts of violence and abuse against children that are subsequently “let off” by the courts when the parents and their clever lawyers bring up Section 59 and plead something along the lines that parents have a right to discipline their own children.

This kind of explanation is clearly a mix of truth and error.

First, the pro-repeal lobby (Bradford and her mates) only ever look at the actions of the parents toward the child: in this case, the mum gave the boy six of the best with an 18 inch bamboo pot-plant stake and later two or three strokes with the riding crop. They do not look at the wider context of family history, events leading to the corrective action, the results, etc. (The jury did…that’s why she was acquitted so quickly.) We all would be horrified to hear of a parent striking a child in this way FOR NO REASON. So Bradford and Kiro and Clark and Edridge et al all play on this and always completely ignore the context of the disciplinary actions. One must suppose that to them, whatever the child has done can in no way justify a disciplinary smack, not ever, not for any reason, no matter how light the smack, no matter how horrible and damaging the child’s actions, no matter how reasonable the force used. This is precisely the tact taken by the UN Committee for the Rights of the Child in a comment on this issue they published in June last year (see http://tinyurl.com/fvrwo). This is a modern philosophy that has very little support or currency among parents anywhere in the world. That is certainly what Labour and the Greens are finding out here: 85% of Kiwis do not agree with a ban on smacking children for corrective purposes as part of the parenting tool kit.

Second, if the Swedish experiment is any indication as to why this philosophy is pushed so vehemently by virtually ALL government departments and virtually ALL so-called child and family welfare groups (virtually ALL of whom are also heavily funded by the state), it is because this philosophy CAUSES family dysfunction. As family dysfunction increases, so does social dysfunction. A chorus goes up, “Why doesn’t somebody DO something?” Up step the state agencies and those groups funded by the state: social workers, psychiatrists, psychologists, counsellors, lawyers plus all their secretaries and office staff have vested interests in seeing the dysfunction continue and increase, for it means more money for them. Such bureaucracies ALWAYS tend to grow, for their focus very quickly becomes one of self-preservation rather than working themselves out of a job by finding permanent solutions to the social problems they were supposedly set up to solve.

Third, Bradford and her mates are strongly implying that they think the juries in such trials, 12 of their peers, are thick as bricks or somehow otherwise intellectually deficient and unable to tell the difference between “reasonable force to correct” and “abuse”. Or they are simply saying they don’t like the decision made by the juries. These things are implied, but what Bradford and co are really trying to do is impose their own philosophy on everyone else by saying that juries should not have to decide such things, that the law should always clearly rule any use of force, regardless of how light or reasonable, outside the law if that force is used for the purpose of correction. What Bradford has never told us is why she so hates the perfectly natural idea, one practised for thousands of years, of parents correcting their children.

Fourth, the one group solidly against this bill is parents. Contrary to what Bradford and Kiro claim, parents are not clamouring for the “right” to beat their children…how ridiculous can you get, Bradford. Parents are proclaiming that they have natural duties and responsibilities toward their children and resent the state – especially a radically feminist and childless Prime Minister and an even more radically feminist Sue Bradford of the highly dysfunctional lifestyle track record – parents resent the state and thoroughly unqualified people like Clark and Bradford interposing themselves between parents and their children claiming they have to protect the child’s rights from being denied and trampled on by the parents.

This denigration and bullying of parents by the state has to stop. Only parents will ever love and be as committed to their children as they routinely are…certainly Clark and Bradford and state social workers have little to offer children in the areas of love and commitment. Parents also have most to lose by this legislation: their own children, their own family harmony and peace, their own authority within their own families and over their own children to correct, train and discipline using any degree of reasonable force. This Bill is clear evidence of the state claiming for itself the posterity of us all, our children, and wanting the best shot at determining the future by indoctrinating our children in its schools and allowing only its agents (police and social workers), not the parents, to force them to behave in certain ways approved by the state.

The Present Debate
I’ve cut and pasted three items below.

The first is a blog from July last year revealing details of a pending court case which will not happen until November 2007 apparently. This involves the Timaru riding crop lady and an older son in a separate incident in which she is again being charged with assault.

