Saturday, June 23, 2007
"It blows your mind", says Andy Moore, founder of Politik NZ. "The average, decent looking Kiwi out there on the street is only to happy to put their name on the fast growing list of Kiwis unhappy with the new anti-smacking law."
Mr. Moore is in a good position to comment on this issue, having manned trestle tables with other concerned parents on several occasions.
"I have been staggered at the canyon of difference between the comments and actions of our politicians and the response of your everyday Kiwi." He says. "The high percentage of well-dressed, upper middle class mums and dads who are keen to sign their names to the petition is so different from the story that the media is presenting us with."
"The number of young people who want to sign is quite telling", He says. "Young people only just turned eighteen; young couples, girlfriend and boyfriend, young mums; the vast majority of them are only to happy to put pen to paper".
Mr. Moore says that he has had to turn away a number of children who are also keen to see democracy prevail. "A bit of a smack is ok - but you don't bash them up", said one fifteen-year old.
"The children talk more sense than the politicians"
"Tourists walk up to the table and say 'I would sign, but I'm not from your country - keep up the good work' - a group of high-school boys walk past, and a couple of them yell out 'good on ya!'"
"The people of New Zealand are not fooled - much less our younger generation", Mr. Moore said.
article from www.stuff.co.nz
Neil Pascoe, whose children range in age from two to 23, said it was "totally ridiculous" that parents who regularly smacked their children despite warnings faced prosecution and referral to Child, Youth and Family under the law, which comes into effect on Friday.
"How can they prove it?" he said. "They're not there at the time - they didn't see what went on . . . unless there is bruising - but if there is, or scarring, that then becomes abuse."
Under the guidelines sent to officers yesterday, even parents found to have used "minor, trivial or inconsequential" force and not charged will have their details recorded by police family violence co-ordinators.
The advice, from Police Commissioner Howard Broad, is a crucial element in the implementation of a law that abolishes the defence of reasonable force for parents who smack their children.
It was passed after a last-minute deal between Labour and National brought a clause making it clear that police were not expected to prosecute "inconsequential" smacking.
Though that is recognised in the guidelines, "inconsequential" is not defined, with officers told it will ultimately be up to the courts to determine in test cases.
The advice goes on to say that smacking not considered inconsequential by investigating officers may be prosecuted if it is "repetitive and frequent" and previous warnings have been ignored. Such incidents would constitute assault, and must be referred to child abuse investigators and CYF.
Family First director Bob McCoskrie, who led a massive campaign against the law change, said the guidelines confirmed many of the fears raised by opponents.
Green MP Sue Bradford, who introduced the bill, said the guidelines gave police "some context".
Friday, June 22, 2007
This week the Police released a practice guide on the Crimes (Substituted Section 59) Amendment Act 2007 detailing how they intend to decide whether parents will or will not be prosecuted when they use physical discipline. The changes to the law around disciplining children will come into effect on 22 June 2007, making it technically illegal to use mild physical force for the purposes of correction. However, if the offence is 'inconsequential' the police have discretion whether to prosecute.
The guidelines suggest that even though infrequent smacking may be considered inconsequential, prosecution may still occur after repetitive incidents. Similarly, even 'inconsequential' reports of force must be passed on to the Police family violence co-ordinator under the guidelines. The police have also been careful to point out that the true impact of this law will not be seen until case law develops. This means that until someone is prosecuted under the new section 59, the way the guidelines will be applied cannot be predicated. The changes to section 59 are, as many opponents warned, a leap in the dark.
The release of these guidelines coincides with the findings of a national poll on people's attitudes towards the new law, conducted by Curia research, a market research firm. The results show that 78 percent of parents surveyed will still smack their children to correct their behaviour if they believe it is reasonable to do so. Only 16 percent said that they would not. This suggests that people are going to be willing to break the law and whether they will be punished for doing so will depend on how the police view their actions.
This raises an interesting question; will the vast majority of New Zealanders actually ignore this new legislation long-term or will the law eventually change New Zealanders' perspective on parental discipline? Sweden is an interesting test case because physical punishment against children was banned in 1979, yet parents continued to physically discipline their children. While 34 percent of those born before 1979 indicated they had received physical punishment from their parents, this only dropped to 32 percent for those born during or after 1979. The results of the poll by Curia research tentatively suggest that a similar pattern may emerge in New Zealand, which is the inevitable result of a law that relies on police guidelines and court precedents.
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."
Question: There is a 13-month old child trying to pull the network cable out of my laptop as I write this. Should I hit him? How hard?
Answer No 1: A light two-finger tap on the baby's hand together with sternly saying, "No" has a small chance of getting the message across to a 1 year old, though it is probable that the baby's brain is not yet ready to make the connection,
Answer No 2: The baby's brain most certainly is ready to make such a connection (the stern NO would probably do on it's own) - the trouble is that in most cases the parent won't be able to provide the necessary consistency.
