Saturday, May 24, 2008

"If you don't sign you can't complain"

If You don't sign the petition calling for a referendum on the "anti-smacking' law then you can't complain about the law at present.

With just over 1 month till we have to submit the petition back to the Clerk of the House to check for validity, NOW is the time to sign in order to have some democracy over the "anti-smacking" law.

Please go NOW to and print it sign it and post them into P.O. Box 9228 Greerton, Tauranga.

Also you could email your friends and family and ask them to sign it, or alternatively take it into work. You will be amazed by the positive response. Or do both

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Debate on the Anti-Smacking Law

On 21 May 2008, Bob McCoskrie (National director of Family First), Beth Wood and Ian Hassle (former Children's Commissioner), authors of the book entitled "unreasonable force: nz's journey to banning physical punishment of children" are interviewed on the Good Morning Show (TV1) by host Sarah Bradley.

Below are some excerpts from the interview - which can also be viewed by clicking here. comments in bold. This interview is well worth watching - or simply reading over the comments. Bob is in his element, and secures the interview as yet another victory for Family First, in using reason and common-sense to back up the sentiments held by the majority of New Zealanders.

Sarah: "Last year the so called so-called anti-smacking-bill was passed into law, removing the defense of parental reasonable force in cases of assault on children...

Sarah is here claiming that the approximately 83% of parents who reserve the right to use a smack as part of the training of their children - are in fact, child abusers

A little later on in the interview, Bob holds up a copy of the Green's original Anti-Smacking Bill, pointing out that it was in fact the Green Party who gave the bill it's name., Bob, the evidence shows that hitting children does not achieve anything, why does Family First still think it's an ok thing to do?"

Bob responded by first mentioning that saying "hitting" instead of "smacking" is over the top and unreasonable. He then references the research done in Otago two years ago, which found that adults who had been smacked occasionally as children performed as well as or better than children who had not been smacked. He continues, pointing out that time-out can also be missused by parents...

"[Smacking] is reasonable and appropriate in the circumstances... it is not child abuse!... It is done by a parent who simply wants to correct their child."

Sarah turns to Beth and Ian...

"Let's talk about that, Beth and Ian, because do you think that "appropriate" [sarcastic] smacking of children is child abuse?"

Beth: "I don't think smacking is appropriate, but i don't think a little smack is child abuse either... However many many children experience serious assault - not a small smack with an open hand.

Hang on - so you support the law that criminalises parents who smack their children - however you also think that a smack is ok?

Ian: "The law was really, it was an intrusive law, Section 59 what it said was that "parents who were prosecuted for assault on their children could mount a defense on the grounds that simply that they were their parents, and therefore entitled to hit their children"."

Let me first point out that Ian is completely twisting the meaning of the law here. The law stated...

(1) Every parent of a child and, subject to subsection (3) of this section, every person in the place of the parent of a child is justified in using force by way of correction towards the child, if the force used is reasonable in the circumstances.

All Section 59 did was to determine between abuse - and child-discipline. If the force used was not reasonable in the circumstances, then the law regarding abuse was applied to the case. If the force used was reasonable, then there was no problem - the parent had not in fact, broken the law. Ian's statemtent that the law said that parents were entitled to hit their children is quite simply disgusting and depraved. The law never permitted "hitting" of children, but rather a smack, and then only if the force used was reasonable (ie. caring, loving, for the purpose of correction, and for the good of the child)

Bob: "No it didn't"

Ian: "Oh yes it did"

Bob: "That's a total misrepresentation"

Ian: "Yes it did"

Bob: "Because the word was that it had to be reasonable, they were justified if it was reasonable, and for correction. and for 99.9% of the cases, it worked perfectly. yes there were a couple of cases which raised eyebrows, I acknowledge that"

Exactly Bob. Child abuse is utterly abhorent to us - however Section 59 as it was - did an extremely good job of differentiating between abuse and a smack.

Ian: "The thing about section 59 of the crimes act was that it singled out children as a group in the population for people being allowed to strike them, to assault them in effect. the assault law covers everybody except children. And so it was essentially to restore the balance... to ensure that children had the same protection as adults. Now this doesn't mean that every assault, every technical assault on children, or adults, or anybody else becomes prosecuted or ends up in the courts, um, technically, if I'm in a bar and I jostle somebody because I want to get there, that's an assault. but nobody prosecutes...
...and there was the famous case of Tana Umaga, hitting, with the handbag, now that's an assault, it wasn't prosecuted, so it wasn't criminal" [emphasis mine] this whole miasma of criminalisation that's been put up by Bob and his friends has no foundation. It's about, um, having equal rights under the law, children having equal rights under the law."

Ian can't bear the truth. The Anti-Smacking law does indeed criminalise parents who smack their children for the purpose of correction.

Ian Hassle has been part of New Zealand's beurocracy for far too long. His smooth but irrational spin is lavished over everything he says. Just for one example of the dangerous concepts Ian obviously embraces, take his use of the word "balance". "Restoring the balance". Ian is here calling for child autonomy, though not in so many words.

Sarah here turns to Bob...

