Helen Clark and Sue Bradford are trying to convince New Zealand that the repeal of Section 59 of the Crimes Act (aka the anti-smacking bill) is about preventing child abuse and perhaps secondarily about ‘sending a message’ to stop smacking because it is poor parenting. That’s the political spin, and it makes it pretty difficult to protest the changes. Let’s have a bit of a think here.

Is child abuse OK?

Of course not.

Does the law currently allow child abuse?

Absolutely not. It allows the use of “reasonable force”. That doesn’t sound like child abuse.

Is smacking OK?

Light smacking for correction seems morally OK – its completely different to child abuse and motivated for completely different reasons. It should be a parental choice.

Is there any way that ordinary people, judges or juries could be confused between smacking and child abuse, or whether child abuse is reasonable force?

This is where things get interesting. The cry of those on the left is: Yes! Section 59 is being used as a defence for child abusers because they are able to argue that their force was “reasonable”.

One of their prime examples is of a Christian woman who punished her son with a ‘horse whip’. That’s the version we hear on the radio. But if we look a little closer, the ‘whip’ was actually a short riding crop, and the boy had attempted to smash his stepfather in the head with a baseball bat. This was not child abuse, it was sorely needed corrective discipline. In fact, the incident with the ‘whip’ was discovered after the school asked about the improvement in the boy’s behaviour!

So this wasn’t a failure of Section 59. It was a triumph of, firstly, parental discipline, and secondly, the New Zealand justice system, which managed, as usual, to find the correct verdict based on the evidence. The reality is the complete opposite of the political spin of Bradford and Co.

I don’t think the current Section 59 is nearly as flawed as Sue Bradford thinks it is, and I’m very worried that the effect of the law change will be to make parents who choose to smack into criminals. That’s the opinion of National’s Chester Burrows:

This whole debate is about whether or not parents who smack should be prosecuted. It’s not about whether smacking works.

I remember being smacked a few times as a child, and hating it, and thinking that when I grew up I would never smack my kids, I would be understanding instead. And I’m going to try to stick to that. But I also know that my parents love me, and they smacked me for the right reasons.

Nowadays, I know people with young kids, and I know that kids aren’t rational like adults, and sometimes, rarely, parents might choose a reasonable bit of loving smacking as discipline. And afterwards they will hug their kids and tell them how much they love them and how much they hate smacking them. We need more parents like that, not less.

That’s why I’m going to be part of the march on Parliament on March 28, organised by my good friend Mitch Lees. See smackingback.blogspot.com for more details and other places that are organising marches.

11 Responses to “Smacking: Right or Wrong?”

“parents might choose a reasonable bit of loving smacking as discipline. And afterwards they will hug their kids and tell them how much they love them and how much they hate smacking them. We need more parents like that, not less”.

Is that satire? kiwi herald does it better. Read http://jtc.blogs.com — section 59 madness comments by Paul. Smacking children is contemtible and disgusting. Defending it under the aegis of ‘freedom’ is even worse.

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Alec, I think you’re confused. It is child abuse which is contemptible and disgusting – not smacking.

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I’ll be less diplomatic than Luke. Alec’s comment, that typical parents are “contemptible and disgusting”, is itself contemptible. And disgusting. As for Paul’s comments, they are retarded. He shows no respect for freedom at all.

Young children do not have well-developed reasoning abilities. Thus, the rights that apply to adults do not apply to children. To a certain extent, parents have free rein over their kids, and less state control in family life is vastly preferable to the idea that based on one complaint the state could confiscate someone’s child. Even for the minority of people who aren’t good parents, the child is probably better off with them than in a succession of foster homes. Intervention from the state should only be allowed when the child is in real danger, and I don’t mean in danger of a light smack.

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[...] More Smacking… 24Mar07 Pacific Empire has a good summary of the smacking debate, and makes a point I’ve been making for some months. One of their prime examples is of a Christian woman who punished her son with a ‘horse whip’. That’s the version we hear on the radio. But if we look a little closer, the ‘whip’ was actually a short riding crop, and the boy had attempted to smash his stepfather in the head with a baseball bat. This was not child abuse, it was sorely needed corrective discipline. In fact, the incident with the ‘whip’ was discovered after the school asked about the improvement in the boy’s behaviour! [...]

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[...] Smacking: Right or Wrong? [...]

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Hi there,
You might like to take a look at two pro-smacking poems. I’ve included the links.

http://www.poetrywithamission.co.nz/poems9ah%20-%20A%20Time%20And%20Place.htm

http://www.poetrywithamission.co.nz/poems9aq%20-%20And%20So%20It%20Goes.htm

regards,
Lance Landall

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[...] On Wednesday 28 March, after a mere 2 weeks of planning, a diverse group of people gathered in Wellington’s Civic Square to protest the repeal of Section 59 of the Crimes Act, otherwise known as the anti-smacking bill. The left-wing spin is that Bradford’s Bill is about preventing child abuse and perhaps secondarily about ’sending a message’ to stop using excessive physical force against children because it is poor parenting. However, the minor changes needed to clarify ‘reasonable force’ are apparently beyond politicians in New Zealand’s current Parliament, and so we have ended up with a muddled bill which, according to both the police and Bradford herself, makes parents who choose to smack into criminals. It seems the politicos just couldn’t resist the opportunity to extend the long arm of the state into ordinary homes in an attempt to nationalise New Zealand’s children. [...]

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here’s a resource to help u`s get it sorted in your head on how to use force.

enjoy

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uDROJIDCkNk

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im 13 and what is the differenmce between using force and child abuse? well i can tell you for a fact there is no difference between these two

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im 13 and what is the difference between using force and child abuse? well i can tell you for a fact there is no difference between these two

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Hi there,
I grew up in the different country,I used to get a smack for disobedience. Now when I’m a mother I realise, how hard to be a good parent to your kids. No parent ever wants their children to end up in jail or on the street. That’s why we have to discipline our children, lead them to the right pathway,other wise their life will be in a mess. I love my children so much, and there is a different between discipline and child abuse. If you smack your kid because your angry at something or someone else, thats abuse.This law is giving our children a freedom to do what ever they want. I was watching one mother and her daughter in the supermarket, the little girl was swearing hard out to her mum, throwing staff out from the trolley, the eggs was smashed, and the poor mother did nothing but picking all the staff up. It’s terrible and we need to do something about this law.

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