Saturday, April 28, 2007

Letter from John Key to Party Leaders on Smacking

this from - 26 April

Even though Sue Bradford has said she will not back it, John Key has written to all party leaders seeking support for his compromise amendment. That amendment will defuse all the controversy from the bill and it will probably then pass with 110 or more votes.

The Key letter is:

I am writing to seek your support for a proposed amendment to the Crimes (Abolition of Force as a Justification for Child Discipline) Amendment Bill currently before the house. As you may know, I met with Sue Bradford MP to discuss this amendment with her on 25 April, and she has indicated she will not support the amendment.

The amendment proposes removing the new subsections 59(2) and 59(3) and inserting a clause justifying the use of light smacking that is “minor and inconsequential”, while leaving in place the general prohibition on force for the purpose of correction in the purpose clause of the bill. A copy of the proposed amendment is attached.

This amendment will allow good parents to feel reassured that they will not be criminalised by the new legislation, rather than relying on Police procedure to avoid investigation and prosecution. The clause will also provide clear guidance to the Police that light smacking of a minor and inconsequential nature should not result in prosecution.

It is unfair to rely on the Police to exercise their discretion to make this legislation work, simply because we as a Parliament lack the courage to codify the law in the way we expect it to be enforced. The reality is that there will be widely differing interpretations of this law, and of any procedures and guidelines attached to it, by Police around the country.

We all agree that the purpose of this legislation is to reduce New Zealand’s terrible rate of harming children, but we all probably agree that we do not want to see good parents criminalised for engaging in actions no one considers criminal. I simply believe it is bad law for Parliament to pass a piece of legislation outlawing an activity absolutely, and then expect the Police not to prosecute minor breaches.

My proposed amendment achieves the outcome that I think we are all after, and I seek your support for this change to the bill.

The amendment John Key proposes, to replace the 59(2) and 59(3) is:

Every parent of a child and every person in the place of a parent of a child is justified in lightly smacking the child in the course of their parenting duties if the smacking used was minor and inconsequential, notwithstanding Section 3 of the Crimes (Abolition of Force as a Justification for Child Discipline) Amendment Act 2007.
If an MP votes against that amendment, it will make it pretty clear they are voting to ban correctional smacking.

David Farrar: Bradford's bill is anti-smacking bill

this from

One should give credit to Sue Bradford for her willingness to talk to John Key on a compromise, even though no agreement could be reached. This is not entirely surprising considering Bradford has always said she is unwilling to define any acceptable level of force - even light smacking, as being worse than the status quo

Plaque on both their houses points out how extraordinary Bradford's position is - arguing that reducing the level of acceptable force is worse than the status quo.

Now Bradford has come out and said that the fear parents have that this bans smacking is the fault of bill opponents. But having had occasion to reread her bill this week, her protestations of innocence do not add up. Just look at the official purpose of the Bill:

The purpose of this Act is ... abolishing the use of parental force for the purpose of correction.

Now this is as clear as day. None of this Clark bullshit about just removing a defence. The purpose of the Bill is to abolish the use of parental force for correction. Now it could not be clearer. Smacking is a subset of parental force for correction. The purpose of the Bill hence is to abolish or ban smacking. These are Bradford's own words in her own bill.

This is why compromise could not be found. The aim of the bill is to abolish the use of any parental force for correction.

Now looking through the Bill again I found to my horror the amended Bill is far far worse, in my opinion, than the original Bill was.


The original bill merely deleted Section 59. It left the law silent on parental correction. It meant there was no specific statutory defence, but the judicial authorities would be able to consider the circumstances of particular cases.

But the amended bill goes far beyond just abolishing the specific defence. It states in s59(2):

Nothing in subsection (1) or in any rule of common law justifies the use of force for the purpose of correction.

I should have highlighted this earlier. This doesn't just remove parental correction as a defence. It outlaws it by statute. And even worse it specifically wipes out any ability of a court to consider common law in its interpretation. I'd say that any case that makes court, no matter how trivial, will be a slam dunk for the prosecution. Because 59(2) explicitly rules out any defence.

