Tuesday, March 13, 2007

anti-smacking legislation

I sent the following email to my local MP, to Sue Bradford and to the political parties I am most likely to vote for in the next election. (For my many readers from outside New Zealand, our Parliament is voting this week on a piece of legislation that would make the act of parent smacking a child a criminal offence.)

In no way do I condone the unacceptably high levels of violence shown to children in New Zealand society. However the legislation as it stands seems to me to be a blunt instrument and a poor response.

The Bill is said to protect children against violence. However I very much doubt that those who have murdered children in New Zealand recently, and thus face a life of imprisonment, would be deterred by the introduction of this bill. Surely we should be focusing our attention on the underlying issues of parenting help, financial stress and anger management, rather than on legislation, which is only helpful after the event, and I doubt would have done anything to deter the recent deaths of children.

Further, the Act places the Police as those who action the Bill. It raises the possibility of Police wasting time exploring vindicative claims made when relationships break up. Such would be a waste of Police resources, and would, I believe, be an inevitable outcome of this Bill.

Thirdly, I understand that Helen Clark, Clayton Cosgrove and Ruth Dyson have said that putting a child into time-out (for corrective purposes) would be in breach of the Anti-Smacking Law. Time out is a surely a parenting option that should be encouraged, not legislated against. I would urge that this matter be considered and that timeout be allowed as a parenting option.

Fourthly, I am concerned about the impact of the Bill on the current lowering of behaviour standards in our society. We live in an time when children are increasingly disrespectful of authority and I worry that in an effort to stop a small number of high-profile murders, the Bill might in fact make the task of teaching and parenting even more difficult.

I in no way condone murder of children and I remain uneasy about smacking as a parenting option. However I am unconvinced that the Anti-Smacking Bill will be a helpful piece of legislation as we serve to make New Zealand a better place for our children,

I would ask you to consider these issues as the Law goes before Parliament,

Posted by steve at 05:25 PM


  1. Well said (written?)

    It feels to me that a law that would ‘technically make innocent people guilty but don’t worry cos we won’t prosecute’ is not a good law.

    I was asked at work the other day “So what is the official position of ‘the church’ on smacking?”


    Comment by Randall — March 13, 2007 @ 5:31 pm

  2. I had a big “argument” with my boss today about this. I’m against the bill, he’s all for it. He thinks smacking is violence, I disagree, and that’s essentially what the argument boils down to. I said I’d change my mind if they could actually prove that smacking was detrimental to a child in the long term.

    I don’t know “the churches” position, but Proverbs 13 in particular verse 24 promotes physical discipline.

    Comment by Andrew Brown — March 13, 2007 @ 5:46 pm

  3. I too wrote a letter to Sue Bradford, mine was considerably shorter..

    “Dear Sue
    I was under the impression this was a Democracy
    Regards, Andrew Brown”

    Comment by Andrew Brown — March 13, 2007 @ 5:47 pm

  4. Well Andrew, I think the church needs to do a whole lot better than chucking one verse from Proverbs into the mix. Proverbs was a particular type of literature and a Biblical response needs to honour the biblical literature.

    Comment by steve@emergentkiwi.org.nz — March 13, 2007 @ 5:55 pm

  5. Steve

    Great letter, glad you wrote, I haven’t this time which is a bit remiss of me. on the topic had a interesting discussion over the weekend on the topic. The guy was a Christian and was wondering if this smacking deal/justification was basically cultural and not biblical. I was impressed by his wanting to question cultural ideas and try to sort out if they are truly Christian or not. It was a very refreshing and a pleasure to discuss.

    What I have heard from others (sorry don’t know the source anymore) and have formulated into this statement.

    That punishment is done out of anger and frustration. Punishment can involve yelling, emotional manipulation, hitting, spanking, time out etc etc.

    That disciple is done out of love and understanding. Disciple can involve telling off, spanking, time out etc etc.

    Basically it is an attitude of the heart. And clearly if you are disciplining you would not do anything that would cause to cause major harm, hence emotional manipulation and hitting/beating are out of the question.

    So from the outside sometimes it can be difficult to deceirn the different between the two. Hence this legislation is on very thin ice! (amount other reasons and your letter points out!).

