Friday, November 23, 2007

Police shrug off criticism of smacking case

This article from - 23 November 07
Of particular interest as it quotes a statement made here on the Section59 blog.

Police are dismissing claims that a controversial law change has made criminals of parents who lightly smack their children, after a man was convicted of assault for smacking his son.

The man, 33, who has permanent name suppression to protect the child's identity, was sentenced in the Masterton District Court this week to nine months' supervision, including parenting and anger-management courses.

The case is believed to be one of the first to come before the courts since a law change in May removed a parent's legal defence of using "reasonable force" for disciplining children.

The prosecutor in the case, Sergeant Garry Wilson, said police evidence included photos of bruises on the boy's shoulder and buttocks.

"It irritates me to hear about people being criminalised about light smacking. These were heavy smacks that had a traumatic effect on the child. And the family members were sufficiently concerned to contact police.

"The family have said that it wasn't the first time," he added.

The man came home one night from work and was told that his 8-year-old son had been in trouble at school.

The summary of facts said: "Becoming angry, the defendant has grabbed the victim's clothes by his shoulder and pulled him up on to the bed.

"He has flipped the victim over his knee and struck the victim three times with an open palm on the buttocks, before roughly sitting him back up."

The man, who pleaded guilty, told police that he had lost his temper and overreacted.

The boy's mother was so concerned that she took photos of her son's injuries and showed them to a relative, who contacted police.

Judge Anthony Walsh said the man might have had a legal defence in the past, but that no longer applied.

"One time, maybe, you could have got away with this, but you can't do that now ... You must understand that what you did amounted to an assault. Our law has been amended so that children are protected."

The decision to prosecute has been praised by child advocacy groups and Green MP Sue Bradford, who put forward the amendment that repealed section 59 from the Crimes Act.

The amendment was criticised for potentially turning parents who lightly smack their children into criminals, but political opposition was mostly dropped after guidelines were added so that an "inconsequential" use of force would not be prosecuted.

Mr Wilson said police had to use discretion in each case, "but when there's injuries, it has to be put before the court, it has to be more than inconsequential".

The court action has prompted internet calls for the amendment to be scrapped. Andy Moore at wrote that the father had gone "just a little bit over the top" but the case didn't warrant police action.

But Family First national director Bob McCoskrie, a vocal critic of the amendment, conceded that any case resulting in bruising should be investigated. But he would not say whether he thought the Masterton case was a reasonable use of force.

The convicted man has previously appeared before the courts, but Mr Wilson did not know why.

The mother had told a court victims adviser the boy's schoolwork had suffered since the incident.

The child's parents were already attending expensive anger-management, parenting and relationship counselling, but under court-ordered supervision the state will now pay.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Whaleoil calls for Key action

A couple of posts from on the new case regarding a father prosecuted for smacking his son.

Email Key


Subject: Time to stand up and be true to your word!

Dear Sir,

We believed you when you said that the first time this happened you would stand up and commit to scrapping this law.
No amount of spin will get you off the hook here.

Please read this :

Now show us that it is worth staying in NZ . And show us that National has some guts.

Kind Regards, Whaleoil


And So it Starts

Three smacks and he's 'guilty' - The Dominion Post: local, national & world news from Wellington's daily newspaper

A man has been found guilty of assault against his child for three smacks on the bum.

Sue Bradford lied to us. She now welcomes this conviction as a good example of the law working as intended. HOLD ON, she said this wouldn't happen that Policce would use discretion and the "law of common-sense" would apply.

This law should be repealed and national should commit to repealing it NOW.


People, email John Key and ask him to take a firm stand on the new law.  He will listen - but only if you speak.

Father sentenced to nine months supervision for smacks

This from The Dominion Post | Thursday, 22 November 2007

"A father who spanked his eight-year-old son on the bottom three times for misbehaving at school is one of the first to be convicted of assault under the law against smacking..." (Click here to read the rest of the article)

This is a bit of a catch 22. While I stand by the loving smack as an effective, positive and even necessary tool for discipline of children by their parents, I am not happy at the prospect of parents smacking/hitting their children out of anger, frustration and annoyance.

However, we members of the public have to be very careful before jumping to conclusions. We know that the media loves to saturate their articles with emotive, exagerated terms and descriptions.

You can't have a whole lot of respect for a mother who would dob her own husband into the police for going just a little bit over the top. Parents don't always get it right, but just because they slip up as in a case like this, I do not believe that it calls for police intervention.


