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Wed 26th August 2009

Change the “Anti Smacking Law” Prime Minister

Filed under: General,Law & Courts — Julie @ 4:25 pm

Written by Barbara Faithful

Dr. Muriel Newman has produced the attached impressive editorial on the chicanery behind the smacking referendum and its aftermath. In my view some highlights of it are :-

Firstly, she points out that the 54% response rate to it (so derided by the anti-smacking lobby) “is almost the same as the turnout in the (2002) referendum which led to a change in New Zealand’s voting system from First Past the Post (FFP) to Mixed Member Proportional (MMP)….. (then) Some 55% of registered voters took part…and an overwhelming 85% voted to change the electoral system…70% of voters favoured MMP.”

Dr. Newman continues : “This referendum resulted with a 55% response rate and an 85% majority vote was deemed to be conclusive enough to trigger the second referendum, which changed New Zealand’s voting system. In fact at the time Mike Moore, then leader of the Labour Party, said of the result : ‘The people didn’t speak on Saturday, they screamed.’ Well, Mister Key, the public have once again screamed!” etc.

Secondly, she asserts that Section 59 of the old law was very clear in its intent and was working well. “It said that parents could smack their children for the purposes of correction but they could not assault them. That meant that any parent who used unreasonable force against a child would be prosecuted for assault….over a twenty year period there were only a handful of cases where a Section 59 defence was successfully used. That is, in the vast majority of child assault cases the parents were appropriately prosecuted for their offence. That is the hallmark of a law that is working.”

Thirdly, … “the law was not changed because it was not working well… (but) because a Green Party MP decided to force an agenda being run by the United Nations onto New Zealand. Philosophically she believed that the ban on corporal punishment by parents being promoted by the United Nations was superior to the laws of New Zealand when it came to how families raise their children. Sue Bradford couched the smacking ban as being a way to stop child abuse in New Zealand…..New Zealand remains the only English speaking nation misguided enough to have imposed a total ban on smacking.”

Fourthly, (inter alia) Dr. Newman says “Without a doubt this government needs to turn its focus on to the causes of family dysfunction that are at the heart of this country’s horrendous child abuse crisis.” She then introduces a refreshingly new perspective to this problem by referring to how last May the Families Commission published a report ‘Healthy Families, Young Minds and Developing Brains : Enabling all children to reach their potential.” She explains : “I thought (it) might provide some guidance on ways to reduce child abuse and disadvantage..(so) I asked Professor Richard Whitfield, a British child development expert….if he would firstly, review the report…and secondly, make some suggestions for further action…” *

Dr. Newman then quoted Professor Whitfield, how he had been to New Zealand on 19 occasions since 1974, and had watched “with some sadness…… (NZ) catch more than its fair share of the stultifying speak of ‘political correctness’. Sadly that tends to mean the death of commonn sense, if not some fear of truth, as the limits of what is publicly discussable shrink, along with the extension of bureaucratic legislation that cramps initiative within limits that are now crucial for a decent social ecology.”

He is critical of much of the report… “several glaring omissions…barely a mention of family structure as a related variable concerning stress and trauma : the whole complex and delicate arena of divorce and separation, parenting alone, mother-father relationships and their sufficient stability for children’s well-being….” etc.

Dr. Newman : “Professor Whitfield concludes his review by explaining that the report is so politically correct that it seems ‘a near total waste of Kiwi taxpayers’ money.'” She then concludes by pointing out that “until politicians and policy makers recognise that children are more at risk in simgle parent families, and that the government’s Domestic Purposes Benefit is a key factor in encouraging the formation of such households, New Zealand’s child abuse crisis will continue unabated…….this is the sort of issue that the government should have been focussed on all along rather than undermining good parents who are trying to do their best to raise their children well..”

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