Pain is an absolutely essential learning tool for children *including* babies. When a baby get his first teeth he will bite his tongue, it will hurt, he'll do it again, it will hurt again, and he'll quickly associate the two and learn not to bite his tongue. The same applies throughout early childhood - we evolved to feel pain for a reason - and young children *cannot* be taught not to damage their bodies in other ways. If anyone is stupid enough to think they can - try googling for the "Congenital Insensitivity to Pain" and read the stories of children with this disease. Or watch "A Life Without Pain". Most have their teeth pulled to stop then chewing their tongue to bits. Most end up in wheelchairs by the time they are teenagers, if they are lucky.
I'm sure if parents of these children had a button they could press to cause their child pain every time they bit their tongue, or ran into a tree, they'd do it, and probably be accused of violence by the loony anti-smacking brigade.
The causing of the child pain isn't the problem with smacking, since as per above it's an essential learning tool. The problems with smacking are consistency and association. In order to work, the child must be associate the pain with the "bad action", and the punishment must be consistent (it must happen every time the "bad action" occurs). This is very hard to achieve - but exactly the same problem applies to *any* system of punishment or reward.
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Selected opinions from readers asked the question:
"What do you think of the new police smacking guidelines?"
Kiri's, Daniel Ionita's and Victim of Abuse's comments are exceptional
Baggy (Northland): We will now see, how far Sue Bradford's law will go. If I smack my great grandchildren in public for a trivial thing, I would like the police to arrest me and then they can baby sit them (all paid by our tax) and then they can find someone to look after them. (all paid by our tax) Maybe we can send them to Sue's home, Helen Clark's or to Cullens.
Kiri: If we can only use a smack if a child is about to do something - will this not confuse them? They haven't actually done anything wrong - but they were going to? How are we as responsible parents meant to manage this? If a child is running across the road despite attempts to stop it, are you then not able to give that child some corrective action? Would it not be more safe to get the child off the road first before doing anything? These rules are over the top and do not allow the discretion that the NZ public thought we would get. These rules will not stop family violence - in fact it may increase them because you will now be able to say - but they were going to do it so I had to smack them.
Bring Back The Wooden Spoon!
Ridiculous. Waste of time.The smacking policy is not going to stop those families who abuse their children, this even gives them the chance to rush home, shut the doors, and slam their children against the wall. Now this behaviour requires police attention. But smacking a child on the bottom after dashing out across a main road is a necessary action. We learn from the mistake at a young age if we are smacked A: it is unexpected, B: It leaves a little mark C: it stings for a bit D: we remind ourselves if we repeat our behaviour we might get another smack, so I might be good now.I babysit alot, and in my opinion the children are screaming out for discipline. They are foul mouthed, extremely rude, and have choice of what they want to eat, where they want to eat it and basically rule the house. I hope this stupid politically correct cycle hits the dust and we do a big U turn and bring back our morals to society.Love your children, discipline them, teach them respect and New Zealanders will be great people.
I dearly wish to be the first with a criminal record as a result of the anti-smacking law (I have come first at very few things...). I deserve it and come out in this way publicly to confess to the police. The major issue is that I have no longer have an ungrateful little brat to beat the mickey out of...Our three children are successful well adjusted and productive members of society. Well two of them are, the third is at university. I obviously ruined them.Can I go to jail? I hope the law is retrospective.
Hi, my name is Brenda and I am so against the law changes/ First of all, now parents will suddenly become criminals and children will get to roll the show.As for me, I will continue to discipline my kids. Who will anyone blame if any of my kids disobey the law. who else but the parents? I just don't understand 1 thing, why would anyone blame parents all the time for their kids bad behaviour instead of thinking, hang on: the law says "do not smack our children." Just because there are other parents out there who smacks their children until they had enough of smacking doesn't mean all parents are the same. There's more serious issues out there that it needs attention.I honestly think that it's stupid to turn parents into criminals because not all parents are the same.
The smacking guidelines for the police show that the police will vigorously investigate any complaint of a parent smacking their children. So parents can expect they will be investigated for doing something that parents have been doing for centuries -- namely correcting their children. This is wrong, it will not prevent child abuse, it will criminalise ordinary parents and it will diminish the authority of parents. This has happened in schools since the abolition of corporal punishment -- as many as 30,000 children stood down, expelled, suspended last year alone from schools. Our schools have become more violent, not less violent, since corporal punishment was banned. I hope the next government restores section 59 -- so that parents can once again properly discipline their children.
The entire law is in opposition to the fast majority's opinion and an affront to personal liberties. "1984" here we come.
