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National Radio on Children’s Behaviour

Filed under: General — Ministry of Men's Affairs @ 1:40 pm Wed 10th January 2007

I heard an edition of National Radio’s “Best of Insight” late last night entitled “Children’s Behaviour”. This radio documentary was first broadcast in mid 2006. It set out to explore possible changes in children’s behaviour in our time, interviewing teachers, other child experts and some parents and students. I found it noteworthy in several respects.

It stated that New Zealand has the third highest rate of single parent “families” in the OECD. One interviewee made the wise observation that the difficult task of rearing children became much more risky and less effective when undertaken by sole parents functioning with little support in the parenting role.

The documentary referred to serious concerns held by many teachers from pre-school to secondary concerning deteriorating behaviour in students, including several conferences in the last few years specifically devoted to such concerns. The documentary repeatedly emphasized the old (and valid) retort that each generation sees its children as deteriorating, as shown by relevant excerpts from writers from Socrates to Dr Spock. It highlighted claims by experienced pre-school and primary-school teachers that children’s behaviour was essentially the same as it was 30 to 50 years ago. This view though was contradicted by other statements from those and other teachers, and sadly the documentary did not refer to any research that might shed light on the question “should we be concerned about any deterioration in the behaviour of children in our era?”.

However, in the case of secondary schools there seemed to be a strong consensus that pupils’ behaviour had deteriorated seriously with more violence and bullying, less obedience and co-operation, less respect for teachers and for most behavioural rules, and more “disengaging” from the education process and any effort to benefit from lessons. What I found particularly interesting was that all teachers, commentators and the documentary makers steadfastly avoided discussing changes in school discipline and specifically the banning of corporal punishment. The documentary host even claimed that punishments in schools now seemed much the same as in the past. Deterioration in behaviour was attributed to all manner of things including “inadequate home life”, too much effort by modern parents to mould their children, insufficient opportunity for children to develop their own individuality, parents’ expectations that their own personal development and selfish wishes must be fulfilled, the impact of the “me” age on children, lack of community support, poor literacy, boredom, inability to keep up with lessons, wrong teaching styles, technological distractions such as mobile phones and Ipods, limited attention spans due to television and video games, the close scrutiny that children were now subjected to, derogatory stereotypes and descriptions in the news media concerning children, parental insecurity about managing children, less interpersonal respect in society.

The fact that the removal of corporal punishment was totally ignored pointed (I think) to the extent to which politically-correct (largely feminist) ideology has permeated our society and is now considered sacred, beyond scrutiny or challenge. The banning of corporal punishment and the associated, feminist-based ideology about children’s “rights”, “violence is bad and modelling violence through physical force is worse” etc constitute the most obvious and probably the most important factor causing deterioration in children’s behaviour. Voluntary blindness towards this, as demonstrated in the documentary, now also threatens to allow the illegalization of smacking by parents and thereby a further lurch in a direction already shown to be unsuccessful, or at the very least unsupported by any outcome of banning corporal punishment in schools. (Note though that I believe there are positive aspects to some formulation and recognition of rights for children, and there was plenty of need to change the way corporal punishment was used in schools, but the ideology has led to excesses and to throwing the baby out with the bathwater.)

The question “is there deterioration in children’s behaviour worth worrying about?” seems to me similar to the question “is there any real process of global warming worth worrying about?”. There seems to be plenty of evidence suggesting both are real trends with potentially catastrophic results, but global warming is now widely accepted whereas social anarchy in our schools and upcoming generation is denied.

To some extent our blindness to the lack of positive outcome from removing corporal punishment parallels the Swedish stance on their smacking ban. The Swedes committed themselves ideologically to that stance and have gained an international identity as leaders in shaping a “brave new world” of enlightened civilisation; they now ignore the many indicators that the policy is failing to improve their society and instead is degrading it. At some point the social problems caused by Sweden’s policy will increase to a point where the Swedes and onlookers will be forced to acknowledge the truth, but in the meantime they maintain a process of denial and distortion of reality to avoid the need to review the largely feminist ideology on which their policies are based.

But these are only my musings. The Insight documentary itself can be heard anytime through National Radio’s web page.


  1. Dear Hans,
    I think this is a very good story and it has an international appeal, and I’m going to send to the other forums in 7 other countries.

