Monday, November 26, 2007

Kerre Woodham "3 smacks case"

According to Kerre Woodham of the NZ Herald, the case of the father being convicted for smacking his child 3 times on the bottom is not the sort of case to give the National Party a reason to turn back the clock on the repeal of S59. We agree with her on this, however we would say that increasingly, cases are going to start coming in where good parents are in fact prosectuted for giving their child a light, loving smack.

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It's amazing how many people are defending the actions of a Masterton father who grabbed his child so roughly he bruised him, before smacking him three times. The man, whose identity has been suppressed to protect the identity of his child, pleaded guilty to assault in the Masterton District Court and was sentenced to nine months' supervision and ordered to attend an anger management course.

The conviction has generated howls of protest from the various lobby groups who fought passionately against the anti-smacking bill - here, they say, is in example of a good, honest dad trying to discipline his child and he's been persecuted by a liberal nanny state. Other groups have demanded that National hold true to its promise that if one good parent is prosecuted for smacking their child then National would repeal Sue Bradford's law.

Some people seem to have a very generous interpretation of what it means to be a good parent. If I'd handled my child so roughly she bruised, I would have been appalled.

However, you should have heard the people ringing talkback on Thursday night, suggesting that the boy probably bruised easily. Or that the woman was a vindictive cow looking to make trouble for her husband. Or that the child had committed such a heinous act, any father was justified in acting that way.

A number of callers were incredibly quick to blame everyone but the man himself for the situation he found himself in. If so many people think it's fine and perfectly reasonable to bruise a child, it makes me think this legislation is more necessary than I initially thought. Certainly the National Party doesn't think this Masterton man is a poster boy for parenthood.

As Judith Collins says, under the amendment that Chester Borrows proposed to the anti-smacking legislation, the man would still have been charged because he'd left bruises on his boy. National stands by its promise that the party will repeal the law if it is government and if a parent is prosecuted for smacking their child with an open palm. But given that the mother was so concerned she took photos of the bruising and that the man himself pleaded guilty to assault, this case isn't going to be the one that helps to turn back the clock.

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I have not got the full details of this case so I am only getting second hand information through the media. The National party is taking a cautious approach and rightly so, to this because of the situation surrounding the case and that the Father has had previous trouble with the police.

But I do believe that the National party should take some leadership on this issue and at least say that they will repeal the law back to Chester Borrows proposed amendment.

Remember up to 83% of New Zealanders opposed this law, that should be a mandate for change.

5 comments:

Chuck said...

What law change do you propose? Do you propose going back to S59 or S59 with possibel amendments?

Andy Moore said...

Hi Chuck.

There was nothing at all wrong with the original Section 59, and it would be my preference that we return back to the old law.

However, realistically, if National does honour the citizens initiated referendum on the anti-smacking law then the new law will simply be an ammended version of the new law - and heaps better.

Thanks for your work on the petition mate. I see you're pretty active in the blogosphere!

Chuck said...

Hi Andy

No law is perfect and that includes Section 59. I would like to see Chester Borrows’ amendment as a starting point. There should be public submission on that.

Andy Moore said...

Chester's ammendment was better, but still a massive compromise. Who is the Government to tell good parents that...

"A smack with a wooden spoon is child abuse, but a smack with a hand is not"

We all know that a smack with a hand could well do more damage than a smack with a wooden spoon, or vice-versa.

Chuck said...

It would be good if we could find out the truth about this case.

It is accepted that there was bruising to the boy’s shoulder. It is alleged that there is extensive bruising to the boy’s buttocks. This has been denied. It could be the case that this man could have been convict under S59. Contrary to Sue Bradford’s gross exaggeration only a handful of people used S59 successfully.

When we get the 300,000 signatures provided we are not blocked by the EFB we will watch National’s position with interest.