Though this article is about the UK and is five years old, it is still very relevant and applicable to our situation in New Zealand. It tells of deceptive wording and inordinate sums spent on banning smacking when the real causes of child abuse are left alone. Well worth a read.
Once again the NSPCC is taking a moralistic and judgmental line in dictating to parents as to precisely how they should and should not discipline their children. Many NSPCC supporters will be horrified by the vast sums of money being spent on the current preaching campaign against smacking - funds which would have been better spent on front-line work to protect children at genuine risk of abuse.
Speaking on behalf of the family advocacy group, Families First, Norman Wells commented: 'The NSPCC's current poster campaign is an insult to parents. Most parents instinctively love their children and take a keen interest in them, and would not be so irresponsible as to ignore their children's bad behaviour in the way that the NSPCC recommends. Ignoring bad behaviour simply doesn't work. It doesn't make for happy children, harmonious homes or a well-ordered society. With growing concern about rising youth crime and a police presence in some schools, this is no time to be talking about ignoring bad behaviour.'
Mr Wells continued: 'Not only is the NSPCC engaging in a dangerous social experiment, but they are also set on imposing their unproven theories on every family in the country by force of law. They are calling on the government to pass laws that would criminalise any parent who smacked his or her child, no matter how mildly. They appear to be completely indifferent to the fact that the case conferences, care proceedings and court hearings which would inevitably follow such legislation would cause far more damage to children than a disciplinary smack.
'Research has demonstrated that a controlled smack, in response to unacceptable behaviour and given with love and a verbal explanation, is an effective way of correcting children and of teaching them how to behave. It is often a more kind and merciful response than some of the suggested "alternatives", which can be more drawn-out or emotionally damaging. Such parents should be supported in their responsible approach to bringing up children and not made to feel like failures, still less treated as criminals.'
Families First also expresses concern at the questionable tactics being employed by the NSPCC. On the strength of a public opinion poll they conducted in February 2002, the NSPCC are claiming that the majority of parents now support legal reform against smacking. But the truth is that they didn't ask what people thought about smacking; they asked how people felt about 'hitting' children - which is an altogether different question.
Mr Wells remarked: 'It's rather like asking whether doctors should be allowed to stab their patients. Everyone would say 'no' to that, but it would be dishonest to draw the conclusion that there was overwhelming public support for a legal ban on innoculations! The use of a disciplinary smack by a loving parent in response to a child's unacceptable behaviour is no more a violent assault than the use of a needle and syringe in a hospital or a doctor's surgery. In both cases any pain is accompanied by an explanation and is done with a positive end in view. The context is crucial. Yet the NSPCC thrives on using emotive language and on completely refusing to take into account the context or the relationship between a parent and a child. They fail to recognise any difference between loving discipline within the home and a violent assault perpetrated by a stranger in the street.'