from The Daily Post - www.dailypost.co.nz
22.06.2007 - By KRISTIN MACFARLANE
SINGLE mum Augusta Scott has her hands full with two young boys, Elijah, 10 and Chance, 8. Most of the time they're good kids. But sometimes if they're naughty, she'll give them a light smack. Ms Scott says that doesn't make her a bad mother. However, she's worried that from today parents like her could come under unfair scrutiny. Sue Bradford's Crimes (Substituted Section 59) Amendment Bill - the anti-smacking bill - comes into effect today after being passed into law last month.
Ms Scott said as a single mum it could be difficult controlling two young boys who sometimes fought. In these circumstances, a light smack was necessary, she said. "You can't say naughty boy and send them to time out because it doesn't work," she said. "If it's controlled it can provide the effective reinforcement when you're trying to teach a child something. "It's all the parents [who] discipline with control [who] are going to be under the spotlight." Ms Scott has a teenage daughter who was smacked when she misbehaved.
It had not had a negative affect on her, Ms Scott said. Ms Scott said the bill also had the potential for children to make false complaints because it has been such a high-profile issue.
"Guaranteed, it will happen."
John Wilson of the Rotorua police child abuse section agreed. "There's always been the potential for false complaints," Mr Wilson said. However, he did think the bill was good in the sense that it changed the Crimes Act and removed the defence of "reasonable force" against assault on a child. "It's certainly a step in the right direction," he said. He didn't think responsible parents needed to worry about getting into trouble. "The whole thing has to be viewed with a good amount of common sense," he said.
A quick comment from the editor of the Section 59 blog...
"I feel sorry for all these police officers. Earlier in the year, they were expressing apprehension over the new bill, however now they are all parroting the politicians. I reckon if they stand up and say "this new piece of law is going to result in good parents being prosecuted, and children being taken out of good homes", they would lose their job. The ammendment has not really changed anything at all, and Joe Bloggs police officer down at your local police station knows this. He's just scared to say so."