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Ideology behind anti-smacking lobby

Filed under: Domestic Violence,General — JohnPotter @ 12:08 pm Sat 18th June 2005

Trickery, ideology and a largely sympathetic media behind anti-smacking lobby
Barbara Faithfull

As usual with the corporal punishment issue, with the publicity surrounding Sue Bradford’s bill to repeal Section 59 of the Crimes Act I see a mass of misleading and biased media coverage. Having followed attempts to ban smacking in N.Z. for 25 years, I can say categorically that it is ideologically driven. Therefore, instead of reasoned and informed debate the N.Z. public is constantly being deceived and misinformed.. The issue is invariably masked with devilishly fallacious argument and extreme and emotive rhetoric to sway public opinion.

Hence the latest pretext for this push to abolish CP: that the present law is inadequate because it “allows” parents to even use whips etc. on children. It allows no such thing. It only allows for reasonable force to be used, and if the courts/juries make problematic judgements and cannot even determine that using whips etc. is unreasonable, then that is a problem for the courts/juries to sort out, or for a clarification of the definition of what constitutes “reasonable force”. It is not good reason to throw the baby out with the bathwater and abolish a parent’s right to administer reasonable force to an errant child.

Before getting to the ideological aspect of this issue, just a few examples of the typical deviousness and straight-out dishonesty perpetrated by the anti-CP brigade, and note how their excuses to abolish such legislation change over time.

25 years ago Section 59 of the Crimes Act also allowed for CP in schools. Parents had the same right as is in today’s Section 59, but back then they also had the right to delegate it to school staff, kindergarten staff etc… (“to any child or pupil under his care”) to administer punishment to their children.

By 1981, however, the radical (Auckland) Feminist Teachers formed CAVE (Campaign Against Violence in Education). The attack was on to remove half of Section 59 : the right of parents to have schools administer CP on their behalf, if deemed necessary.

Also behind CAVE was the (Cuban-aligned communist) Trotskyist Socialist Action League (SAL, now Communist League); one of their key lobbyists was Matt Robson, then a teacher at South Auckland’s Tangaroa College and later a lawyer, and now a Progressive MP. As well, SAL leader back then, Keith Locke, is now a fellow Green M.P. of the sponsor of the bill, Sue Bradford. She of course is a communist, but of the Maoist variety.

Throughout their 1980’s campaign CAVE used every trick in the book to deceive and mislead the public about their real goal and the ideology driving them. They rigidly stuck to the line that they were simply opposed to “violence” and wanted a “violence-free school system” etc. Oh, no, they had no intention of trying to have home CP abolished, a goal which I constantly accused them of.

I could write a book about all of the trickery involved with that campaign and of the activists who paraded unchallenged through the media mouthing their supposed concerns about “violence in schools” (“We don’t hit big people”… “children will grow up to be violent” etc.)

Then, after the 1989 removal from Section 59 of parents’ right to have CP administered in schools, the battle turned to removing this right from parents in the home. Yet we never read or hear of this historical background to the issue, let alone of the insidious ideological influence behind it. To reveal that would just be the death knell to the credibility of the whole anti-CP brigade.

So what is its real background? I’ve mentioned the Feminist Teachers and the Trotskyist S.A.L. but it gets even deeper than this. It goes back to the very United Nations itself. Take for example the N.Z. anti-CP group EPOCH (End Physical Punishment of Children). Beth Woods is spokesman for that group as well as for UNICEF, and UNICEF has an “Anti-War Agenda” which includes “the resolving of differences without violence”.

The N.Z.Herald of 13th March 1996 had a refreshingly revealing feature on this headed “Violence is children’s way of life”. Because of many worrisome aspects of children’s lives worldwide, UNICEF has launched this Anti-War Agenda which aims to protect such children.

However, reported there, “it is also seen as consolidating awareness of the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child.” The report then lists the main points of that Anti-War Agenda, one of which reads :-

Education for peace as part of the school year, all countries should include methods of resolving conflict that develop mutual understanding and show how differences can be resolved without violence.

Interestingly enough that Herald report appeared the same morning as media pandemonium erupted about a so-called epidemic of school bullying, which it transpired (after I had notified ZB’s Leighton Smith and he had investigated further) was a deliberate anti-violence campaign concoction, pure and simple, with “statistics” from the office of the Children’s Commissioner, who of course is a UN representative, no less!