    Personally from my growing up I saw a lot of punishment done to kids in the Christian community. And I think that some significant introspection about why we don’t like this legislation would be helpful amount the Christian community. Is it because we spank our children out of anger, which I saw a lot of. Or is it because we love our children and choose to use this method occasionally to discipline them? (Even if we are mis using spanking in the Christian community I still don’t agree with the legislation). This debate has wide ranging implications for example how we as fathers are training our children to see God. It has taken me a very long time to realize that God is not an angry and vengeful God (though he can be). He is the loving kind steward who loves on us, and truly cares for me.

    I think most of us in our lives have been both punished and disciplined. It is the punishment that people, including myself find traumatic. Weather it be hitting or yelling – personally I find the voice based punishments much more scaring than the hitting ones. Therefore time out could be very tramatic if done out of anger.

    I would like to say that I parent my three young daughters well, and it is all about discipline. However I am very aware that I visit the sins of my fathers onto my children and there is quite a bit of angry/punishment (mainly yelling) that flows in out house. I take heart that least I see it and working to change it. Hopefully the cycle will be broken

    Thanks for writing Steve


    PS I tried a number of times to post a reply to you question regarding pain a while back after a nasty letter. However they system always crashed on me. So apologies I did try and answer it.

    Comment by david — March 13, 2007 @ 7:48 pm

  6. Thanks for a well-reasoned response to the issue … apparently we’re facing similar legislation in California (surprise, surprise!).

    Comment by Maria — March 14, 2007 @ 3:53 am

  7. I actually DO think that physical discipline is violence and I DO NOT agree with using a few poem verses to condone this violence and even for churches to take a position from the pulpit about it.

    I also believe that other forms of punishment can be violence and even abusive even when not using force – berating and screaming, insulting and terrorizing for example.

    However, I’m not sure I’m comfortable with laws of this sort esp. if they do not include rational and reasonable alternatives and parenting education plans. There are countries that do this pretty well and their children do not run amok.

    I wouldn’t be opposed to similar laws as long as the penalty for physical punishment was more along the lines of discipline education and parenting assistance all in a positive and grace filled environment. I would also expect to see more of a “3 strikes” type system so that one little swat (while still bad IMO) was not met with charges leveled.

    Comment by Ari — March 14, 2007 @ 6:18 am

  8. I had an interesting converstaion with a former court secretary the other day who suggested that the current law was mor ethan adequate and in fact did largely what Bradford wants to do – in protecting minors. So why change it… becuase the issues seem to me relate to social and parenting issues rather than what is appropriate discipline

    Comment by Michael — March 14, 2007 @ 9:24 am

  9. Steve said: Well Andrew, I think the church needs to do a whole lot better than chucking one verse from Proverbs into the mix. Proverbs was a particular type of literature and a Biblical response needs to honour the biblical literature.

    Personally, the church, as “the church” shouldn’t get involved, it’s a political issue, something the church has no place to get involved in. The individuals that make up the church on the other hand…

    There’s barely any scripture that deals with it so it’s pretty hard from a biblical point of view what to do, so any opinion, expressed from a christian or not, is a matter of personal opinion and belief. I personally don’t think it’s violence, some people do.

    Comment by Andrew Brown — March 14, 2007 @ 12:06 pm

  10. Steve – great letter, and I especially appreciate this part:
    “Surely we should be focusing our attention on the underlying issues of parenting help, financial stress and anger management, rather than on legislation, which is only helpful after the event…”
    In the UK at present, politicians are talking a lot about legislating that fathers spend time with their children, rather than opening up conversations that help us address some underlying issues. I think forcing fathers who don’t want to spend time with their children to do so is not going to be a positive experience for those children. Legislation won’t foster attitude changes within the family…

