Sunday, April 22, 2007

Lindsay Mitchell on Section59

this from
Re-released - NZ research to support repeal of section 59

Wait for this to hit the news. Just published at the Ministry of Social Development website, What Do Children Tell Us About Physical Punishment As A Risk Factor For Child Abuse?


This paper discusses children's views of family discipline and possible implications for policymakers. In 2004, 80 New Zealand children, between five and 14 years of age, took part in research eliciting their views on family discipline.

It is a very small sample.

The children were introduced to fictional characters who asked the questions.

Splodge (a fictional alien from outer space) was introduced to the children (5–11 years) as being very curious about life on Earth. They were told that Splodge did not know much about life on Earth and wanted to know about lots of things. Splodge was especially interested to know about family discipline and thought that children would be the best people to ask. The children were asked if they could help Splodge by answering the questions in the Splodge storybook. Spike was introduced to the older children (12–14 years) as having just landed on earth from the planet Nostro to complete a homework assignment. The homework assignment was about what children on Earth think about family discipline. The older children were asked if they could assist Spike in completing the homework assignment by answering some questions. The questions Spike asked were the same as those asked by Splodge. Both presentations were adapted from the 1998 Willow and Hyder study. The focus group discussions were 60 minutes long on average. The discussions were audiotaped and later transcribed and analysed thematically.

Hence,We have to be cautious in our interpretation of these findings of children's explanations of concepts and events to a fictional character.

These questions were asked about children in general, rather than their own individual experiences. On the other hand, the children's verbatim responses indicate that they are generally talking about their own subjective experiences within their families.

For instance, they were all asked, What are some of the things that happen to children when they do things they shouldn't? From the responses 61% said parents use physical punishment. Presumably 39% did not. But spontaneously only 10% of the 5-7 year-olds and 14% of the 9-11 year-olds said they were not smacked. Each child was not asked whether or not they were smacked. But these findings were considered significant enough to include.

84% lived with both parents. That is not representative, despite the research claiming socio-econimc and ethnic diversity.

Further from the abstract, In response to questions on family discipline children spontaneously revealed concerning levels of the frequency and severity of physical punishment, some of which would be identified as child abuse using any threshold. Children's reports of the context in which physical punishment was delivered by parents was also of concern. Many children reported high levels of confusion when trying to link their own views of physical punishment with the actions of their parents.

So this unscientific piece of research will now be wheeled out in support of repealing section 59 because, The findings from this study indicate that children who live in homes where physical punishment is used are more at risk of child abuse than those that do not.


It would have been most interesting to see the parental responses to this research. When David Fergusson researched partner violence he looked at each partner's individual reporting and then matched them for similarity of statements. That's what I would like to see happen here, though I'm not convinced wheeling out aliens to do the interviewing would be halpful .


Anonymous said...

I have just read in the media that a parent is presently before the courts in Auckland for bashing her 3-year-old child to death for soiling his pants.

Go to:

Apparently this family frequently hits (or smacks) their children. If that 3 year old had behaved himself he would not have died from over-smacking.

This outcome is perfectly normal. It has to be expected that some families are going to go too far and harm or even kill their children. That is the “nature of the beast” because “reasonable force” has varying degrees for different families.

We need to keep Section 59 to maintain discipline. The risk of children being harmed or killed from over-smacking is a very worthwhile risk to take in order to maintain discipline in our homes. The courts are very good at dealing with this unfortunate, but sometimes necessary outcome, even though it may (and sometime may not) lead to a conviction.

Section 59 needs to be widened to reflect the discipline laws of the 18th and 19th centuries. Morals began to fall when husbands were banned from chastising their wives or partners. When this discipline was banned THAT is where the social engineering began – so this is really nothing new.

Section 59 should allow employers to chastise employees, children should be beaten in schools as well as in the home, male partners and husbands should be able to chastise their woman partners, spouses or wives and the birch should be used in the Military.

As long as reasonable force under Section 59 is used then no harm can come from it. You can also ensure that flogged employees will work harder!!

Unknown said...

My Dear Wackford,

Once again your prescription for the restoration of all decency to society does not go far enough.

What good is use of the birch to the military in matters of discipline? None whatsoever! No, the cat'o'nine, flogging round the fleet (in the case of the navy) & several hundred lashes in all other cases is just the minimum requirement. One must also remember to advocate hanging for the common soldier & sailor in all cases of cowardice. There's already too much cowardice & potential for mutiny in our armed services & just a few examples made of the worst ringleaders now will do much to restore discipline & pride in the regiments.

As for Sue Bradford, & any other women who have risen above their proper station, a few good sessions on the cucking stool are in order for a start: with more drastic solutions in store for the more persistent.

Your humble servant, etc
Mister Creakle