So the UN, “peace” campaigners, “anti-bullying” campaigners, “child rights” activists and general fellow leftists, including the atheistic Secular Humanists who are notoriously anti all legitimate authority, are all part of the “anti-violence” mix here, and ultimately the international anti-war pacifist movement. Also, no surprise that our very leftist Labour Government is to support the Bradford bill to Select Committee stage. It will be no coincidence that one of its favourite (list) MP’s-in-waiting, long-time political lesbian Maryan Street, was a key figure in Feminist Teachers when CAVE was founded around 1980-81.

Now for some present day examples of dishonest, misleading and emotive CP debate and just plain unsubstantiated hokum:-

Plunket. Radio 12th June 2005. Spokesman Deborah Morris-Traver (?) says smacking children creates fear, undermines their mental health and wellbeing, and sense of trust between parents and children, “and therefore it doesn’t teach children to — er — alter their behaviour in a positive way….research shows it is not an effective form of discipline.” (All entirely unquestioned and unchallenged)

Plunket N.Z. President Kaye Crowther, interviewed by Paul Henry on Radio Live 13th June 2005. Ostensibly, their concern was simply with the alleged inadequacies of Section 59, (i.e. in relation to recent puzzling jury decisions etc.) yet she hedged every time she was asked hers and Plunket’s view of ordinary, reasonable smacking (which she insisted upon calling “violence”) making it only too clear that their true, deeper concern was to have smacking banned altogether : “It’s no longer acceptable….want to make N.Z. a safer place….violence not acceptable anywhere..”

So while Plunket gives the impression that their support for Bradford’s bill is concern about the alleged inadequacy of Section 59, and, therefore, that they would be satisfied with it if there were more satisfactory court outcomes, etc., it seems that they really oppose any corporal punishment whatsoever , even the most reasonable, but are reluctant to admit it!

Sue Bradford. Interviewed by Paul Henry on Radio Live, on 10th June 2005. She also rigidly described all smacking as “violence” and even “assault”, no matter how light it might be. She artfully declared that her bill “Just simply repeals Section 59. It doesn’t do any more than that, e.g. suddenly criminalise smacking.” No, that would require further legislation, which would be sure to follow!

However Bradford did reveal a little of her extreme views. When Maxim Institute’s Greg Fleming said that repealing Section 59 would take away a parent’s authority, “and we don’t want to do that”, she lamely retorted : “It’s really the old idea that parents have such control over their children that we can assault them quite badly” etc….

To a question of wanting a legal definition (in Section 59) of what is acceptable physical force, she doesn’t want this : “Because then all you’re doing is calibrating what degree of violence you’re allowed to use against our children”. Then, a veiled admission to what really motivates her : “We belong to the Convention on the Rights of the Child — that you don’t commit acts of violence against children!” Moreover, that same day on Radio N.Z. Morning Report she expressed the hope that children also would send in submissions, if and when they are called for on her bill!

I’m sure there will be some opponents of CP, perhaps swayed by the traditionally one-sided debate on it, who are well intentioned and with only the most honourable of motives. Nevertheless, the evidence of over 25 years convinces me that overall, diehard anti-CP lobbyists can be sly, shifty, slick talkers, dishonest and hypocritical. They talk around what they really believe and really want; anything, it seems, but admit outright their true deeper motivation and goal — the UN – child rights — undermining of school and parental authority, and “empowering” of youth – because they will well know that that would be the death knell to their credibility and there would be a public uprising against them.

So the linking of inadequate court decisions on corporal punishment cases of late to a call to repeal Section 59 of the Crimes Act would seem to be but one more convenient pretext for pushing this covert ideological cause. After all, it has been bubbling along for 25 years, certainly long before the occurrence of such recent worrying court outcomes.


  1. What a frightening, authoritarian and old-fashioned view! Babara Faithfull, you have such conviction behind your proclamations that it seems you are afraid of change and progress towards a better future. I do not agree with your article in any way shape or form but would like to point out that in the last few years we have seen some horrific examples of child abuse- the law changes proposed would foster a decrease of abuse by parents, obviously not every parent wishes to abuse their children, but innocent children die every year from injuries inflicted upon them by their parents. Would saving these guileless children not be enough motivation to sacrifice harsh, violent smacking of any apparant ‘force’. It doesn’t matter how hard you hit a child- that child will still remember that they have been smacked. Some may argue that this helps them to remember not to behave badly but, I ask you, what is the point of inflicting pain on your child, your own flesh and blood, when another strategy could be much more effective. Smacking, simply, is violent and lazy parenting. Oh, and one last thing, mentioning Maryan Street’s sexuality makes you look petty and low, and discriminative. Get a life.