David has got it right:

"Absolute Madness. I was raised on a farm in northland - I know if my father had given me a "time out" i would not have given a S**t. Nothing like a good couple of licks with the stock stick to make you think that shooting the neighbours cows with a slug gun is a really bad idea. Frankly I think it is quite pathetic watching parents 'negotiate' with their totally undisciplined children in the supermarket. I think this legislation should be tossed out the door. How hard is it to say "you are allowed to smack you child on the bum, but your not allowed to punch them in the face" on paper?"

comment on this article:
Man pleads guilty to assault for smacking a child, 22 November 2007

Watch out, It could be you next.

As we have said all along, parents who choose to smack their children will be criminalised.

This from

A father who spanked his eight-year-old son on the bottom three times for misbehaving at school is one of the first to be convicted of assault under the law against smacking.

The Masterton man was sentenced to nine months' supervision yesterday after admitting he had grabbed his son by the shoulder, held him on his knee and hit him with an open hand.

Green MP Sue Bradford has welcomed the conviction, saying the case is a good example of the May law change working as intended.

The controversial legislation removed the defence of reasonable force for parents who physically discipline their children.

But opponents say the conviction is a disgrace.

Family First national director Bob McCroskrie said parents had every reason to be concerned.

"It's the first of what's going to be many cases of the law targeting good parents. Our predictions have come true."

Masterton District Court judge Anthony Walsh told the man, whose wife is expecting their fourth child: "While you may have gotten away with this in the past, it is a case of not now."

The father, 33, who has name suppression to protect his son's identity, smacked his son on October 29. He had returned home from work to hear that his son had caused some problems at school.

The boy was in his bedroom and his father decided to confront him about his behaviour, the court was told.

Becoming frustrated, the father grabbed his son's clothes at the shoulder and pulled him on to the bed.

The father then flipped the boy over his knee and smacked him three times on the bottom with an open palm, before roughly sitting him back up.

The eight-year-old had bruising to his shoulder, the court was told.

The boy's mother, pregnant with the couple's fourth child, is understood to have taken a photograph of the bruise and shown it to a relative, who told police several days later.

The father admitted he had lost his temper. He refused to comment as he left court.

Judge Walsh, hearing the case in Masterton's newly established domestic violence court, said the smacking law change had redefined the way old attitudes toward disciplining children were viewed.

"Our law was recently amended to make it clear that children should be protected. There are other ways that must be taken to discipline children, short of violence, and that means time out and loss of privileges."

Judge Walsh told the father: "A lot of us are parents, we know children can be challenging - but we are the adults."

The father, who pleaded guilty to assault, and his wife had already sought help with anger management, parenting skills and relationship counselling before yesterday's sentencing.

He was sentenced to nine months' supervision - which means the state will now pay for the counselling.

The law took effect in June, after National inserted a clause stating police should not prosecute inconsequential smacking, though guidelines for officers do not define "inconsequential".

Police were told by their bosses that it would be a matter for the courts to determine in test cases.

Ms Bradford said she was pleased the case had been prosecuted.

"Hitting a child is an assault and there is no longer the protection that there used to be where a case like this would never go before the courts."

Police national headquarters had no figures on smacking-related convictions since June. A report is being prepared.


Every parent has a reason to be concerned, SMACKING IS NOW A CRIMINAL OFFENSE.

Monday, November 19, 2007

A Cindy Kiro quote to start the week

from The Briefing Room Monday 19 November

From this mornings Dominion Post

Six months on from the introduction of the new smacking laws, however, those working at the coalface say fears that sparked the backlash have proved unfounded.

Police are due to release a major review of the change within weeks, but family law and child welfare experts say there has been no noticeable change to the way child violence is being reported.

There have been just two media reports of possible cases of parents being reported for smacking, with no action taken, while Child, Youth and Family reports there has been no significant rise in child abuse notifications since the law change.

Children's Commissioner Cindy Kiro said there had been a campaign run by Christian fundamentalist groups which ordinary parents had become caught up in.

"Their [aim] is to run a bigger political agenda and I think they need to be honest about that. I think they used this as a tactic to position a bigger political debate."

Since the change "the sky hasn't fallen in, parents haven't been charged in overwhelming numbers and children haven't been ripped from their families because they received a smack on the hand".

Has flinging "Christian fundamentalist"  about with gay abandon  has become a "tactic" to silence criticism of a "bigger political agenda"?  As a gedankenexperiment  try replacing  the phrase Christian fundamentalist with Jewish.  It makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, when I do it.

In any case the quote  comes at the end of a story reporting on a Fairfax Media-Nielsen poll asking respondents if they thought  the Government had too much control over theirs lives.

No surprise - 57% think they do.

The other 43%   either haven't woken up yet or are content to sit quietly on the mat with their arms folded for the rest of their lives.