The second item is a news story from last Friday about this very court case. Note how different the two accounts are. The first apparently is based on a chat with the Timaru lady herself, the second is based on the testimony of the son.

The third item is one blogger’s go at knitting the two together….and this is the scary part: it looks as if the Police and the Justice System are being manipulated by CYFS and maybe the Labour-led Government for the purely pragmatic ends of achieving their political social-engineering agenda. Truth and justice are quite possibly being trampled upon for the higher “good” that our “ever-so-wise” and “benevolent” leaders in Parliament have determined we need, even though we are apparently too thick to see it for ourselves.

There is clearly something going on with this Bill, for Labour has revealed that they are particularly committed to it and prepared to take a lot of very damaging hits (sustained criticism from media, disapproval of voters, the embarrassment of trying to push it through urgency and then trying – and failing – to make it a Government Bill) if only they can secure its passage into law.

And here is where the debate has gone off topic: smacking is a peripheral issue. This bill will criminalise parents using reasonable force – any force – to correct their children, thus prohibiting the most basic expression of their authority: the use of reasonable force. If you have no ability to use force, you have no authority, for you cannot enforce anything. Police and the courts would be reduced to making suggestions only if they could not use force (arrest, fines, imprisonment) to enforce the laws. The use of force is basic and inseparable from authority.

In addition, since the word “correct” is not defined in NZ law, it can be made to mean a huge range of things including any attempt by parents to train or discipline or improve or coach their children. Why is Bradford so vehemently against parents doing such things? And forbidding the use of any reasonable force is not just a ban on smacking…it is totally illogical to ban what is reasonable, and since “reasonable force” is also undefined in law, it can surely apply to any effort by the parents to impose, force, their will upon the child, however they might attempt to do this: time out, restrain, threaten, withhold affection or privileges, grounding, argue, yell and scream, humiliate, emotionally manipulate, negotiate, demand, appeal to conscience or religion or tradition or culture, etc. This effectively forbids any imposition of parental requirements or prohibitions upon children, unless one of two things can be established: the role of parents is to impose their best set of standards and attitudes and understandings upon their children; or the role of parents is to merely care for their children’s physical needs and impose as little moral guidance upon them as possible unless the children have agreed or have given their permission.

Bradford’s Bill appears to be totally committed to that second option. This is precisely what Bradford and Clark mean when they talk about children being given the same rights as adults. Certainly the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCROC) is pushing this idea of children being considered as individuals separate from their families, with their own rights which will be proclaimed, defined and defended by the state against those who are most likely to deny the child those rights: the child’s parents.

Conclusion
Anyway, please do not make any judgements about the latest media and blog-land revelations and discussions of the Timaru riding crop lady’s situation: we may well not have the full facts until the end of the year, after the trial. But we will get the facts; and they already promise to be a lot more complicated and involved than we’re likely to read in the media’s sensationalised pulp.

Please also do not assume that we or anyone else is holding the Timaru lady up as a sterling example for us all to follow, encouraging us all to go out and buy a riding crop to have handy. I know she would not wish her life’s story and family context on to anyone else. But do recall that in the original riding crop court case, the jury unanimously acquitted her within one hour of deliberation without her or any other witness saying one word in her defense: the prosecution did all the talking! Many people are striving to clarify the facts of this case (facts that Bradford, Murry Edridge of Barnardos, Kiro, Pillay and others steadfastly and creatively obscure rather than elucidate). They strive to make the facts clear because they feel she is being unfairly, maliciously and unjustly caricatured by the repeal lobby for their own political agendas, and not for the good of her, her family or the many other families whose peace and security and integrity will most definitely be threatened by Bradford’s Bill. And the press demonise her and misreport the facts for the low-life purpose of creating sensational headlines to artificially boost sales.

And don’t forget that the real issue is the state usurping from parents their natural authority over their own children. This will of necessity deliver to the state and its agents the only legal authority to correct children by using any degree of force, these state agents being the police, social workers and to a lesser degree, school teachers. (Though have you heard that in the UK, school teachers have re-gained the authority to use force with children not just in the classroom, but on the streets as well? It is a very logical step in the totalitarian agenda to gain complete control over “our” children since they are increasingly considered to be “the nation’s” children).