    Comment by E. Marvelly — Fri 15th July 2005 @ 12:18 pm

  2. Call me old-fashioned then, but a New Zealand where The Family (the REAL family with Mum and Dad and the children and the aunties, uncles, grand-parents, nieces and nephews) is actively attacked by neo-fascist, socio-communist homosexual politicians who are not parents does not equate to “a better future” in my eyes.

    While I disagree with physical abuse of any person (be they big or small), I also disagree with verbal and psychological abuse. For instance, I will never punish my Team by making them “stand in the corner” because of the significant damage this does to their self-esteem and self-worth. We do use time-out [in a non-interesting, but neutral space] and restriction of privileges when it is appropriate.

    You speak of a “better future”, but I see a New Zealand that is purely a freak show. Politicians such as Carter and his Primary School boy-friend who claim to be “fathers” to a daughter they “conceived” with two lesbian “mothers” are giving the New Zealand I know and love a very bad name.

    And check out the anti-clark refusing to sign New Zealand up to the United Nations Doha Declaration upholding The [biological] Family and encouraging marriage. This about says it all: aunty Helen had such an “awful” childhood that has left her soul so impoverished she is now acting out all of her childhood insecurities and fantasies on New Zealand!

    What have these neo-fascist, socio-communist homosexuals ever done to make New Zealand a better place for our children? Absolutely nothing.

    Throw out the anti-clark and all of her funny-boy and funny-girl worshippers: Bring back a “family friendly” New Zealand!

    Comment by Sparx — Tue 19th July 2005 @ 10:41 am

  3. Family friendly New Zealand sounds wonderful- a happy place where Mum, Dad, Kids, Grandma and Grandad, Aunties, Uncles and Cousins live together in a safe tight-knit community without homosexuals and communists.

    Perhaps you have not realised, but modern society cannot be put into a box such as this.

    New Zealand prides itself on being accepting and non-judgmental to all people and endeavours to ensure that people live together in the closest thing possible to harmony. I do not believe that homosexuals or communists have anything to do with this argument, which, may I remind you is about smacking. It is irrelevant whether a family unit consists of Dad, Mum and child, or Dad, Dad and child, so please, do not bring emotional, stereotypical and judgemental comments into this. If you would like to voice your views on your dislike of people with certain sexual preferences or political beliefs please do- ON A FORUM WHERE IT IS RELEVANT TO DO SO.

    You must understand that society simply cannot go backwards. You say that you disagree with physical, verbal and psychological abuse on any person (be they big or small), but yet you discriminate against people. Surely you must realise that discrimination is a form of abuse.

    I am absolutely thrilled that you agree that smacking is simply unacceptable, but please don’t set a double-standard. Old fashioned or otherwise, contradictions are never a good look.

    Onwards and upwards I say, to a better future without smacking and the ‘old fashioned’ mindset of discrimination.

    Comment by E. Marvelly — Tue 19th July 2005 @ 2:57 pm

  4. E,

    Please excuse me playing devil’s advocate for a minute.

    Perhaps you can take a leaf from your own book and simply accept that Sparx’ opinion is different to yours?

    Comment by Ethos — Fri 22nd July 2005 @ 2:00 pm

  5. E,

    An interesting perspective. Perhaps you missed the part of my message that the current Labour government have openly chosen not to sign up to the UN Doha declaration upholding The [biological] Family and encouraging marriage?

    This seems to strongly suggests that the current government do not support The [biological] Family in New Zealand.

    That a large number of our current politicians are homosexuals is public knowledge. That the Labour Party policy is based on the socialist ideal and the teachings of Lenin and Marx is also public knowledge.

    That homosexuals [in any animal population] cannot be biological parents is also a known.

    It appears you may not be aware that this means a large number of our politicians are not, and can never be, parents. Therefore, how are they in any way, shape or form qualified to make judgements about parenting?

    From the preceeding, it is very possible to see how “homosexuals and communists” do feature in the argument.

    You also must question what legislating against smacking is going to achieve. It would seem the goal is to turn any parents who smack their child into a criminal. This, in and of itself, is appalling.