Sarah: "Bob, why do you think, like, for example Bob, you would not take kindly if I came and hit you or smacked you with an open hand, but you think it's ok to hit, to smack your child... Why have you got the right to do that, but I haven't got the right to do that to you?"

Oh, one small reason Sarah, - you're not Bob's mum.

Bob: "Well Sarah, I guess I can say to you as a mum is that you cannot tell Ian and Beth to go and clean their bedroom, you can't tell them to eat their peas, or get in the car so you can take them shopping, but you can certainly do that to your three-year-old. There is a special relationship between parents and kids..."

Sarah interupts, "I would never hit my child"

And good on you, aren't you just relieved then, that no law has been passed, demanding that all parents smack their children?

Bob: "No, but a smack is ok because it's part of the correction process, which is being used effectively - now, some people don't like to smack, and they say "I don't smack", that's fine, this isn't just about smacking, this is actually about the role of parents who know their kids the best, and freedom to raise them if they're doing it in a reasonable way. You see, you may prefer time-out. But once again, time-out can become abuse when it becomes neglect. You could give them withdrawal of priviliges, but once again, that can become neglect as well. You could just scream at them, and that can become psychological abuse, so you know, every technique used by parents can become abuse but, you know, back to the crimes act, it has always been a crime to assault anybody, whether its a kid or not. All Section 59 did, was acknowledge the relationship between a parent and a child, and said "if it's part of the parenting process, just in the same way I can tell my kid that they have to eat their peas before they have pudding, I can also give them a tap on the bum and say, "you need to correct this behaviour" - not a big deal."

Beth starts explaining how Section 59 was the last law that allowed anybody to hit anybody, however Bob interjects and says:

"Except for the use of the baton by police, and tazers. Once again, it has to be reasonable, appropriate in the circumstances. You can't just say that nobody can touch another person, that we've got that out of the law - it's not the case. What about on a rugby field, some of those tackles would be an assault if they were done in the main street. Once again, it's context - what's reasonable?"

Ian responds...

"Why are you talking about this punishment? We're talking about children here, we're talking about the people we've chosen to have, to live with us in our household, why can't we have a more peaceful reasonable relationship with them, why are we always talking in New Zealand about hitting them and controlling them, time-out and all of those things - these are, these are human beings that we choose to live with."

Are we indeed always talking about hitting and controlling children?

Bob: "Yeah, that's true, but maybe we should do away with fines and do away with prisons, I mean at the end of the day there has to be consequences..."

Sarah wraps up the interview, however Bob gets one more word in,

"In 2007, the Unicef report on child abuse, in the top ten countries who have the lowest level of child abuse, six of them had not banned smacking. The safest country for kids to live in was the Netherlands, at the time of the report, they had not banned smacking."
The above quotes are as accurate as possible, taken from this interview.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

14yr Old's Satire Exposes Anti-Smacking-Law Folly

from | Concern Over Proposed 'Garden Laws'

The upcoming anti-pruning bill is ridiculous! New Zealand's garden party heads this campaign to stop all plant abuse and stick up for plants' rights. Laws against starting destructive fires and wantonly chopping down plants and trees already exist, rendering this change unnecessary. Replacing the old bill, which justifies the use of force on plants for correction and training, smacks of foolishness. The only purpose for which they will allow force is to restrain plants from harm to themselves or others. How can plants grow properly when they cannot be corrected?

The current legislation allows the "use of force" for correction and training of flora and fauna. It states that every gardener is justified in using force by way of training a plant if that force is reasonable in the circumstances. The new law achieves a full repeal of the old legislation and removes any common law rule having the same effect. This bans not only pruning, but many other valuable gardening strategies, including weeding and staking. Why tolerate a law against techniques proven successful and harmless over centuries?

With the majority of New Zealanders against the new legislation, chances of it passing appear slim, but this government often arrogantly disregards the people's opinions. Polls show that an outstanding 78% of the population oppose this bill. They realize that this change will consider talented, successful gardeners criminals under the law. Disobedience discovered means plants uprooted at great risk and placed in other care. Some will always hurt plants, but this legislation will not stop them. It will only hinder good gardeners from effectively doing their job. Get the government out of gardens!

Research shows that many of the proposal's banned procedures actually improve growth. Staking plants, which they say violates plants' rights to freedom, truly helps. A case researching the advantages of staked vs. unstaked tomato plants, revealed that damage by all species reduced significantly in staked plants. Numbers of the deadly granulate cut worms and southern army worms also inhibited by staking. Stakes and trellises not only reduce much damage to plants from other creatures, but provide support, preventing taller plants from giving way and plants with sprawling growth habits from growing wild.

Opposing this proposition is necessary. While the government tries to oversee gardeners' ways by making beneficial actions illegal, many more important issues will be overlooked. This change gives "Advice to the Police that they may use discretion about whether prosecution is necessary or not when cases of minor assaults on plants come to their notice." When more significant problems need control, why should police time be wasted pursuing and prosecuting actual effective training? The government needs to enforce laws which truly stop violence against plants. Take action against this ludicrous proposal. Write letters, phone MP's, publish articles, spread the word, and sign petitions. Will you let our nation be harmed?

Fourteen year old, Bethany Robb