    Andrew Brown – “He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.” Proverbs 13:24
    This verse does not promote physical discipline. The rod in question is the shepherd’s rod – the same rod found in Psalm 23. Shepherds did not hit the sheep in their care. They used the rod, gently but firmly against the flank of the animal, to steer wayward sheep in danger of walking off the edge of the cliff back onto the path up the mountainside. Shepherds in the Middle East still do the same today. Applying the illustration of Proverbs 13:24, we can say, if you let your child do whatever they want, if you don’t set and enforce safe boundaries, you aren’t acting in love. We see this clearly in the stark rise in childhood obesity in the west, where parents can’t say ‘no’ to their children. Proverbs 13:24 is wisdom for today – but it suffers from poor exegesis within many Church traditions, and has been rejected by society because of that…

    Incidently, in the case of ‘repeat offenders,’ shepherds would break the sheep’s leg, and carry it on their shoulders until the leg healed (as in Jesus’ parable of the lost sheep). By that time, the sheep was unlikely to stray again. I hope most Christians would not advocate breaking their children’s bones, but the principle of severely restricting freedom of movement for a period may be expressed in time out for younger children, or grounding teenagers.

    I think I would share Steve’s position of being uneasy about smacking as a parenting option. I’m not convinced it is universally and categorically wrong (as legislation declares it), but I’m also aware that on the occasions when i have smacked my own children, a need to vent my own frustration has been too big a factor.

    Comment by Andrew Dowsett — March 14, 2007 @ 12:07 pm

  11. I’ve actually heard that the whole breaking the legs thing is a myth. Regardless…anything the bible says about it requires a fair amt of personal interpretation either way (I doubt anyone normal hits their kids with shepherd rods *IF you take that literally anyway) and since I know for a fact that healthy, obedient, respectful and well adjusted kids can be raised without physical punishment and that physical punishment can have horrible far reaching effects, I’d rather parent without it…and we do 🙂

    Comment by Ari — March 14, 2007 @ 1:43 pm

  12. Ari and others,
    Can we make comments on parenting in general based upon the unique situation of our own parenting?

    The main advocate of this bill, Sue Bradford has children and says she never smacked them.

    Yet there are so many variables in parenting and children are so different. Hence my question; “Can we make comments on parenting in general based upon the unique situation of our own parenting?”


    Comment by steve@emergentkiwi.org.nz — March 14, 2007 @ 1:48 pm

  13. ari said physical punishment can have horrible far reaching effects

    I’d appreciate if you could tell me what these far reaching effects are.

    Comment by Andrew Brown — March 14, 2007 @ 6:08 pm

  14. When I studied Criminal Law (probably about 10 years ago now!) I was shocked at the cases where (mainly) step-parents relied on the s59 defence and what was defined as reasonable force on a child. I remember one case (unfortunately the case notes have long since hit the recycling bin and my memory may not be entirely correct) where the child had been beaten several times with an electric cord around the head. His injuries required stitches and he was left partially deaf. The jury found the step-parent not guilty of assault on the grounds that it was reasonable force in the circumstances. The circumstances were that the child had been provoking the adult for some time and the adult had eventually “snapped”. Think of this child then, who after been abused by his caregiver, serious enough for a hospital to get CYPs and the police involved. The police looking at the evidence had agreed to prosecute the caregiver for assault. The child would have been required to give evidence in a court against his caregiver. Then the not guilty verdict. Will that child have much respect for authority or our justice system? It would be ok if this case represented that of a rogue jury and a “one off”. Unfortunately, it wasn”t. There was case after case where abusers who had committed abuse we would find abhorrent were found not guilty of assault because of the section 59 defence. Clever defence lawyers are able to convince juries “what parent hasn’t snapped when provoked?”.

    NZ is scarily high in the child abuse statistics – remember this is not just about those children who are murdered (and every one is one too many), but who on a daily basis are “punished” by what most of us would consider unreasonable force. Those children who are murdered have often suffered weeks, months, years worth of abuse before the actual murder.

    So, I believe the law needs to be changed. The debate should be how then should we change it? How prescriptive do we need to be about what constitutes reasonable force. I do seem to have more faith than most people in the police to be able to decide these matters. Assault happens all the time where there is no legal defence, and yet prosecution does not take place – on a rugby field is an obvious example. Placing a child in timeout is not going to be a criminal offence. But then dragging them there in such a way that they dislocate their shoulder or break their arm should be. That is why it is very hard to prescribe it, and common sense should prevail. Remember this section is only a defence to criminal assault. Police are only going to bring assault charges when they have enough physical evidence to prosecute, proving (beyond reasonable doubt) physical harm to a child.

