Saturday, February 24, 2007

Spare the rod spoil the child, use the rod and be put in jail

Currently there is a bill before New Zealand Parliament to make it illegal for parents to hit their children. While New Zealand does have shocking domestic and child violence statistics this bill will mean a parent could be charged for even administering a light smack.

At the moment the law allows for a child to be smacked as long as "reasonable force" is used. The problem with the current legislation is the term reasonable force is not defined so what is reasonable to one person may be entirely different to someone else so it does little to give clear boundaries about what is legal and what is not.

Clearly something needed to changed but sadly the bill that has been presented to parliament seeks to make criminals out of well meaning parents. The bill's sponsor Sue Bradford would say that this not the intention of the legislation at and that it is unlikely the police would ever arrest someone for lightly hitting a child. However at the same time she is not willing to have her bill amended in anyway to allow for parents to lightly smack children.

The best suggestion has come from national MP Chester Burrows who has suggested an amendment to the proposed bill. Mr Burrows amendment would allow parents to use limited force when disciplining children but. So it would be similar to current legislation but would be a lot more definite about what constituted discipline and what constituted violence. Sadly Sue Bradford will not consider this as an amendment to her bill and claims that this would be worse then the current legislation. She has not however offered any explanation as to why clearly defined boundaries for physical discipline of a child would be worse then what we currently have but instead has insisted that if the amendment is approved then she will withdraw the bill. Clearly a case of if you disagree with me then I'm taking my ball and going home.

With the current debate going around Jim Hopikns wrote this fantastic piece for the New Zealand Herald. In it he addresses the pressure being put on individuals to vote down the party line despite it being a conscience vote. And also the inconsistencies between the governments attitude towards child violence and their attitude to abortion.

Sadly most commentators seem to think that Bradford's bill will be accepted. What can one say except GOD DEFEND NEW ZEALAND


amy said...

Great article Ronny, thanks for the link. I feel quite passionate about doing something to stop this bill go through (despite the fact our government seems to do as it pleases despite what the public think... are we still a democratic society?!) I sent an email to my local MP today opposing the bill, and might email a few more MP's.

There's a guy in Tauranga who is organising a petition to hold a referendum re this bill. They need 300000 signatures, hopefully by mid-march. My mum is a coordinator for it here in Chch. I could get his details if you want to sign it or help get signatures up there?

Hope you & Saz are doing good :)

Sharyn said...

I am totally at a loss to understand why so many Christians are so anti this bill? Like there's something in the bible that says we should hit our children or we're bad parents. Why are many Christians falling over themselves to protect the "right" of adults to smack/hit children?

And what about the inconsistency of Christians being anti abortion and pro smacking?

If the bill was amended even a little you still couldn't use a rod.

I just don't get it.

Aaron More said...

I would suggest many parents both Christians and non Christians are concerned about this bill as it would make them law breakers.

I don't have a problem being anti abortion and pro smacking as I don't view a light smack as damaging to a child, where as abortion is obviously damaging to a child.

I also see no reason why the law could not allow for someone to be lightly disciplined with a rod (which literally means a stick) to me this would be a light smack with the wooden spoon.

I myself have had a light smack on the bottom with a wooden spoon. So the reason why I am against this legislation is it is deeply offensive to me. It is suggesting that my mum is not a good a parent and that she acted inappropriately towards me. Sure the legislation is not retrospective but it still seeks to make her actions out as being inappropriate when to me they were not. I am sorry but I simply cannot stomach this. I had a fantastic upbringing and am so proud of the way my mum handled me. I was a problem child between the ages of 7-10 and I am so proud of the way it was handled. I was very rarely phyiscally discplined but when I was it had a postive result in my life.

Sure many parents don't handle physical discipline in a mature way and it turns into abuse, they certainly should have the book thrown at them. I am 100% against child abuse but light smacking is a very different thing.

Sharyn said...

Just because I was smacked and I think smacking is wrong on principle, doesn't mean I don't respect my parents or my upbringing.

You certainly wouldn't be able to use an implement to assault a child under the ammendment.

You may not think smacking is damaing, but the weight of pyscological evidence is against you. People do study these things!

But, that is hardly the point. The point is, if you "smacked" an adult, you could be charged with assault. It's not about whether or not you are damaged by that smack, it's your right not to be subjected to it. What is it about children that means they don't have that same right?

Sharyn said...

Also, following your logic, the MPs are not being contrary then, being pro choice and anti smacking, because they do not regard abortion as harming a child. This is because they do not regard the foetes (sp?) as a child.

I, on the other hand, am the only sane one left, being both anti smacking AND anti abortion.

Hey, at least I'm consistent!

Aaron More said...

Surely you can see that condoning murder while not allowing a gentle smack is inconsistent, while allowing a gentle smack but not allowing murder is not. You may not agree with gentle smacking but being anti abortion does not mean you have to be anti smacking to still hold a logical view point.

I am aware of course that pro abortionist don't believe they are condoning murder and so they would not think their position is flawed. Then again I don't know too many people who do believe their position is flawed!

Their are also studies that prove that light smacking does not harm children.

I think it is hard to say you are not disrespecting an upbringing when you are saying anyone who behaves like our parents should be charged with a crime. I can honestly see why some people choose not to gently smack and I respect their decision but I also respect the many loving and caring parents who believe the best way to bring up their child is too occasionally use an appropriate measure of physical discipline.