A victim of abuse
Observe how the other creatures of the earth chastise their young.This law makes criminals of humans exercising natural instinctive behaviour (which sexual and physical abuse is not!) and to top this all we are allocating much needed policing time to this ? Every parent will agree there is a huge difference between a smack, a hit or abuse. Worse abuse of a child is not being strong with the child when young and the child growing up with little or no self discipline. Are the makers of this law going to bear responsibility for what comes from this? Why do they think they are wiser than the elders from millennia before us? Has anyone met a 2 or 3 year old who understands time out? This at the very time the child adopts future behavioural patterns.Will the proposers of this law bear responsibility if this law has no effect on the real abuse of children - 'sexual and physical abuse'This law smacks of do gooding, voted in, high earning politicians justifying their existence. "a victim of physical and sexual abuse and deprived of a childhood."
All Hail the mighty Helen! Well done... It is so wonderful that our Police have to have guidelines set on commonsense actions. Has our not so wonderful leader nestled in on stupidity in a broader way that was thought possible. Go the red party, go the greens and any other nambie pambie parties that have dictatorial beliefs. Look, to be real about any of this political dribble is beyond belief. Helen, for your own personal information the people of New Zealand do have a brain. Not everything needs to be legislated. Grow up or get out of politics.
This comment is the only one on the page (15 comments) which is pro the bill
Belinda (North Shore)
I think the smacking rules are justified and long overdue. This bill that has been passed and brought into effect will protect children from abuse. There are better methods of discipline than smacking like praise for good behaviour and an expression of disappointment for bad behavior. Children quickly opt for the praise, it's what they thrive on.
And a quick response to that...
Belinda, simply because "there are better methods of discipline than smacking" does not mean that smacking should therefore be criminalised. Yes, Children do thrive on praise; but is it good for them? Rules and guidelines which are fairly enforced are certainly just as - or more effective. You're in the minority Belinda, the minority opting for a state-governed family. Open up your eyes, this issue is not simply "to smack or not to smack", it is "who's job is child-rearing?"
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
In response to the Police Press Release of 19 June 07
The Police have confirmed that they will prosecute parents who lightly smack their children, even if the smacking is inconsequential.
In the Police Practice Guide released by Deputy Commissioner Rob Pope today, it states that "while smacking may, in some circumstances, be considered inconsequential, a prosecution may be warranted if such actions are repetitive or frequent."
"This makes it quite clear that the discretion clause, trumpeted as the saviour to good parents, will only apply for a limited time and that in effect light smacking of an inconsequential nature will end up being prosecuted," says Mr McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. "This flies in the face of assurances given by Helen Clark and John Key."
The Police Practice guide also acknowledges the confusing nature of the new law in its introduction by stating that "until case law develops on the section, it is not known how it will be interpreted and applied by the Courts. It will take time to see the impact of the new law."
"If the Police are having difficulty determining the law and its effect, how is a parent trying to do a good job and parent effectively and within the law supposed to have confidence in what they are doing," says Mr McCoskrie.
"The Practice Guide also confirms that the Police will be keeping records of all complaints – even those of a minor, trivial or inconsequential nature."
"It is interesting to note that the Police, in the absence of clear definitions in the law of who is a "child" and what constitutes "reasonable force" will be forced to make subjective decisions based on the age and maturity of the child and the circumstances that led to the use of force. In other words, and ironically, we're back to the original section 59."
"The politicians have delivered a 'feel-good' law change to the Police with no substance or certainty for parents, and some poor family is going to be the 'test case' of a law which, according to a recent poll, 78% of NZ'ers will ignore and 77% say it will have no effect on child abuse."
Article from www.stuff.co.nz 20 June 07
Parents who regularly smack their children despite warnings face prosecution and referral to Child, Youth and Family under police guidelines on the controversial law banning physical punishment.
Even parents found to have used "minor, trivial or inconsequential" force and not charged will have their details recorded by police family violence coordinators, under the guidelines sent to officers yesterday.
The advice, from Police Commissioner Howard Broad, is a crucial element in the implementation of the law that abolishes the defence of reasonable force for parents who smack their children. The law comes into force on Friday.
It was passed with overwhelming support after a last-minute deal between Labour and National brought a clause making it clear that police were not expected to prosecute "inconsequential" smacking.
But though that is recognised in the guidelines, there is no definition of "inconsequential", with officers told it will ultimately be up to the courts to determine in test cases.
The advice says that smacking not considered inconsequential by investigating officers may be prosecuted if it is "repetitive and frequent" and previous warnings or interventions have been ignored.
Such incidents would constitute assault, and must be referred to child abuse investigators and CYFS.
Parents who are investigated for smacking that is found to be too trivial to prosecute will have their details handed to family violence officers.
Family First director Bob McCoskrie, who led a massive campaign against the law change, said the guidelines confirmed many of the fears raised by opponents.
"Who's going to be the lucky test case parents who have to go through the hell of a prosecution? If the police are saying 'we're not sure', how in the heck are parents going to be certain that they're parenting within the law?"