    What this change to the legislation will do, just as the prohibition against corporal punishment in schools did some years ago, is force caregivers to think of different ways to discipline children without immediately reacting physically to an emotional situation. Think back even many years before that, when domestic violence against women was commonplace and condoned by society and not prosecuted by the police. It does seem we need law changes to change societal attitudes to afford its most vulnerable citizens the protection they deserve.

    Anything that makes people think twice about using violence to solve a problem is surely good for our society as a whole. This will not make criminals of all parents, but give the police the ability to prosecute those abusers of the crime of assault that are worthy of it, without worrying about them relying on a bogus defence.

    Comment by Jan — March 14, 2007 @ 7:03 pm

  15. Hi Jan! (We’re working on Sunday – promise!)

    I have to ask:

    “What this change to the legislation will do, just as the prohibition against corporal punishment in schools did some years ago, is force caregivers to think of different ways to discipline children without immediately reacting physically to an emotional situation. ”

    I can’t see that this is true. But I appreciate you have direct experience in this and I don’t having worked in the justice system – but i can’t believe that the same people who assaulted this young child so terribly would even care that the law had changed

    Did they know about section 59 before the assault or did they just get their lawyers advice to use it as a defence after they were caught?

    Steve – to answer your question as a perfect parent of zero kids – yes and no. I believe No you can’t strictly extrapolate if the only experience you have is your own – BUT if marriage is anything to go by you do gain some insight into marriage when you get married – just not other peoples marriages necessarily unless you have unlikely comparable experiences

    Andrew Brown: I can’t speak for Ari – but I was physically disciplined (and yes discipline – not abuse) as a child by a parent who was not happy. I believe it had a detrimental affect on me and the relationship I have with that parent. it has taken some years to get over – we now share a very special relationship – but both of us would rather it hadn’t happened.

    Comment by Randall — March 15, 2007 @ 10:23 am

  16. Andre Brown,

    I loved your short letter to Sue Bradford!! After seeing the massive disparity between this Bill, and what seems to be overwhelming puclic opinion i found myslef asking the same question.

    Once again the government has taken it upon it’s shoulders . . .

    Comment by phil_style — March 15, 2007 @ 10:35 am

  17. Well Phil, to present another opinion (democratic of course, so all opinions allowed on this blog!) I thought Andrew’s letter was appalling.

    New Zealand is a democracy because
    a) he can send an email without being arrested
    b) the Bill has to go through Parliamentry process
    c) if the bill is passed, Andrew can choose to break the law and know that he will have due process through court, without being physically assaulted 🙂 at all.

    Certainly I am disappointed that the Labour party has not made this a conscience vote, and I think that works against democracy. But Sue Bradford is not in Labour.

    Andrew’s letter seemed to do nothing to address the issues around the Bill or attempt to persuade Sue.

    That’s my opinion and I await further web correspondence with interest, 🙂


    Comment by steve@emergentkiwi.org.nz — March 15, 2007 @ 10:47 am

  18. Jan,
    very helpful perspective and great to have such legal clarity on this blog.

    I am still unconvinced that legislation like this would have stopped any of those murders. yes, it would allow justice to be done, but that is after the fact. Hence my letter, requesting we focus our energies on stopping child-abuse rather than prosecuting all parents.


    Comment by steve@emergentkiwi.org.nz — March 15, 2007 @ 10:51 am

  19. Those things do not define a democracy. The first is due to our right to free speech and the third due to our right to not be harmed, both put forward in the Bill of Rights Act of 1989, and have nothing to do with being in a democracy. Parlimentary Process is not inherently an aspect of democracy either.

    The reason I say that, is because it’s a failure of the system when a system based on majority vote for the benefit of the public fails to do what the majority of the public want. While my letter accuses this country of failing to be a democracy (which I did to make a quick point) the problem I see here is that democracy in this country is failing to achieve it’s purpose.