Regards,

Craig Smith
National Director
Family Integrity
PO Box 9064
Palmerston North
New Zealand
Ph: (06) 357-4399
Fax: (06) 357-4389
Family.Integrity@xtra.co.nz
http://www.FamilyIntegrity.org.nz

Our Home….Our Castle

Item One

http://big-news.blogspot.com/search?q=broke+nose
Saturday, July 01, 2006
son breaks “riding crop” mum’s nose

post has been updated 6pm
The woman who was acquitted in court of physically disciplining her 12-year-old son with a riding crop was visited by her six-foot 16-year old son in January. He kicked his stepfather in the head and broke his mothers nose. The last time the mothers nose was boken was when she was assaulted by an ex-husband who was charged with assault. However the police have not laid assault charges against the boy, despite his parents pressing for this.

The mother had access rights after the son was told to live with his father because she was deemed an unsafe parent by Child, Youth and Family, because she disciplined the younger one with a riding crop and a cane.

But this older son is a brat. Since living with his father he has had free access to alcohol and party pills and, according to his mother, has been breaking into cars and has appeared before the youth court on 13 charges.

As well as breaking his mothers nose, and kicking his stepfather in the head with his size 15 shoes (his stepfather has a serious head injury, remember) he repeatedly spat at them both while travelling with them in the car. The stepfather had to physically restrain the boy, and pull him off his mother. He was punching her and repeatedly calling her a f…….. arsehole, f….. whore, and a few other things. So she physically disciplined him and his stepfather tied his feet together to stop him from kicking him in the head again, before calling the police, who handcuffed the swearing boy and took him away.

Now, this mother along with her husband is facing an assault charge laid last month after the boy went to CYFS the following week. That is why it is now in the media. Perhaps CYFS, or its supporters, has released information on the case.

More sadly, CYFS Dunedin manager Peter Guest has now stopped the younger sons unsupervised access to his mum specifically because of the charges. He did this just two days before the holidays, without even telling the boy. The boy was going to stay with his mum over the holidays next week. Instead he found out from his mother that he is to stay with his grandmother, who was the approved CYFS caregiver that physically disciplined the boy and gave him Risperdal and Ritalin.

Guest is also trying to take the woman’s daughter away from her again. The mother has complained to the police and laid charges of assault against her son but has been told that she has to prove that she was assaulted before the police would do anything. This is despite the fact that CYFS did not have to prove charges against the parent, and that case is before the courts.

Perhaps the ACC claim form for the broken nose may be proof.

Anyone with half a brain can now find out this woman’s name through the media,as one paper has named her on the assault charge and then linkedthe two cases together on anohter report – but her name is permanently suppressed by the courts. For obvious reasons I have not provided links to the papers concerned.

Do you think the older boy should be charged with assault?