So when Sue Bradford and Helen Clark claim the bill does not outlaw or ban smacking, remember these two things:

(1) The stated purpose of the Bill is to abolish the use of parental force for the purpose of correction

(2) Section 59(2) explicitly forbids the use of any force for the purpose of correction

So remember this bill is not just about removing a defence. The Bill's own purpose states it is about banning parental correction which uses force, which includes smacking.

...Heh such Green logic - so that means if I drive at 150 km/hr I am not breaking the law unless they catch me :-)

Cases Prove Child Abuse Not Being Protected by Section 59

Family First Media Release 21 APRIL 2007

Three cases of assaults on children over the past fortnight have proved that the claim that section 59 is protecting child abusers is totally false.

A Hawkes Bay woman faces a jail term for taking to her son with a wooden spoon and leaving him with 4cm welts.

A Tauranga mother who admitted she slapped her 10-year-old daughter about the face and body at least five times to discipline her for back-chatting has also been convicted of assault.

And yesterday, an Invercargill mother was convicted of assault of a child after she used the child's folder to hit him across the arms and used her open hand to hit him across the buttocks. The boy received extensive bruising to his hands, arms, lower buttocks and upper thighs.

"Section 59 did not protect these parents – and nor should it have," says National Director Bob McCoskrie. "But what these cases do show is that the current law is working." "These assaults are quite obviously not reasonable – and are quite different to light smacks which over 80% of NZ'ers support as being appropriate for the parental guidance and correction of children. Kiwis understand the difference between reasonable correction of a child and child abuse."
Mr McCoskrie says these cases prove it is time to ditch the Bradford 'Anti-Smacking' Bill and start tackling the real causes of child abuse – family breakdown, drug and alcohol abuse, poverty and stress.

"A ban on smacking is simply a failure to deal with the real causes of child abuse," says Mr McCoskrie.

Summary of Polls: 83% against Bradford's bill

Family First has compiled this list of polls on the Section59 debate. The following results are the percentage of New Zealanders against Bradford's bill.

Treasures website Apr 2007 85% Apr 2007 80% (37,000 votes!)
Waikato Times Apr 4 2007 87%
TV3 TNS Mar 29 2007 69%
TVNZ Colmar Brunton Mar 26 2007 83%
Research NZ Mar 26 2007 73%
Bay of Plenty Times Text Poll Mar 26 2007 94.6%
TV3 Website poll Mar 14 2007 89%
NZ News – Yahoo .com Mar 13 2007 92% (7643 votes)
TV3 News Poll Mar 2007 83%
NZ Herald Feb 2007 90% (3874)
TVNZ website Feb 2007 87%
STUFF website July 2006 82% (6700 votes!)
TVNZ website July 2006 88%
Bay of Plenty Times May 2006 83%
Child Abuse Conference Feb 2006 82%
STUFF website Feb 2006 84%
Dominion Post Feb 2006 82%
STUFF website March 2005 86%
NZ Herald July 2005 71%
STUFF website June 2005 82%

21 polls – average 83%

One National voice out of 48 backs Bradford bill

this from

Katherine Rich says National has always had a few social liberals. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Katherine Rich

National MP Katherine Rich is likely to be the last MP standing in her caucus of 48 who supports Sue Bradford's anti-smacking bill when it finally passes.

"It is not what I expected," she said last night. "But I am privileged to be in a party that allows me to express those views."

She said National had always had a "small pocket" of social liberals.

"When Ralph Hannan [Justice Minister in the Holyoake Government] started talking about the equal distribution of matrimonial property and getting rid of capital punishment, people thought he was a nut. But slowly over time the community changes."

The National caucus has allowed a free vote on the Bradford bill, which bans the use of physical punishment on children.

West Auckland list MP Paula Bennett was thought to be another supporting the private member's bill but she said she had not made up her mind and had sent out 19,000 letters to voters seeking their views in a telephone poll.

By yesterday she had received only 200 replies and 66 per cent wanted her to oppose the bill, so on the basis of that she probably would.

"I am honestly and genuinely conflicted," Ms Bennett said.

National Party leader John Key said he was quite relaxed about Mrs Rich's position.

Mr Key said he had not given up attempting to gain support for an amendment that would state that minor and inconsequential smacks by parents would not be covered by the bill.

