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One step over the line.

Filed under: General — Downunder @ 3:54 pm Thu 22nd February 2007

There are no grounds for the alteration of section 59 of the Crimes Act, on the basis of child welfare. The proposal of this bill was only ever intended to empower the state in its authority over the child, and to empower the family court. Even the alteration being proposed by Chester Burrows is unacceptable. Mothers and Fathers must never be open to or subject to any threat or allegation that undermines that authority. Any change to this legislation will not protect the children who are most vulnerable. If children are ill treated it is a time to help. We have created a climate of fear in households where those that need help fear asking because of the consequences they might face. Parents will fear admitting the truth because it will bring prosecution instead of help. We have always had the means to help and we still do. This raging debate is not about is not about welfare, it is about power. Authority invested in the family being transferred to the state. It is an unfortunate fact of life that some parents will fail, and some parents will fail their children, but we cannot ever criminalise the position of mother and father. If we start imprisoning parents we will not be locking up child abusers, we will be incarcerating failed parents One step in the wrong direction is one step too far. We should concern ourselves about community, and how to help each other, not about dominion over one another.


  1. The person who posted the death threat against the MP who wants to abolish hitting children did his cause no good at all — quite clearly, anyone who disagrees with him should be killed!

    Methods of disciplining children are a factor in determining aggression and antisocial conduct. Parents from lower socioeconomic strata tend to display a number of attitudes and child rearing practices that have been found to be strong correlates of childhood and adolescent aggression. For example, they often display less warmth and more hostility towards their children than middle class parents do; they also tend to rely more on physical punishment to discipline aggression and non-compliance, thus modeling aggression even as they are trying to suppress it (Dodge et al., 1994, Patterson, DeBaryshe, & Ramsey, 1989, Weis et al., 1992).

    Children who learn that they will be hit, kicked or shoved when displeasing parents will probably direct the same kinds of responses toward playmates who displease them (Hart, 1990). In Fiji they have a proverb that says ‘There is no problem that can’t be fixed with a punch’. Say no more! Physically abused children are much more likely to accept that other people outside the home have the right to hit, kick or punch them as well.

    Lower socioeconomic strata parents are also more inclined to endorse aggressive solutions to conflict and to encourage their children to respond forcefully when provoked by peers (Dodge et al., 1994). — practices that that may foster the development of the hostile attributional bias that highly aggressive youngsters typically display. Lower socioeconomic strata parents and single mothers are often less inclined to manage or monitor their child’s whereabouts, activities and choices of friends and this lack of parental monitoring is consistently associated with such aggressive or delinquent adult behaviours such as fighting with peers, being hostile towards teachers, destroying property, abusing drugs and generally breaking rules.

    There is one thing however you can be certain of: your children WILL COPY your own examples in life regardless of what you tell them they must do. Most child abuse is perpetrated by women, and most of that abuse is by women who are single parents. We never used physical force to discipline our own children and they are now very well adjusted, secure young men. That way, they also learnt why they couldn’t do what was wrong, not just how to avoid being caught. They have also learnt that it is not acceptable for a peer, an employer or anyone else to use violence against them and knowing it is wrong, they are much more inclined to respond appropriately (even if it means standing up for themselves) rather than just thinking that its something they should have to accept.

    Comment by Anon — Thu 22nd February 2007 @ 5:21 pm

  2. Dear Anon,

    You are assuming that the person who posted the death threat was from amongst those opposed to the change. You are also assuming that the person isn’t intelligent enough to realise that they are being threatened by unwanted social change.

    Simply because you were born with an advantage beyond others and have the ability to achieve a better outcome than some you seem to think you can persecute people for not reaching the same standard. The more people we alienate from society, the bigger prison population we create, the less opportunity we create, the smaller is the number of people huddled in your every decreasing circle of patronising observers.

    Regardless of how much supporting evidence you gather it doesn’t justify legalising your big stick to beat parents who haven’t conformed to your expectations. You don’t extinguish the distance between the social classes by threatening each others existence, nor do you extinguish it by paying people to exist.

    What we are talking about is the legal framework that will support the society we create. It should be a society where people aspire to achieve rather than hide from others demands. Our society isn’t failing because this was or is a bad law; it is because we created circumstances in which people cannot thrive.

    This proposed law change with its proposed amendment will allow all our politicians to have a feel good moment; where else would they get their sense of achievement.

