It is a shame that we have a Families Commission that is driven by ideology rather than listening to families. Chief commissioner Jan Pryor espouses her beliefs that “positive parenting should never include a smack” (NZ Herald, April 3). Her so-called justification for the anti-smacking laws are inflammatory and continue to vilify good parents who may use a smack as part of good parental correction. [READ MORE]
“Light smacking” and discretion
Richard Ekins, University of Auckland, finds the Government position incoherent and unlawful, New Zealand Law Journal December 2009
Some MPs may have hoped that they were protecting “good parents” when they voted to enact s 59(4). The government may continue to assert that the subsection directs Police not to prosecute light smacking. If it presses this assertion then at some point it risks unlawfully interfering with Police in operational matters and/or unlawfully purporting to suspend an Act of Parliament. However, what Parliament intended when it enacted s 59 – the proposal for action that was open to reasonable legislators at the time of enactment – was to remove any justification for the use of force for the purpose of correction and to affirm that police need not prosecute inconsequential assaults. What this means is that Parliament intended precisely to criminalise parents for light smacking. The amended section neither bars police from prosecuting any particular case, nor limits private prosecutions. Arguably, any Police policy not to prosecute light smacking is unlawful. If the government wishes to protect “good parents” from the criminal law then it cannot rely on s 59(4) but must instead invite Parliament to enact legislation specifying when and how reasonable force – a light smack – for the purpose of correction is justified… [READ MORE]
There can be no doubt that those who promoted the recent amendment to section 59 of the Crimes Act had the best of motives for doing so. There have been far too many cases of appalling violence being used against young children in New Zealand and something had to be done. But did we do the right thing? Did the legislative amendment improve the law or make it worse? And by what yardstick can a situation of that kind be judged?
There are three reasons for concluding that the amendment was an inappropriate response to the problem. The first is that the amendment is an extremely poor piece of legal drafting in that it is calculated to create confusion rather than clarity. The second is that it criminalizes behaviour which should not be classified as a criminal offence. The third is that it fails to provide adequate protection for those whom it was designed to help. [READ MORE]
Jim Evans: New section 59 is clearly a mess
Jim Evans is emeritus professor of law at Auckland University. Published in NZ Herald Aug 06, 2009
..This is not clear legislation. In creating this law, Parliament abandoned its constitutional responsibility to say with clarity just which conduct is criminal. The section results from a political fudge. Whatever other views one takes about the topic of smacking, that much at least ought to be kept clear. [READ MORE]
GP’s grim diagnosis for parents
NZ Herald Jul 29, 2009
An Auckland doctor says a quarter of New Zealand parents can’t control their children. Dr Robyn Theakston, a general practitioner in Three Kings, says the 2007 law banning the use of force for “correction” has made things worse by restricting parents’ disciplinary choices. “As a GP I am sometimes appalled by the results of poor parenting I see – excessive laxity, neglect and cruelty,” she wrote in a Herald online forum on the smacking referendum yesterday. [READ MORE]
Smack on the hand worth time in jail
By Sacha Coburn (Christchurch Businesswoman, Lawyer, and Mother). Published in NZ Herald Feb 2008
I agree with Bob McCoskrie and Larry Baldock. Eight words which churn my stomach as I write them. When left-leaning, social liberals like me are forced to align with the fundies speaking in tongues and organising petitions, you know our little country at the bottom of the world has gone mad.
I want to smack my daughter. At least twice today I’m likely to threaten it and may even make meaningful preparations to carry it out. Send her to her room. Get the wooden spoon out of the drawer. Enough to be arrested for an attempted smack, I’d have thought. Is it wrong to fantasise about a night in the lock-up?
“You mean that in solitary I’d be by myself for 23 hours in a row?”
Smacking my son was a parenting strategy of last resort and was immediately effective when dealing with defiance and dangerous situations. I’ve never smacked in anger and never without issuing a final warning first. I’m a text-book smacker. Pin-up girl has a certain ring to it. [READ MORE]
Next month the country will be confronted by the smacking referendum. The question is simple: “Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?” You vote Yes or No to this question. The only drongos confused by the question are statists. A statist is a person who will manipulate the power of the state to achieve the implementation of their world view based on their values. The blunt instruction, direction and force of the state, backed by Parliament, police, courts and jails, is used to enforce their world view.
You have to hand it to those who obtained the right to actually run this referendum. Parliament’s clerk must approve the wording of the petition, and further, he must get a checked sample of 10% of enrolled electors to sign. This is a high threshold to overcome but has been achieved. The referendum should have been conducted at our last general election and would have saved over half the money being spent now. [READ MORE]
Smacking – beneficial or harmful?
Dr Philip Wescombe is a concerned father of three boys, a Microbiologist by trade and stood as a candidate in Dunedin South for the Kiwi Party at the 2008 general election. Published in Christchurch Press 19 August 09
With the referendum looming there has been increasing scrutiny of the wording “Should a smack as part of good parental discipline be a criminal offence in New Zealand?” Many commentators have derided the “good parental discipline” component, saying they don’t believe good parents smack their children. I would challenge these commentators to come up with the scientific research to back up their opinions. As will be outlined below, there is considerable solid evidence in the scientific literature that supports the use of spanking/smacking as a useful and beneficial tool for loving parents who raise healthy, well adjusted children. [READ MORE]
Linley Boniface (A question smacking of deceit, June 8th) is right on one thing. We should not be spending $10 million on a referendum on the anti-smacking law. But we are for two reasons. First, the politicians failed to listen to the overwhelming majority of Kiwis who knew the law change would do nothing to tackle our horrendous rate of child abuse (and it hasn’t). Second, the previous government failed to hold the referendum at the more economical time of a general election because it knew the issue would bring about its downfall. It did anyway.
But Boniface needs correction on many other things. A total of 113 politicians did vote for the law – after being whipped to vote that way by Helen Clark and John Key. Phil Goff and Paula Bennett have now admitted they don’t agree with the law as stated. The law change was labelled the anti- smacking bill because this is what the architect of the law change (Green MP Sue Bradford) called it. And groups who supported it, such as Barnardos, Plunket, Epoch and the previous children’s commissioner, have all been calling for a ban on smacking since 2001.
The question “Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in NZ?” was publicly notified for submissions in 2007 but there was no opposition from these groups at that time. They never believed that more than 300,000 voters would sign a petition demanding a say on this issue, the majority of whom signed the petition after the amendment was passed. Those who oppose the question simply don’t like the answer they came to: No! [READ MORE]
Smacking law needs fixing
Otago Daily Times 5 June 09
Richard Dawson argues that rather than encouraging good parenting the “smacking law” undermines self-confidence and is actually “a form of violence against ordinary parents”.
“Parenting is perhaps one of the most important tasks anyone can take on. Our society provides virtually no training for it and very little material encouragement to parents. Now we have a law which makes a criminal out of a parent who has tried to stay in the game even though they might be getting it a bit wrong. I can’t think of anything more discouraging to young parents who already lack confidence and knowledge. The law has become a form of violence against ordinary parents who are trying to do the job, even if badly at times. We need to fix this law and find a more positive approach to parents and parenting. ” [READ MORE]