    I was trying to point out to Sue, which others have done to, that she is pushing forward legislation that the public does not want. It does not matter what the bill was for, if she is acting despite the publics desire (75%-85% depending on what stats you look at, in this instance) then she is acting wrong

    Comment by Andrew Brown — March 15, 2007 @ 12:46 pm

  20. Personally I am opposed to smacking children even though I have resorted on a couple of occasions to a tap on the hand when a deliberately stubborn toddler refused to leave the power points alone.
    I am lucky though and have four children who enjoy hobbies such as dance and sport and the deprivation of things they enjoy and time out seems to work well for us.
    That been said I am very concerned at the amount of hysteria this has created against parents that have chosen this particular avenue especially Simon Barnett who publicly spoke out against the bill the other day and was met with a militant backlash.
    Another worry I have is that false allegations will be made against parents by rebellious teenagers, or people with a personal vendetta against a couple as has happened many times before and this will in turn create enourmas problems for the police and CYFS taking away resources that are desperately needed by at risk children and families.
    As a child I found that physical discipline created resentment and fear directed at the person metering it out, but far worse things can occur such as the verbal and psychological abuse parents can inflict on children and which has life time consequences on young peoples self esteem and the value they place on others.
    I hope any guide lines put in place will be reasonable and restrained as an influx of complaints against good parents will not reduce the problems New Zealand has with child abuse.

    Comment by Paula Weir — March 15, 2007 @ 1:00 pm

  21. I think there are a range of good arguments against smacking which aren’t being examined here.

    Firstly, the philosophical arguments against smacking are quite important. That is, if is wrong to physically punish adults, it must also be wrong to physically punish children. If this is not true, at what point does the transition come between adult and child? 10? 13? 16? 18? And if there is a distinction, perhaps that children are unable to reason, then is it also okay to physically punish intellectually disabled adults?

    Secondly, there is a wealth of evidence from the field of psychology that indicates that persons who are subjected to physical discipline have an elevated risk of a wide range of problems. For example, being far more likely to be either a victim or perpetrator of violence in adult life.

    Thirdly, as a parent, I would think your aim would be to instil a sense of morality in your child, rather than a simple pain responce.

    Finally, whether or not the bill has the ability to prevent child abuse is beside the point, to an extent. Bills which are passed against murder, for example, don’t actually prevent murder but we pass them anyway because we believe that murder is categorically wrong. Thus, if you happen to think smacking is philosophically wrong, then I imagine you would want it legislated against.

    Comment by Sharyn — March 15, 2007 @ 1:30 pm

  22. Good come back Andrew. My response would be surely this is a sign of a good democracy when a minority party can propose a bill and might see it gain the vote. Under our 2 party 1st past the post system, Sue Bradford and Greens would never have done this. Secondly that there are many countries where your right to speech would not be alowed and that those countries are more likely not to be democracies.

    Sharyn. Good points. What do you do with the research that shows that time out is also pyschologically harmful to children?

    This is a great discussion people – thanks to each of you for being constructive and playing the arguments not the people.

    Comment by steve@emergentkiwi.org.nz — March 15, 2007 @ 1:58 pm

  23. Sharyn, this page makes a bunch of claims contradicting yours…

    But also, I just read this thing which outlines which is ok and which isn’t, and under this, parents can still smack kids, so, maybe, what’s the difference?

    Comment by Andrew Brown — March 15, 2007 @ 2:23 pm

  24. Hmmmm well I myself haven’t seen any evidence that time out is harmful so I’ve never considered it. I suppose I would hold the position that if a punishment could be shown to be psychologically harmful (rather than simply uncomfortable) then it’s probably inapropriate to use.

    Comment by Sharyn — March 15, 2007 @ 2:25 pm

  25. Perhaps, Andrew, you should consider getting information from a more reliable source than the internet and, specificly, a media outlet.

    Comment by Sharyn — March 15, 2007 @ 2:33 pm

  26. I’d be interested if you could link me to some evidence that smacking causes psychological problems, I want to read this stuff for myself. I personally feel that physical disclipline is far far better than any form of psychological discipline.

    I’m also sure a lack of discipline is worse psychologically for a child than anything, yet that would remain legal under any anti-smacking law.