Item Two

http://www.stuff.co.nz/4024349a10.html
Horsewhip case mum accused of new attack
The Timaru Herald | Friday, 13 April 2007
The woman acquitted of assaulting her son with a cane and horsewhip, in a case cited as a justification for the anti-smacking bill, is to face trial on charges of assaulting another of her sons.
The woman and her husband appeared in Timaru District Court yesterday. After depositions, the man pleaded guilty to two charges of assault and not guilty to a charge of assault with intent to injure. His wife pleaded not guilty to three charges of assault and one of assault with intent to injure.
Justices of the peace Kevin Dey and Margaret Cosgrove remanded the pair on bail to April 30 for the setting of a trial date.
In May 2005 a Timaru jury found the woman not guilty of two charges of assaulting a son, then aged under 14. She admitted giving him “six of the best” with a cane for misbehaving at school, and striking him three to four times with a horsewhip after an incident in which he waved a baseball bat at her partner.
Yesterday, her teenage son told the court he was punched, kicked and hog-tied by his stepfather after he agreed he had no respect for him.
All the charges arose out of a journey the three made in January last year. The night before the trip, it had been agreed they would leave at 9.30am, but the following morning the man was shouting and swearing because he considered they were running late, even though they were on the road at 9.15.
The man swore at the boy frequently and the boy responded the same way. At one stage his mother suggested he had no respect for the man. When he agreed he did not, he said his mother slapped and punched him in the face at least three times.
A few minutes later, he punched his mother once on the temple. The man stopped the vehicle and got out. The boy got out too, and started walking away. The man punched him with a closed fist. The boy was also kicked in the chest and kidneys.
The man told his wife to get some tape from the vehicle. He bound the boy’s arms and taped them to his leg.
The man told his wife to call the police. Instead, she suggested they take the boy to Geraldine police station. It was closed, so they decided to drive to the Timaru station.
The boy managed to call his birth father on his cellphone, but his mother grabbed the phone.
His mouth was filling with blood from his bleeding nose. He spat it out, further angering his stepfather.
The vehicle stopped and the boy ran into the road, in front of a vehicle driven by Geraldine man Colin Hobbs. Mr Hobbs told the court the boy’s arms were tied together. There was blood around his nose and mouth.
Mr Hobbs saw the man kick the boy two or three times and then grab him by the scruff of the neck, pulling him toward the vehicle, and put both his knees into the boy’s ribcage.
“He was putting everything into it,” he said. The woman did nothing to stop the assault.
When Senior Constable Graeme Walker arrived at the scene, all three family members were visibly upset. In an attempt to defuse the situation, he took the boy home and sent the couple on their way.

Item Three

http://big-news.blogspot.com/search/label/riding%20crop
Friday, April 13, 2007
Riding crop mother has her day in court, again

NB this post has been updated
As some people are expecting me to write about the riding crop mum of Timaru (and I wish people would stick to the facts and desist from calling it a horse whip), who was back in court on assault charges, I may as well.

As readers will know, I was a aware of the charges, in fact I blogged about them in July last year. That’s how long it has taken to come to court. Public Address blogger Russell Brown criticises my earlier post:
the account of the third-party witness, who has no reason to lie, directly contradicts the account relayed by Dave Crampton on some key points. Hopefully he’ll now stop depicting these people as victims of their terrible children and think a bit harder about the violence in this family.
Actually, the account of the witness doesn’t contradict my key points. Thats because the witness didn’t witness the woman assaulting the boy. Neither did he witness the boy punching his mother in the face and breaking her nose at the start of this whole sorry episode. He witnessed the father assaulting the boy, and that father pleaded guilty to assault, as he should.

What Russell Brown hasn’t mentioned is the following, much is (apparently) in the summary of facts but not in the media report he relies on: The teenager (aged 16 or 17) was on an access visit. He punched his mother in the face and broke her nose prior to all this happening, resulting in his mother getting ACC. He was was charged with assault but Police decided not to pursue it and let him off with a formal warning, reasons of which are suppressed. Charges were laid against the mother but police withdrew the charges when they found out what her son had done, but the crown relaid them after what was most probably political and CYF pressures after the boy got his warning.

Furthermore, the man who witnessed the stepfather’s assault on the boy has said that the woman didn’t exactly do anything to stop the assault – but would you if your nose had just been broken? Russell has criticised the woman, alleging that she is a bad parent for not doing anything to stop the beating, even questioning why she did not call out for her partner to stop. [This has since been refuted in comments by the woman herself].

Russell has criticised the actions of both parents, but not the teenager. Why? I don`t condone the actions of the stepfather either, but if Russell’s son was in the care of a former partner or CYFs and came home on an access visit, broke his nose, spat blood in his face, assaulted his partner, kicked him and swore at him, what would he do – give him a hug and play this http://www.amplifier.co.nz/video/17174/welcome_home.html on his stereo?

posted by Dave at 3:52 PM http://big-news.blogspot.com/2007/04/riding-crop-mother-has-her-day-in-court.html

 

16 April 2007 – Larry Baldock and Sheryl Savill – CIR Petition Passes Half-Way Mark In Only 6 Weeks

16 April 2007 – Larry Baldock and Sheryl Savill – CIR Petition Passes Half-Way Mark In Only 6 Weeks

http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO0704/S00195.htm
CIR Petition Passes Half-Way Mark In Only 6 Weeks
Monday, 16 April 2007, 4:27 pm
Press Release: Larry Baldock and Sheryl Savill
Press Release Monday April 16th 4pm.

