Sunday, April 15, 2007

Timaru mother: "I have never beaten my children"

this article from Saturday's Press

"The Timaru mother acquitted of assaulting her son with a cane and a riding crop – and now facing a new trial for allegedly assaulting another son – says parents should be free to use implements to deliver a "short and sharp" shock to their children.

In an internet video, the mother defended her use of physical discipline and railed against proposed child-discipline legislation.

"I have never, ever beaten any of my children," she said in the 10-minute clip, posted to YouTube. com on Wednesday.

"I've disciplined them appropriately when they've needed it. As a last resort, I've used physical discipline; not a first resort."

The mother has name suppression and her face is pixellated in the video to prevent identification.

She and her husband appeared in the Timaru District Court on Thursday and were remanded on bail for a trial date to be set.

The woman's teenage son told the court he was hog-tied and kicked by his stepfather and punched by the pair during a journey together in January.

The stepfather pleaded guilty to two charges of assault and not guilty to one charge of assault with intent to injure. The woman pleaded not guilty to three charges of assault and one of assault with intent to injure.

Her earlier acquittal was cited as justification for Green Party MP Sue Bradford's bill to repeal section 59 of the Crimes Act, which allows parents to use reasonable force against their children.

The mother said yesterday that Prime Minister Helen Clark and Bradford had "deliberately lied about the facts of our case and manipulated the truth to fit into their own political agenda".

In the video, she called on parents to oppose the bill. "If section 59 is removed, parents in New Zealand need to be very, very afraid – not just of disciplining their children, but of CYF (Child, Youth and Family) intervention ... CYF will take your children.

"Even putting your hands on your child to take him to time-out will constitute assault. You will be charged and you will face losing your children through CYF.

"Even though I've been acquitted, CYF still say I'm a violent abuser... They paint me as being an angry woman who beat her child.

"I wasn't angry. I didn't beat him. The discipline was completely controlled."

In the video, she displays the riding crop and the cane she used on her son. She said the discipline "radically changed" his behaviour for the better.

The mother said yesterday it was "very appropriate" for parents to mete out discipline with implements, provided it was reasonable and controlled.

"The sting from a cane or crop is short and sharp, but not injurious. The sting only lasts 30 seconds but is memorable and effective," she said.

The man who filmed and posted the woman's video, Renton Maclachlan, of Wellington, said she had been unjustly treated.

He saw her story as part of the bigger cause and had posted several other videos on YouTube dealing with the child-discipline debate.

Child welfare group Barnardos said the fact the woman was back in court showed the need for a law change to reduce child abuse.

"When the 2005 Timaru jury acquitted that mother they gave her and her partner a false message concerning physical punishment of children," chief executive Murray Edridge said.

"Now the consequence of that earlier vindication is all too apparent.

"Perhaps the latest incident would have been avoided if the community, through the court, had told the family that the use of physical force in child discipline was unambiguously wrong."

The child-discipline bill will have its third and final reading when Parliament resumes in a fortnight."

Murray Edridge says: "Now the consequence of that earlier vindication is all too apparent." - groundlessly.  The two situations are entirely different.  The first case was concerning the mother smacking her son with a short cane, and then later with a riding crop.  The son said afterwards that the riding crop hurt less than the cane.  The second case has nothing to do with the first case.

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