    Comment by Andrew Brown — March 15, 2007 @ 2:33 pm

  27. Sharyn wrote: “Perhaps, Andrew, you should consider getting information from a more reliable source than the internet and, specificly, a media outlet.”


    an important point to make …. drum roll …. on that most reliable of all internet sources – a blog :).

    Comment by steve@emergentkiwi.org.nz — March 15, 2007 @ 2:42 pm

  28. Sharyn, sometimes I feel that if you saw me at the mall (maybe lining up at Hoyts Riccarton..) you’d probably want to punch me

    Comment by Andrew Brown — March 15, 2007 @ 3:02 pm

  29. Lol yes, that is correct. And you should really watch out, because, you know, I’m no pacifist.

    Okay – if you must find information on the internet go to http://www.googlescholar.com and type psychology AND corporal punishment into the search engine. This will bring up a very long list of articles – which, unfortunately, you can’t actually access.

    If you’re really keen you have two options:

    a. Subscribe to a database such as ProQuest or Web of Science, which will give you access to 99% of the articles. Or

    b. Go to the library (probably Uni of Canterbury) and physically access the paper copies of the journals you have found articles in.

    It’s tough getting informed – would make an interesting sociolgical study: why acadamic information is so hard to come by.

    Comment by Sharyn — March 15, 2007 @ 3:30 pm

  30. Well it that’s your fear Andrew, then it’s lucky for you, that there are laws passed to prevent violence among adults. Such laws have, of course, made our society so much safer. yeah right!

    Which of course, might have some links to this thread.

    Comment by steve@emergentkiwi.org.nz — March 15, 2007 @ 3:41 pm

  31. I think it’s a really important point. Most of the arguments AGAINST the bill that I’ve heard have centred around this very point.

    But, as I said before, I don’t see the point. We have legislation against things that we think are wrong, regardless of whether people obey the law or not.

    We do this so that we can prevent people from offending over and over again.

    We do it so we can punish people when they DO do it (although, no smacking…).

    We do it because when something is illegal we come to think of it as wrong – we begin to associate the two together. Just as, when we legalise something, for example, prostitution, we implicitly say that it’s okay, that it’s good.

    Comment by Sharyn — March 15, 2007 @ 3:57 pm

  32. Against Sharyn, laws don’t protect me from the act of violence, just make it illegal. I need a bodyguard!

    Comment by Andrew Brown — March 15, 2007 @ 4:00 pm

  33. Sharyn says We do it because when something is illegal we come to think of it as wrong – we begin to associate the two together. Just as, when we legalise something, for example, prostitution, we implicitly say that it’s okay, that it’s good.

    I don’t think that’s quite right. A lot of people don’t think smacking, or prostitution are “good”, and it’s unfortunate that any person draws their morality from the law, as it prevents consenting adults from making decision regarding themselves like with prostitution and drugs, because the law has decided for them.

    It is NOT the governments role to say what is morally right or wrong, just to make laws to protect citizens from other. If an adult wants to make a decision regarding himself he/she shouldn’t have to worry about the law.

    Comment by Andrew Brown — March 15, 2007 @ 4:54 pm

  34. I agree with Sharyn: firstly, laws are brought in so that we as a society say this is wrong and should be sanctioned. Wouldn’t it be great if that was enough to stop those actions? Secondly, laws do go some way to promoting attitude change in our society, and in this respect our politicians are elected to lead us, not necessarily follow us. For example, when the legislation allowing women the vote was passed in Parliament, polls of the voting (male) public showed a majority against it. But the politicians voted for it. Much of our human rights legislation has been formed in this way. And over time, society’s attitudes changed and the fears expressed over what might happen (usually the moral fibre of society ripping apart causing anarchy, or something similar) were proved wrong.
    With respect to the actual smacking debate, just as we are all created different, so there are many different parenting styles and we should not arbitrate one right way. However, society does need to protect the most vulnerable. This law change is less about ways of parenting, rather lifting the minimum standard of how we should treat each other. I truly disagree with the view about this making all parents criminals. It simply will not happen. Parents will still smack their children (although hopefully most parents will think very hard about whether this is the right action in the circumstances before doing so), put their children in time out and confiscate computer games when they see fit and not suffer a police prosecution for doing so. But if this section is repealed, if a child is abused by a caregiver or parent, then we as a society have the mandate to say not good enough, and hopefully restore some respect for the child involved.