CIR Petition Passes Half-Way Mark In Only 6 Weeks

CIR Petition coordinator Larry Baldock announced today that the petition to force a referendum on the Sue Bradford’s Anti-Smacking Bill had passed the halfway point towards the required target of 300,000 signatures.

As of today, 150,745 signatures had been received on Sheryl Savill’s Citizens Initiated Referendum on the question, “should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?

The law allows twelve months to collect the required 300,000 signatures.

“To have arrived at the halfway mark after only six weeks must make this the fastest petition gathering exercise in the history of the CIR Act, and needless to say all of us involved are very encouraged by the support we have received from all over the country,” he said.

“While the supporters of Sue Bradord’s HOME INVASION, ANTI CORRECTION, ANTI-SMACKING Bill continue to argue about the accuracy of all the polls that have been conducted that show an overwhelming majority of opposition to her bill, we can confidently say we are going to be able to require a referendum to be held at the next election. There will be no disputing that result and politicians would be unwise to continue to ignore the voice of those who elected them into parliament,” said Mr Baldock.

ENDS

13 April 2007 – Ron Law: Section 59 for Dummies

http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL0704/S00205.htm
For better reading of the charts please go to this link above to read this opinion piece.

Ron Law: Section 59 for Dummies
Friday, 13 April 2007, 10:09 am
Opinion: Ron Law

Section 59 for Dummies: A Critique of Sue Bradford’s So-called ‘Anti-Smacking’ Bill

By Ron Law
Contrary to popular belief, Sue Bradford’s so-called ‘anti-smacking’ Bill has already been defeated by the parliamentary process.

Having been the recipient of numerous “anti ‘anti smacking’” or “anti ‘pro beat your kids’” emails I thought it prudent, as a risk & policy analyst, to look at what all the fuss was about so I could make an informed decision myself.

My first port of call was to the Parliament website to look at the Bill being debated and in Hansard, the transcripts of the debates. What I discovered surprised me and is quite odds with what is being debated in public through the media. On Campbell Live on Monday 2nd April, for example, the nation was told that the Bill before parliament was simply about the repeal of section 59 from the Crimes Act; but is it?

Section 59, one of forty-five defenses in the Crimes Act, is about domestic discipline and states;

s59 Domestic discipline
(1) Every parent of a child and, subject to subsection (3) of this section, every person in the place of the parent of a child is justified in using force by way of correction towards the child, if the force used is reasonable in the circumstances.

(2) The reasonableness of the force used is a question of fact.

(3) Nothing in subsection (1) of this section justifies the use of force towards a child in contravention of section 139A of the Education Act 1989.

Bradford’s short private member’s Bill simply proposed the abolishing of the above section 59. The “Crimes (Abolition of Force as a Justification for Child Discipline) Amendment Bill” passed its first reading in Parliament in 2005 and was referred to the Justice and Electoral Select Committee where over 1,700 submissions were received and in response the Bill was totally rewritten.

So what was changed in the Bill referred back to Parliament and now supposedly the subject of intense public debate? Well, actually, nearly everything; the beginning bit, the end bit, and most of the meat or tofu in the sandwich. The public appears to be debating the old version of the Bill that has already been rejected by parliament.

The Bill before parliament now will make it illegal for parents to smack (or use other reasonable force in the circumstances) in order to discipline or correct their child, but it will permit parents to smack their child for a variety of other reasons. So the Bill being debated is not anti-smacking at all… it doesn’t even shift the goal posts, it just turns the goal posts around! It replaces one excuse for smacking with another.

The Bill being debated in parliament now is compared to Sue Bradford’s original ‘anti-smacking’ Bill {{with comments in curly brackets}}.

Bradford’s Original Bill
Bill Being Debated By Parliament

Clause 1 Title

This Act is the Crimes (Abolition of Force as a Justification for Child Discipline) Amendment Act 2005.
This Act is the Crimes (Substituted Section 59) Amendment Act 2005.