    Comment by Bevan Berg — Thu 22nd February 2007 @ 6:58 pm

  3. Research by the Dunedin multidisciplinary health and development study shows children who are smacked lightly with an open hand on the bottom, hand or leg do much the same in later life as those who are not smacked, The New Zealand Herald reported today.

    The study has followed 1000 children born in Dunedin in 1972-73. Later this year the findings, based on interviews when the subjects were 32-year-olds, will be published.

    The project appeared to be the world’s first long-term study to separate people who had merely been smacked with an open hand, lead author of the physical punishment part of the Dunedin study psychologist Jane Millichamp said.

    “Study members in the ‘smacking only’ category of punishment appeared to be particularly high-functioning and achieving members of society,” she said.

    In terms of aggression, substance abuse, adult convictions and school achievement, this group had “similar or even slightly better outcomes” than those who were not smacked.

    Dr Millichamp said the problem with a lot of studies was that they lumped a range of physical punishments together. She said she had not found any evidence that an occasional mild smack with an open hand on the clothed behind or the leg or hand was harmful or instilled violence in children.

    Dr Millichamp acknowledged this was not a popular thing to say.

    The findings undermine Green MP Sue Bradford’s bill to repeal section 59 of the Crimes Act, which allows parents to use “reasonable force” to discipline children.

    Dr Millichamp said she has made a written submission to Parliament suggesting that section 59 should be retained but amended to allow smacking with an open hand.

    Comment by anon — Thu 22nd February 2007 @ 7:08 pm

  4. I posted comment 1 but did not post comment 3 and I won’t make another post after this. I probably shouldn’t have assumed that the person who posted the death threat was opposed to the smacking bill as someone has suggested. I guess it could have been sabotage but thats getting pretty low. I don’t think any kind of hitting children helps anything as you can get good results without it. Unraveling the distinction between smacking and beating on a case by case basis will be great business for some. What a bloody waste of time and money

    Comment by Anon — Thu 22nd February 2007 @ 7:32 pm

  5. This is about legal position of the mother and the father, and the manner in which we exist together. Other laws will be affected by this law change. Smacking is the vehicle for debate, not the means to understanding the nature of change.

    Comment by Bevan Berg — Thu 22nd February 2007 @ 7:46 pm

  6. I don’t think any kind of hitting children helps anything as you can get good results without it.

    Reality is that the only study that separates smacking out as a form of discipline (see comment 3) shows that what you say is incorrect.

    The reality is that repealing section 59 wont stop abuse of children but it will erode the right of parents to parent their kids even further than now.

    Bevan is right in comment number 5.

    Stalin would be proud of what Bradford is doing.



    Comment by Scrap_The_CSA — Thu 22nd February 2007 @ 8:30 pm

  7. Quote: I guess it could have been sabotage but thats getting pretty low.
    Sorry Anon, you obviously don’t know what low is.

    Comment by Bevan Berg — Thu 22nd February 2007 @ 8:41 pm

  8. From my learning this week by communicating with polititions I know that Labor had asked Sue Bradford to do this. This is only part of Labor’s plan and it involves the charity group SKIP who will receive/has started to receive $10.8 million to train parents on how to discipline children. Seems Sue Bradford is the fall girl. Clever Labor in politics.

    I have already given Chester my support and I think UF also has a good amendment. I was glad National spoke publicly about Pacific Islanders because I believe they will be targetted. (once again)

    As for single parents. Well CYFS gets alot of their children already but more on a possibility of emotional abuse.

    Of course the main charities like Plunket are all for this.

    This is not about one silly womans whim. Big plan this one and has been going on for some time.

    Comment by julie — Fri 23rd February 2007 @ 5:33 am

  9. Prophecy:
    “Your honour, I am applying for this protection order, because I truly believe he might spank our child. On this ground, even though he has no history of violence, I feel threatened and intimidated, and believe he should attend a anti-violence programme, and be subjected to supervised access, in case he suddenly spanks them. He has issues he hs to deal with – he was spanked when he was a child, and thereforecomes from a violent background. His family history of violence predisposes him to being a risk, and therefore should not be entitled to custody, shared custody, or even extended visiting.
    Yours sincerely,
    Agrieved Ex-wife.

    Comment by Al.D.Rado — Fri 23rd February 2007 @ 6:48 pm

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