    Rebellious teenagers (and others) make spurious claims about other things other than just child abuse – and police make judgments all the time about whether to follow it through. Again, the police need to prove beyond reasonable doubt that this action happened, so they are not going to bring prosecutions unless they have firm evidence that a crime has been committed. Then again teenagers and children have failed to report abuse because they know they will not be believed and it is really important that as a society we do say that violence of any kind whether it is in the home or out is not ok and we will not tolerate it.

    Comment by Jan — March 15, 2007 @ 5:05 pm

  35. Personally I can’t believe how deceived everyone is on this matter. This is nothing short of Communism at work in our free society and nothing to do with child abuse. It has everything to do with further destabilising the family unit, i.e. Mum & Dad (biological)and pitting father against son and mother against daughter. Legislation will NOT stop child abuse it won’t even stop those who commit abuse ( not discipline!) from acting as before and I’m sick of hearing all these know all pious liars when it comes to whether or not they think it right or not.
    The fact is parentship is a privilege, a God given privilege and for those who have any Christian belief you will know that even though God is a loving God he will also punish those who disregard His law.
    What! even God will punish, who are we to mock His instruction. Read 2 Timothy 3 vs 1 – 5. In the last days People will be lovers of themselves, ‘disobedient to parents’! Obviously Sue Bradford has no idea what good parenting is really about. May God have mercy on all who are disobedient to Him!.

    Comment by Bev — March 15, 2007 @ 10:38 pm

  36. Bev,

    By calling this proposed legislation “nothing short of communism” was, I hope, hyperbole. I certainly wouldn’t go that far.


    I think the heart of the matetr is relating to how society views the definition of “violence” and who we allow to use violence. It seems the application of non-consentual physical stimuli is now to be caleld ‘violence’, and is therefore illegal.

    As of now, the only group in society that still has the right to use violence is the government, through the police and the military. In that respect this legislation has further enhanced the state’s monopoly on violence.

    Can we trust that the state knows when to use it? Who’s to say that parents are not capable of the reasonable application of physical force to restrain or correct a person, in the same way as the state can?

    Is there any evidence to suggest that the opportunity cost (social/economic/cultural) of not applying physical force might outwiegh the cost of applying it? With this said, I would recommend that people read “Crime and Punishment” which makes some very compassinoate points about the use of phycial punishment and discusses the nature of immediate correction/reproof versus delayed action. Perhaps in some instances, an immediate, forceful response is a compassionate and perhaps even natural form of justice.

    Comment by phil_style — March 16, 2007 @ 8:48 am

  37. bev
    you have driven by, all your bible guns blazing. you have shot out words like commumist; deceieved; disobedient. i trust you felt better as we all dived for cover.

    slowly we poke our heads back up.

    will you come back? will you tell us why this is communism? will you tell us if the God revealed in the New Testament is different from the punishing God revealed in the Old Testament? will you tell us what you think we should do about the death of children in NZ? will you tell us why you consider smacking is the only punishment option for parents today? will you tell us why we are in the last days? will you tell us on what basis you have decided that sue bradford is not a good parent?

    so many questions. we hope you come back Bev.


    Comment by steve@emergentkiwi.org.nz — March 16, 2007 @ 10:11 am

  38. Personally, I feel a strong urge to do something about our Government that appears to bully their MP’s to pass communist laws like this. Does anyone really beleive it will stop the real offenders. It is not about making a law, its about education. Instead, we will use up our precious resources like Police on calls made becasue someone may have a grudge. I smack my child on the hand when he puts his fingers to close to the fire, plug etc to protect him. If we do not have some form of discipline I hate to think what the next generation will turn out like. My biggest question here though is, why do New Zealand people sit back and take it? My understanding is the majority of New Zealanders do not want this law passed yet I do not see them doing anything about it? I want to stop it but I don’t know how – what can I do?