But Green MP Sue Bradford, who introduced the bill, said the guidelines gave police "some context" in which to make decisions.
"Is it just once, is it very light, is it twice and very light, or is it twice and very heavy? It was never the intention that every occasion that someone ever lightly smacked would necessarily be prosecuted. I think that the police have walked that fine line here very well."
The guidelines say hitting with a weapon or implement, strikes to the head and kicking should "generally" be prosecuted. In borderline smacking cases, police should consider the child's age, maturity, ability to reason, physical development, health and sex and the circumstances that led to the use of force.
National's leader, John Key, said today his party would keep a close watch on developments.
"The critical test of this legislation was always going to be the way it was administered," he said.
"But I am confident the police will administer the law with the appropriate judgment and discretion required."
Mr Key said a National-led government would change the law if it was not working.
"The overwhelming majority of New Zealanders do not want to see good parents criminalised for an 'inconsequential' smack. That's what National signed up to, and that's still the case."
Monday, June 18, 2007
information & photo from nzherald.co.nz
Here is his (2 November 2006) response to a letter from my sister and myself to him (25 October). Notice he spells Lydia's name wrong.
Dear Andrew and Lyndia
Thankyou for taking the time to write to me on 25 October with your views concerning Section 59 of the Crimes Act 1962. I do not happen to agree with your views but I appreciate having heard from you.
Oh yeah, this guy speaks for 83% of everyday mums and dads, Joe Bloggs Kiwi doesn't he. "Immature" was the first word that came to mind as I read this MPs pathetic drivel.
"I do not happen to agree with your views" - is this the thoughtless tripe that we pay MPs to say? They're there to represent the people... aren't they? Any MP's "views" should be the least of his concerns. They are in their position primarily to represent the views of the people.
In a 15 November 2006 letter to my then 12 year old brother, Clayton Cosgrove wrote the following:
Like the Prime Minister, I do not support a "ban on smacking", and this government has never proposed such a move.
Singing a different tune now, aren't we Mr. Cosgrove.
Click here to read the official results of the attitudes on parental discipline poll
Only 29% of NZ’ers support the Sue Bradford ‘anti-smacking’ bill due to become enforceable in law this week, and 78% plan to ignore the law and continue to smack as a form of correction, despite the possibility they might be prosecuted.
These are the key finding of research commissioned by Family First NZ and conducted by market research company Curia Market Research. The poll surveyed almost 1,000 people and found continued overwhelming opposition to the new law.
29% strongly or somewhat agreed with the new law despite the Police discretion clause, while 62% strongly or somewhat disagreed with the law. 9% had no opinion either way.
“This law will turn the huge proportion of good parents and grandparents into law-breakers and politicians have failed to hear and acknowledge the voice of NZ’ers,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
82% said that the new law should be changed to state explicitly that parents who give their children a smack that is reasonable and for the purpose of correction are not breaking the law.
When asked whether their support for a party would be affected if they promised to change the law, 31% said they would be more likely to vote for that party, 6% less likely, and the policy would make no difference to 59% of voters. 4% didn’t know. 78% of respondents said that despite the new law, they would continue to smack their child to correct their behaviour if they believed it was reasonable to do so.
“This result is surprising, and a huge concern to us,” says Mr McCoskrie. “For a new law to be ignored by so many people who are willing to risk a police investigation indicates just how out of step with reality this law is. NZ’ers have not been fooled by the claims of the anti-smacking lobby that smacking is child abuse, they haven’t been duped by dodgy research attempting to suggest that children are damaged by reasonable smacking, and they have understood that our
unacceptable rate of child abuse has far deeper root causes that a loving parent who corrects their child with a smack on the bottom.”
When asked whether they thought the new law was likely to help reduce the rate of child abuse in NZ, 77% responded that it was not at all likely. Only 5% thought it was very likely, and 17% said somewhat likely. “This is a significant result. Politicians were hijacked by ‘feel-good’ ideology and law-making, but NZ’ers have not been fooled,” says Mr McCoskrie. “NZ’ers didn’t see the need for the law change in the first place, and they still don’t see the need. They desparately want politicians to tackle the real causes of child abuse without penalising good parenting practice.”
“The late addition of the Police discretion clause has not reassured parents as the politicians believed it would.” As a result of these survey findings, Family First is calling on MP’s to amend the bill, so that the law explicitly states that reasonable smacking for the purpose of correction is not a criminal act.
“Parliament should also give urgent priority to understanding and addressing the wider causes of family breakdown, family violence and child abuse in NZ – a sentiment shared by 200,000 NZ’ers who have already signed the petition demanding a Referendum on this issue,” says Mr McCoskrie.
The poll was conducted during the week beginning June 11. The margin of error for the survey is +/- 3.3 percent at a 95 percent confidence level.