    Comment by Intrepid — Wed 10th January 2007 @ 1:59 pm

  2. I remember an academic who claimed as you say that even Socrates complained of deteriorating standards of youth behaviour. His dull-witted conclusion was that it provided evidence that any similar contemporary complaints are ill founded. It actually provides no evidence of anything. All I have to go on is my own experience and I have witnessed evidence of falling standards in terms of honesty and respect for others. People are much more egocentric now than ever before. Thirty years ago it is a fact that no one locked their homes or cars; there was no need and house break-ins were almost unheard of. Murder was much less common too. How much can be attributed to fatherlessness and the disintegrating family I don’t know but suspect that much of it can for many reasons. I believe that much of the rest of it is because the legal business has been hijacked by lawyers and lawyer-judges for their own gain.

    Comment by eye of the tiger — Wed 10th January 2007 @ 2:33 pm

  3. Good post Hans.
    The problem is far more than discipline and this has been going on for years.

    But wait till 2008. NZ is following Australia and soon we will have contracts instead of wages. Teachers will have to negotiate their pay and the schools with more resources will get the better teachers.

    Home schooling is the way to go or even getting a group of parents together with one teacher and schooling them from one home. You can get resources for that now.

    Comment by julie — Wed 10th January 2007 @ 3:53 pm

  4. Hans, a masterpiece of writing that highlights to me the most relevant factor that has caused the demise of the family and rise in fatherlessness in Western societies.You hit the nail on the head when you say ;
    “ Politically-correct (largely feminist) ideology has permeated our society and is now considered sacred, beyond scrutiny or challenge.”

    How right you are — dam the feminazi’s whores! For example ;

    The damage done to New Zealand by senior policy advisers and writers like the radical feminazi /communist types, like Kay Goodger, who started the rot in the 70’s is bloody disgraceful and these bitches should be hung for treason. These hateful dykes who saturate our Country in all the powerful positions, are now totally rapt that their insidious evil thoughts have escalated into ruinous government policies. They have crushed many families, suicide figures show what they have done to dads, as they enjoy it , and they have created a atmosphere where it is the norm to think that traditional family bonds can be deemed irrelevant or outdated. The family court, cyfs and limp dicked cops are in the business of destroying families, however it is just part of a feminzai regime that is hell bent on destroying the traditional family. Judges enforce the unlawful gender discrimination ideology, which allows these hateful alien bitches to portray the family as no better than other methods of child – rearing. Women can lie and twist the law to suit themselves , as they are not accountable to any human authority!

    The judiciary, sociologists, and politicians fail to understand that children cannot find meaningful gender balanced lessons without the all-important bonds of love, support, discipline and nurturing. Sexism is rampant in a PC society that thinks these vital tools for children can be found in any old social arrangement.

    Hang them now and stop the corrosion .Only this will bring back self esteem for our young lads who are doomed to fail in this dyke cess -pit run country !!!

    I do not mean to offend the real women of New Zealand and I am more than thankful that our Country still has some respectable ladies with common sense.

    Comment by dad4justice — Wed 10th January 2007 @ 3:56 pm

  5. Nicely summarised.

    I agree that the lack of corporal punishment is a factor, but another big contributor is the lack of males involved in education. I’m sure in the old days most schools had a particular teacher who specialised in dealing with the tough kids.

    I also believe that there is a higher proportion of children with personality disorders throughout the education system than there was when I was a child. These children can be probably be identified at preschool level (if they attend).

    According to a social worker I know, by eight or nine some of them are really scary.

    Unfortunately, these people are unlikely to be influenced by campaigns such as “White Ribbon Day”, nor do they take any notice of Domestic Protection Orders.

    Have you seen any kids like this in your Practice, Hans? Do you know of any evidence based treatment programs?

    Here is a direct link to the 27 minute audio Best of Insight: Children’s Behaviour

    Comment by JohnP — Wed 10th January 2007 @ 6:16 pm

  6. Very interesting.
    I for one find it incredible that a government that protects a person like David Benson-Pope, whose actions as a school teacher went way beyond simple corparal punishment or smacking, continues to support the progress of anti-smacking laws.
    I’m a parent, and although I’m proud to say I have never needed to smack my own child who is not yet 4, I know that he and I may at some some time come to that point where a simple smack might teach him something extremely important or even save his life, without causing physical harm or relationship degradation.
    I recieved the strap and the cane during my school years, yet I was not a difficult student nor were my teachers violent. I simply made wrong choices at the time. I am a better person for it, and I hope my teachers carry no guilt.
    Benson-Pope however crossed a line into an area of danger and physical and mental cruely.
    How can a government who supports such cruelty while supporting anti smacking legislation be taken seriously?
    Eyes need to be focused on the area where smacking becomes violence, rather than smacking. The reality is; if our society was really concerned about the seriousnous of smacking, Bensope-Pope would have been imprisoned for his crimes.

    Comment by xsryder — Thu 11th January 2007 @ 8:50 pm

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