    Comment by Kat — March 16, 2007 @ 7:42 pm

  39. Regardless of what happens with this Bill, I feel that New Zealand as a society is failing parents raising young families.
    Parents theses days are under huge financial pressure, and with the break up of many marriages in the last few decades young people have not had strong secure parental role models on which to model their own parenting. New Zealanders appear at the moment to be quick to hypocritically judge other parents discipline methods when their own parenting often falls or fell well below the standard they speak of.
    Many young families do not have the support of extended family as was common in bygone days, and so they can not rely on the love and care of grandparents who would normally have paid a pivitol role in the upbringing of youngsters.
    Parenting is the most important role in the world yet full time mothers are often undervalued and criticised as much by society as by their own family.
    For the smacking Bill to be sucessful we need to first address the underlying problems in society that contribute to abuse such as poverty, isolation, fear and rejection.
    Unless we tackle the symptoms this Bill will be the bandage on a festering sore.

    Comment by Paula Weir — March 16, 2007 @ 8:49 pm

  40. Since when, pray tell, was smacking the only form of discipline?

    Comment by Sharyn — March 16, 2007 @ 10:04 pm

  41. Hi Steve
    This Bill is about removing the defence of smacking in trials of child abuse. Adults have been aquited of hitting their children with wood and hose piple with Juried deeming that appropriate. If it were adults being hit, they woudl be convicted of assault. Why is it appropriate to hit the most defenceless members of our society.

    In my expereince, smacking was much more about my inability to control my anger, and my taking it out on my children. In the end teh best thing I ahve ever learnt is time out as it got the child out of the room until I was more in control and could think through a punishemnt more suited to the crime.

    I think you will find the time out statement was more about showing how what many parents do now is technically illegal, and yet cases aren’t brought to the courts. Just as if I hit your shoulder, that is also assault, but thsoe cases are not brought to court. Why? because people show common sense.

    thought provoking though

    Comment by John Hebenton — March 17, 2007 @ 9:13 am

  42. @ Sharyn
    Who said it was? Almost every single parent who uses it, uses it as a last ditch measure when other methods have failed.

    Comment by Andrew Brown — March 17, 2007 @ 3:48 pm

  43. this discussion has gone too far off the deep end for me. I wasn’t specific regarding my feelings about physical punishment because I didn’t think that was the point of this post. I have my opinions about spanking and there you have it. I also already shared my feelings about a bill of this nature probably not being terribly effective in solving the problem of bad discipline choices or abuse.

    So for those who had questions or comments, I’m choosing to leave my original comment stand on its own so as not to get so deep into this inflamatory subject

    Comment by Ari — March 20, 2007 @ 5:11 am

  44. i think that parents should be able to smack our children because otherwise it means we are giving all the control to the children! and could get out of hand! they are our children and the law shouldnt be telling us how to raise our children!

    Comment by allz — March 27, 2007 @ 8:43 pm

  45. smacking children is wrong

    how backward is this country?
    we one of the highest violent crime rates in the civilized world
    where do you think this starts?
    who do people think its okay to hit defenseless babies?

    i never have smacked my children
    ive never needed to
    they are happy ,balanced and intelligent.

    brainwashing children using pain as a medium is wrong
    its a form of torture and is macabre
    how would you like it if i did it to you.

    “oh my, im a Christian, my child blasphemed.i better put the fear of
    god in them with some pain!”

    shall i inflict pain on anyone in society whos actions i do not approve.?
    so why do it to little defenseless children because they are simply
    in need of attention.

    why is it in a society that doesn’t allow adults or teenagers to be hit or to be cruel to animals,.
    that people feel they have the right to hit the most defenseless of us all.

    not allowed to kick the dog anymore.
    oh well at least you can still hit the kids.

    so the legislation will make our kids have rights equal to dogs

    smacking is selfish.
    Its for parents who have no self control.
    for people who havent the intelligence,
    to solve problems in other ways.

    Comment by paul — March 30, 2007 @ 11:36 pm

  46. Paul,
    – comparing children to dogs is pretty emotive and unhelpful for the debate; as is the suggestion that parents who smack have no self-control and no intelligence.
    – i struggle to understand your automatic assumption that smacking is the root of a violence in society. do you really think that abuse against children will stop because of this legislation?


    Comment by steve — March 31, 2007 @ 11:59 am

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