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.
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.