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NZ Herald: Child-beater regrets actions, supports anti-smacking bill.

Posted by watchingcyfswatchnewzealand on May 4, 2007

As posted on CYFSWATCH NZ

NZ Herald: Child-beater regrets actions, supports anti-smacking bill.
Friday, 04.05.2007, 07:41am (GMT12)

Child-beater regrets actions, supports anti-smacking bill

5:00AM Friday May 04, 2007
By Juliet Rowan 

A Hastings woman who beat her son with a wooden spoon says she regrets her actions and supports the new anti-smacking bill.

“Every time I think about it, I think, ‘I’m a real pig’,” she says. “There’s no excuse for it. Our children don’t deserve it, especially my son.”

The woman, whose name is suppressed, was sentenced in the Napier District Court yesterday for the assault on her 7-year-old whangai (adopted) son.

She received 100 hours’ community work and nine months’ supervision, and was ordered to undergo any courses recommended by her probation officer.

She said she was filled with guilt over the beating that left the boy with welts on his arms and back still visible six days later.

“I was quite prepared to go to jail and I wouldn’t have been angry to go there,” the 44-year-old said. “There’s no reason justifying hurting your child because it’s life-long.”

The woman, who no longer has custody of the boy and has two previous convictions for similar offences relating to her daughter in 1992, said she supported the anti-smacking bill because she had never liked smacking.

“I can still remember my brothers and sisters being smacked and I cringe at the thought. I don’t want my son cringing when he’s my age. I don’t want my grandchildren smacked. Crikey, take responsibility.”

Now a grandmother of five, the woman said times had changed since she was a child and, with the help of counselling from Parentline, she had learned “a jolly good lesson” about appropriate disciplining.

“I’ve learnt the child’s point of view. I’ve put myself in his shoes and then I’ve cast myself back to when I was a child. I was afraid of smacks.”

The case came to police attention after the woman’s son told his teacher about the beating, and the teacher notified CYF.

The woman hit the boy on his palms and inside both arms with a wooden spoon, leaving 4cm welts before her husband intervened. She also yelled and swore at the boy during the attack, later telling police she had snapped because she had “taken on too much”.

The sole breadwinner for the family, she had worked until 6am that morning and got angry when she woke a couple of hours later to find her son not ready to go to his Saturday morning ball game.

Her lawyer, Trent Petherick, said the woman was a victim of violence, having been assaulted many times by her husband in the course of their 18-year marriage.

“She’s determined to break the cycle of violence and learn new ways,” Mr Petherick said.

Judge Bridget Mackintosh accepted the woman’s remorse and praised her actions in undertaking counselling since the November assault but condemned the incident.

“You really had no reason to hit the child that way. It’s totally unacceptable … Basically, what it amounts to is an abuse of power in the household,” the judge said.

The woman’s case became a political football after National MP Chester Borrows heralded it as proof that the present law forbidding assaults on children worked.

He said it showed the Crimes Act – and section 59, which permits reasonable force in the right circumstances – rightfully caught out parents who assaulted their children.

But Green MP Sue Bradford, the originator of the new bill set to pass on May 16, said she had never held the position that the present law failed in every case but still had a fundamental objection to the defence of reasonable force.


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