{{Sue Bradford’s wording in the title “(Abolition of Force as a Justification for Child Discipline)” was struck out by the Select Committee and replaced with the words “(Substituted Section 59)”.}}

Clause 2 Commencement

This Act comes into force on the day after the date on which it receives the Royal assent.
{{No changes made.}}

Clause 2A Principal Act amended

This Act amends the Crimes Act 1961.
{{No changes made.}}

Clause 3 Purpose

The purpose of this Act is to amend the principal Act to abolish the use of reasonable force by parents as a justification for disciplining children.
The purpose of this Act is to amend the principal Act to make better provision for children to live in a safe and secure environment free from violence by abolishing the use of parental force for the purpose of correction.

{{Bradford’s wording “abolish the use of reasonable force by parents as a justification for disciplining children” was struck out by the select committee and replaced with “make better provision for children to live in a safe and secure environment free from violence by abolishing the use of parental force for the purpose of correction.”}}

Clause 4 Domestic discipline
Clause 4 New section 59 substituted

Section 59 is repealed.

Section 59 is repealed and the following section substituted:

59 Parental control

(1) Every parent of a child and every person in the place of a parent of the child is justified in using force if the force used is reasonable in the circumstances and is for the purpose of;

(a) preventing or minimising harm to the child or another person; or

(b) preventing the child from engaging or continuing to engage in conduct that amounts to a criminal offence; or

(c) preventing the child from engaging or continuing to engage in offensive or disruptive behaviour; or

(d) performing the normal daily tasks that are incidental to good care and parenting.

(2) Nothing in subsection (1) or in any rule of common law justifies the use of force for the purpose of correction.

(3) Subsection (2) prevails over subsection (1).

{{Bradford’s attempt to prohibit smacking to discipline children by repealing s59 was trumped by a substituted section that appears to allow smacking to control naughty children. The only other clause in the Bill is a technical matter and that was amended too.}}

One set of legal defense criteria needing interpretation by lawyers is to be replaced by another set of legal defense criteria also needing interpretation by lawyers. The new subsection 3 says subsection 2 prevails over subsection 1. So, if there is doubt over whether a parent’s smack or use of reasonable force was corrective or preventative or incidental to good care and parenting, the corrective interpretation must prevail. Does this mean that where there is doubt about the intent, the parent must be seen to be guilty of planning correction for the child so must be convicted. Reasonable doubt usually acquits but this Bill means that reasonable doubt might require a conviction. Is there legal precedent for that?

Now
Proposed

59 Domestic discipline

(1) Every parent of a child and, subject to subsection (3) of this section, every person in the place of the parent of a child is justified in using force by way of correction towards the child, if the force used is reasonable in the circumstances.

(2) The reasonableness of the force used is a question of fact.

(3) Nothing in subsection (1) of this section justifies the use of force towards a child in contravention of section 139A of the Education Act 1989.

59 Parental control

(1) Every parent of a child and every person in the place of a parent of the child is justified in using force if the force used is reasonable in the circumstances and is for the purpose of—

(a) preventing or minimising harm to the child or another person; or

(b) preventing the child from engaging or continuing to engage in conduct that amounts to a criminal offence; or

(c) preventing the child from engaging or continuing to engage in offensive or disruptive behaviour; or

(d) performing the normal daily tasks that are incidental to good care and parenting.

(2) Nothing in subsection (1) or in any rule of common law justifies the use of force for the purpose of correction.

(3) Subsection (2) prevails over subsection (1).

Both the current ‘bad’ section 59 and the new ‘good’ section 59 allow the use of force in relation to parenting that is “reasonable in the circumstances.”

In other words, if the Prime Minister is to be believed, the Bill, supported by the Government, will still permit parents to ‘thrash and beat’ their children… it’s just that they’ll have to learn how to do that with the goal posts turned around.

The difference is that, as the ‘bad’ law currently stands, force is only able to be used to discipline/correct children, whereas in the proposed ‘good’ law it will be perfectly legal to use force that is reasonable in the circumstances to protect them or to prevent them from being naughty. What is not clear is whether that includes preventing similar naughty behaviour in the future, surely the objective of discipline.