    There is, from my perspective, an enormous difference between a “smack” and physical abuse. I also feel legislation such as this may be intended to address the physical abuse aspect, but [as with a number of Labour party reactions] it is purely knee-jerk and not well thought out. If it is intended to attempt to address the abuse aspect, it is failing the many, many parents who do not beat their children half to death.

    As for your claim about discrimination, you should be very careful. The current Labour government are actively discriminating against parents and children in a number of areas of legislation. There is no sign that they will cease and desist in the near future; rather the discrimination appears set to increase.

    Consider, as an interesting comment on politics in New Zealand, that we have, for the last 10 years known we are increasing our consumption of electricity by [about] 2.5% per annum. During this time and for some time before, the Green Party [by exploiting the RMA] have thwarted every attempt to increase our electricity generation capacity.

    This means that sometime around 2007, we are likely to exceed our capacity to generate electricity. Personally, I like to have a warm shower with (when needed) the light on.

    What is this about? I hear you ask.

    What have our politicians done about this impending electricity crisis? Absolutely nothing! Instead, they have concentrated on openly choosing to not sign the UN Doha declaration, signing up to Kyoto (against expert advice), create the families commission, creating the civil union legislation, creating the care of children bill (which, by the way, does not care for children one little bit), increasing spending in health (but doing over 1,000 fewer operations per year), increasing the powers of the state in areas like child support and taxation et al.

    What this seems to show is that our “elected representatives” are failing to represent their electors – again and again.

    Contrary to your statement that it “is irrelevant whether a family unit consists…”, it does matter. It is becoming known that any replacement for The [biological] Family fails. Where The Family is replaced (solo parents, state institutions etc), this is observed in increased youth suicide rates, increased youth pregnancy, increased youth substance abuse and increased youth crime rates.

    In closing, a “family friendly” New Zealand does not preclude anything else. Rather it is an observation that discrimination against The Family, parents and children is alive and well in present day NZ government and that this behaviour needs to stop.

    Onwards and upwards to a more balanced and family friendly New Zealand.

    Comment by Sparx — Fri 22nd July 2005 @ 3:38 pm

  6. Well, Sparx, I think we’ll have to agree to disagree. I must say that there are some points in your last entry that I cannot argue with.

    I must say though, that discrimination of anyone (including children and the family- biological or not so) is foul. Since I’m not well versed in my legislation (probably understandable, seeing as I’m 16) I cannot provide you with an opinion on the supposed discrimination against children and the family, but I feel that your statement could have been a little hyperbolic.

    Also, I am aware that a homosexual couple physically cannot have children but I have to ask, why should it be a problem whether they can become a parent or not? For example, some of the best teachers I’ve ever had the privilege to study under have been childless, and still they continue to do the best for the children in their charge. The same goes for doctors, and many other people who care for children and families everyday. Just because someone is not, or is incapable of being a parent does not mean they are a sub-standard human being, or, an inept politician.

    Perhaps I can blame my views on the fact that my generation has grown up in the light of equality and acceptance for all, something that I often feel older generations should consider.

    To conclude, I believe that smacking should be abolished and discrimination is vile, and in professional situations rightfully illegal.

    Onwards and upwards to a better future without smacking and discrimination.

    Comment by E. Marvelly — Sat 23rd July 2005 @ 8:31 am

  7. E.M,

    I’m comfortable with agreeing to disagree. Without such discussions there can be no growth and without growth can only come stagnation.

    Discrimination in any form is, as you note, not tenable. As to hyperbole, I’ll leave the comparison up to you 😉

    If you want to have a look at some basics about legislation, you can visit NZ Statutes and Legislation.

    In particular, have a look at the Bill of Rights (1990) and the Human Rights Act (1993). The Human Rights Act sets out what is discrimination and what is “prohibited discrimination” and then goes on to allow the government to enact any legislation they so choose.

    Walk your life’s journey in safety and health!

    Comment by Sparx — Tue 26th July 2005 @ 3:59 pm

  8. Thanks Sparx, I agree with your philosophy on discussion. Also, I’ll have a look at the website on legislation- sounds like a good place to gain some new knowledge.
    Thanks 🙂

    Comment by E. Marvelly — Tue 26th July 2005 @ 4:58 pm

  9. There is a scary roumour / story I heard where CYFS refused to return a child to a family after a judge ruled that the force that had been used was indeed reasonable. Could this be true? Are CYFS really ‘above the law’?

    Comment by Greg — Thu 1st June 2006 @ 10:49 pm

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