But Ms Bradford, a Green MP, confirmed yesterday that she would withdraw the bill if that happened anyway.

Mr Key plans to contact Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia over the weekend and New Zealand First MPs next week.

Meanwhile, the Anglican Church is organising an ecumenical service for peace in families at the Wellington Cathedral on Wednesday at 1pm.

At the same time, across the road at Parliament, Destiny Church will hold a protest rally to mark the return of the bill to the debating chamber.

The Anglican Church's social justice commissioner, Anthony Dancer, said last night that the rally would involve Anglicans, Catholics, Methodists, Presbyterians and other mainstream church members on an individual basis.

Friday, April 27, 2007

anti-smacking crusade insults loving parents

This from - 8 May 2002

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.'

No smack compromise for Key and Bradford

this from
NZPA | Wednesday, 25 April 2007

National Party leader John Key and the Green's Sue Bradford have failed to agree on a compromise over her controversial bill to change the law on smacking. They met for an hour in Parliament today for talks Ms Bradford described as "genuine and friendly" but did not find a way to overcome National's strong opposition to the bill. The bill's future did not depend on the meeting because there are 63 votes behind it, enough for it to be passed into law, but it has divided Parliament and is causing bitter debates. The bill removes from the Crimes Act the statutory defence that allows "reasonable force" to be used to correct children. Opponents, including National, say that means even the lightest smack would be a criminal offence. Supporters say smacking has been illegal for more than 100 years and the defence is allowing people to get away with savagely beating children. Ms Bradford said Mr Key proposed an amendment to the bill at their meeting which would insert a clause stating parents were justified in lightly smacking a child, if the smacking was minor and inconsequential.

It is similar to an amendment already proposed by National MP Chester Borrows, although the wording is different. Ms Bradford said it was not acceptable, because it would legitimise violence against a child. Mr Key initiated today's meeting and Ms Bradford said she believed he had made a genuine attempt to cut through the problems National has with the bill. "I think Mr Key does want to reduce the level of violence against children. . .I think he tried really hard to come up with something," she said. Mr Key was due to hold a press conference later today. A spokesman said the meeting had been cordial "but there was no outcome".

Smack down the middle

by Craig Smith of Family Integrity

The Show on TV - Sunday Night 7.30pm Smack down the Middle - DID NOT, in fact, deal with the famous "hosepipe" case the repeal lobby bring up time and again. It dealt with a totally unknown case that is unknown because it never made it to court but was tossed out by a couple of Taranaki JPs who decided it was not worth prosecuting.

Just to point out a few things: the father of the boy was all upset. Well, for crying out loud, who was it sent his own son away because he could no longer handle him? Did he not choose where the boy got sent? Did he not check out what kind of treatment the boy would get there?

The boy was asked if he'd ever smack his own future children. "No, munless they...." There you have it.

The father said, in spite of all this, he DID NOT support Bradford's Bill.

I must also add that the smack the uncle administered was controlled, not in anger, measured and explained to the boy and the boy apparently submitted to it.

In virtually ALL the discussions about smacking, parents are portrayed as lashing out in frustration, anger, having come to the end of their tether. The wee film clips of parents smacking children with their hands are all of this variety. THis is not controlled, useful, purposeful corporal correction. This is what most would call "light smacks" that they don't want to see banned. It is the measured strokes with a wooden spoon or cane that are, in fact, most judicial, helpful, purposeful, effective, are explained to the child, are submitted to by the child, but which are most likely to be banned because they have not entered into the debate.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Bradford is getting desperate

I watched Sunday on TV One tonight.
You can watch it here

In tonight's programme, Bradford was asked for some comments. Being so blown away by the brazen lies that Bradford was letting roll off her tongue, I grabbed the weekend Press and scribbled down what she said on it. not verbatim...

Bradford was asked "So you're trying to change the mindset of New Zealanders?"
Bradford: "Yes".
"Isn't that what they call social engineering?"
Bradford: "You can call it that if you want to, but I think that it's worth it to stop kids from dying from smacking, hitting and beating."

From her own lips, Bradford states that
a) smacking has killed children
b) social engineering is good

Bradford looks miserable, is acting desperately and looks like she could do with a good night's sleep.

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 .