Now:

A smack on a naughty child’s bottom accompanied by the (corrective/discipline) words, “That’s for being naughty” is currently legal, but could soon be illegal.
Soon?:

A smack on a naughty child’s bottom accompanied by the (preventative and ‘incidental to good care and parenting’) words “stop being naughty” is currently illegal, but could soon be OK as that means that you are exercising good care and parenting skills by preventing naughty behaviour.

So, in the New World, Mum Bloggs, has a young child who is pulling items off the shelves, throwing them on the floor, and yelling for a big bag of lollies. Currently, in attempting to save face for herself and the child, she might say to the child, “If you don’t stop that naughty behaviour I will smack you when we get home.” The child continues being naughty, so Mum bites her lip, cuts short the shopping trip, takes the child home and ‘corrects/disciplines’ the child with a smack on the bottom. Soon it could be illegal to do that.

However, soon she will be able to say to the child in the supermarket, “I am going to smack you now to prevent you from engaging or continuing to engage in conduct that amounts to a criminal offence (eg; destruction of property),” and/or, “I am going to smack you to prevent you from engaging or continuing to engage in offensive or disruptive behaviour,” and/or “Given that 80 percent of New Zealanders believe that smacking is a tool that a normal parent should be able to use incidental to good care and parenting, I am about to perform a normal parenting task, called smacking, that is intended to stop you being naughty,” and smack the child there and then in the heat of the moment.

So, what’s changed? Well, nothing really, except mums and dads will now have to rehearse how they hold their tongue and what they say when they shame their child and themselves in public as a result of the child’s offensive or disruptive or criminal behaviour.

Of course, they could always reward their child’s offensive or disruptive behaviour and shut them up by giving them those obesity inducing lollies that the child wanted in the first place.

Discipline is a wider concept than physical punishment. Discipline involves the use of a variety of techniques or strategies with the aim of teaching the appropriate way to behave. Physical punishment is one discipline technique. Others include explanations, praise, role-modelling (showing by example), distraction (particularly for young children), withdrawal of treats or privileges and removing the child from the situation (‘time-out’). The use of force in any of these circumstances would now be illegal.

If you send your child to their room for time out for offensive or disruptive behaviour and they refuse, will it be reasonable in the circumstances to take hold of them and forcibly take them to their room? If not, then what protection does the Bill provide if someone then claimed that you had used force?

The defense team in court would argue that you legally used reasonable force in the circumstances to prevent offensive or disruptive behaviour; the prosecution would argue that you illegally used force to discipline or correct offensive or disruptive behaviour.

A question that society needs to address is, “should it be lawful in ANY circumstance to use ANY force (however that might be defined) to manage one’s child? If the answer is yes, then surely our parliamentarians should define what is/is not acceptable force.

Perhaps the Prime Minister addressed the core of the issue when, having bagged opponents of the Bill as people wanting to “thrash and beat” their children, she went on to say, “The issue is how to empower police so that they can get a conviction where someone is clearly beating a child.” I doubt that even the Prime Minister’s most bitter opponents would disagree with her on that. Let’s state that in the purpose of the Act.

Perhaps the Police aren’t the only ones requiring a Code of Practice; maybe Parents do too! Perhaps parents need guidelines as to what is acceptable/unacceptable force in given circumstances. Let’s say that the use of reasonable force excludes the use of things like belts, canes, hosepipes, jug cords, pieces of wood, horse crops and closed fists. Let’s say that the use of smacking with an open hand is/isn’t acceptable force ‘in the circumstances.’

There are two debates taking place. Parliament is debating one Bill, and the public is debating a Bill already archived in the history books. The fact is that the so-called ‘anti-smacking’ Bill does not repeal section 59 as believed. No one appears to win with the proposed changes; apart from lawyers. The proposed changes don’t even shift the goal posts. All they do is turn the goal posts around and create confusion.

*************
Ron Law – Risk & Policy Analyst, Juderon Associates (Juderon@gmail.com)

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