18 April 2007
NEWS: Accept anti-smacking bill is flawed says Key
National Party Leader John Key says backers of the anti-smacking bill need to accept that the way the bill is currently drafted will make it illegal to use light smacking for the purposes of correction.
"I will not support a bill that leaves otherwise good parents at the mercy of the police and the judiciary.
"The Greens and Labour now have an opportunity to get closer to the public they serve, by agreeing they've got a major problem with the current wording."
Mr Key says his offer to get around the table with Sue Bradford and Helen Clark remains open.
"But there's no point in proceeding unless Sue Bradford and Helen Clark will accept that light smacking for the purposes of correction will be illegal under their proposals.
"That is the first step towards finding some common ground."
Mr Key has laid down a counter-challenge for Labour to explain how it is that the bill in its current form won't criminalise parents.
"If Labour really believes that 'light smacking for the purposes of correction' will not be outlawed, then they need to explain that. But no matter how you read this bill in its present form it will be illegal to 'lightly smack for the purposes of correction'.
"The way to send a strong message on child abuse is to make the law clear and precise and then to police it strongly and vigilantly. This bill as it stands does the opposite.
"So again I say to Helen Clark and Sue Bradford, if you are genuine in your statements, and genuine in your intentions, then let's get around the table and come up with a set of words we all agree on.
"For me, a result that sees the criminalisation of parents for a light smack is simply not on the table."Tweet
I reckon if the govt fails to sit around the table with Mr Key then they would have scored a home goal, if this goes to a referendum at the time of the next election it could get Nationals base out to vote, this happened in the 2004 US Presidential election where alot of states were asking the electors whether they wanted Gay Marriage, it got the replublican base out and while at the voting booth voted against gay marriage and ticked the replublican box.
I fully agree with Nationals position on this. From what I recall, Sue Bradford opposes Chester Borrow's ammendment because she does not believe that it is the place of the state to define what is or is not acceptable smacking. Her argument is just wrong. The only way the government can create laws to oppose and prosecute child abuse (as of course it should) is to actively draw a line between what is acceptable 'reasonable force' for correction, and what is child abuse - it cannot remove itself from that question. In turn, the best thing the government can do is try to develop the clearest and most reasonable legal line, which is of course what Chester Borrows' ammendment is all about (and I agree with it, for that matter). I think the only time the police should be making subjective decisions (at their own discretion) as to whether or not a law should or should not be acted upon, is where there is no other reasonable way to enforce it. Power of discretion can always be confused and abused, so I agree with National's position that it is better to keep the law as specific as possible. I think the real reason why Sue can't see it this way is because in her heart she wants smacking to be completely illegal. She wants Mum and Dad to feel like they're breaking the law every time they smack their kids, because she doesn't want them to do it at all.
I believe that any form of smacking is abuse! We need to look to other countries such as Sweden, Finland and the Dutch, what do they have ... It's called a culture of RESPECT for children. No form of smacking should be seen as ok. This will only lead onto to more abuse. What about the Rights of the Child? Parents and Society must work together to provide love, encouragement and a supportive enviroment for children, not a fear of power over them. It is not acceptable for an adult to hit other adult or animals ( this is a right as adults, we take for granted), so why should it be ok to do this to our chldren? All people (that includes the fathers as well) need to be educated on postive ways to discipline and respect our future leaders, workers and parents of the future.
Heather - you are wrong re the Swedish experience, it has not helped. Propaganda by the repeal 59 supporters have been falsly reporting Sweden. You also mention the childs rights. In reality any individuals rights, whoever they may be including yourown, are or should be, submitted to someone. The words are in this so called "enlightend day" an overcooked term for - It is ok for me to do my own thing. Children are happier and more secure with appropriate and safe boundries. Good on you John Key this bill is very wrong for many reasons.
Heather, In principle I think you are right. I think the vast majority of smacking is really just "correction" functioning as an excuse for relieving anger. But where the line should be drawn between "corrective" smacking and qualified abuse is a seperate issue (relating to our legal system). I personally think that smacking should be outlawed once a child is somewhere between 3-5 years, when we can know that there is no need to physicially hit at this age - of course children deserve the same respect as adults, in principle. I was smacked unjustly myself as a child, and I can tell you that there is nothing quite like it to erode respect in your parents. However, I don't think much of this *ideology* of love. Love is primarily an emotional connection, not a behavioural exercise i.e. you can't "tell" a parent to love their child, they either do or do not, and if they don't they will massively damage their child regardless of how well-intentioned they may be, or how they specifically choose to behave. I recommend a brilliant book by Dr. Arthur Janov, The Feeling Child, for anyone who wants a better perspective of what really damages kids most of all.
How can you ban smacking, the only way some parents know to discipline their children, without first educating parents on alternative ways. Sending new mums home from hospital within one or two days of the birth of their child without training starts a vicious circle of crying baby, no sleep, resentment of the baby, and desperation. A few more days in hospital, or similar, to make sure the baby is feeding well and mum knows what to expect, and do, and then a programme over the pre-school years to deal with problems that may arise over the years, and how to train the child, would make an anti-smacking bill unnecessary. Let's educate the parents before we try to criminalise them.
Pretty much what I was going to say about first giving the parents the tools to manage their children in a positive effective way. I have smacked my child and every time it has been an angry reaction to a situation I can not control. I am not proud of it and every time I have regretted it afterwards and vowed never to do it again. Smacking did not improve the behaviour at all, it created a look of fear and confusion on my son's face, it made him angry and more likely to lash out. His behaviour improved when I devoted more quality time to him with positive re-enforcements. I don't believe smacking is a good or effective way of disciplining but I also don't think it should be outlawed. What would be more effective would be to give an organisiation like Plunket funding to be able to run more parenting courses that are accessable to everyone. Like when you attend a feeding class when they are four months old, you then attend a child management class after about two to three years, where you are given the resources to help yourself cope better. Currently there is a course about being the parent you want to be, but it is a once a week over eight weeks course, and frankly I don't have the time or the energy after looking after a pre schooler and a baby and running my own business to committ to that much time. So something short and sweet by plunket would be ideal.
I totally agree that we should start with the health and good condition of the mother, adequate care at the birth and for at least a week afterwards to ensure good bonding, help with feeding, lessening of fatigue, education of father. Help with rearing and any childhood problems should be available to all mothers at a local Plunket or Well Child Clinic, parenting courses once children are a year old should be encouraged, inculcating discipline without smacking where at all possible. Impatient and hot tempered parents are born as well as made so counsel of perfection is doomed to failure. If Sue Brdadford's Bill goes through as is, the chance of ordinary parents being hauled off by Police will be no chance but a certainty. Also, many children are dishonest, manipulating and cruel so many will take any opportunity to get back at adults if they feel like it, whether the situation described is accurate or incorrect. In my view, the Labour Party's stance on this issue is coercive to ensure family disruption, ie. breaking up the family bonds in order to damage a normal society such as the western world has known for centuries. Encouraging women to work and place children in creches is the first step to alienating relationships, and poverty for families is disruptive to home ownership and contentment within the family circle. Globalisation does not help the western world maintain its former standards, and the business 'ethic' means yet again that individuals are subjugated by the need for so-called economic success. Once again, we need to remember to uphold the dignity of man, and realise how far we have come in 500 years, not to regress to serfs in the modern sense.
I had a child (when he was young/he is passed that now) who would not stop bad behaviour until a smack had been issued. Verbals meant Mum & Dad were not being serious today. One smack meant to him that he should listen to the verbals, seriously. Children are different - my girls responded to verbals without smacking. To make it illegal to smack means the police & judiciary can eventually prosecute parents who lightly smack even though this would be removing parental rights & undermining the family relationship. A light smack is not given for violence or for the sake of anger but to discipline in a spirit of tough love for the benefit of the child. Gay people did not like their relationships to be subject to prosecution on the basis of police discretion. Neither do good parents like the idea that they could be vulnerable to prosecution, just for doing the right thing. We need to be equitable to all groups of society in terms of individual rights & freedoms.
Will the Police be able to attend a "smacking complaint" as promptly as they can attend a burglary?
It will also require Teachers to report on parents if a child complains to them (the teachers) that they have been smacked. ridiculous.!! Another reason why
Thank you National. As a parent, I am so frustrated with the way the Labour and Green Parties are presenting this bill. We are being told, once again, rather than listened to. What happened to Democracy? I totally agree with Key's opinion re: changing the wording of the bill to stop ordinary parents who are giving a light smack (NOT HIT), for disciplinary purposes.
A coneespordrnt on ZB this morning noted that the appropriate bureaucrats managed the job when Muldoon called his snap election in '84 with a few weeks' notice.
Surely the Bill should read "anything more than a light smacking with an open hand is illegal"
*I fully agree with Pat in post #3*. Arbitrarily imposing a rule or set of rules upon society is not the way to go about changing things for the better. Re-educating people on what is acceptable behaviour is the best solution. Yes, it will take time - even generations worth - but otherwise the 'PC Police' will just get more and more pedantic until you won't be able to step outside your home without the chance of offending someone or committing some crime. Yes, I'm being hyperbolical, but this is as much a truth for binge drinking and speeding whilst driving as it is for child abuse. Specifically, yes, light smacking to reinforce discipline should be a tool employable by parents as a last resort. No, they shouldn't be put in a position of fear of recrimination for doing so. Besides, making it illegal to smack any child with any grade of severity will not stop the people who are already abusive to children, theirs or otherwise. We already have systems in place to combat these people, but they aren't being used effectively. But if we don't re-educate, then gradually weeding these people out isn't going to help, because more will take their place. *Bottom line:* the question should not be should we ban child smacking, but what kind of a society do we wish to have and how far are we prepared to go to get it?
I have followed the "Anti smacking' legislation debate with much interest and agree with the 80 odd percent who oppose it absolutely. It will have Zero effect on those people abuse or beat their children and while I like every other sane person in the community abhore such behaviour and fully realise there is a major problem in this country. This Bill will go NO WAY towards fixing it whatsoever. I find this bill is an intrusion into my private life by a big brother government and completely undermines my right as a parent to disipline my children as I see fit. I am not interested in a watered down version, an altered version, or revised version, and if National gets into bed with this "Nana State" Labour Goverment on Sue Bradfords Bill and votes in any way shape or form for this Bill I will completely and utterly withdraw my support for national and they will have seen the last of my vote. I, like many, many, of my associates and friends are re-viled at this intrusion into our personal lives and beliefs and will not support a party that condones this very ill thought out piece of legislation. I have been a National voter all my life but would withdraw that support in an instant should National vote for this bill even in an amended form.
I fully agree with National's stance on anti-smacking. If the law is planning to ignore light smacking, why make it illegal??? One of the REAL problems we have in this country is the lack of good judgement in the courts. Our judges are strongly to blame for what is happening in our society. The current law says "reasonable force" - how can any sane judge accept that beating a child with a cane or a baseball bat etc is "reasonable force"? Would they accept that as a defence if someone came along and hit THEM with the same implements? Not on the same subject, but a similar problem - the boy who recently STOLE a mercedes then crashed it and in the process KILLS other people. He gets 3 months for reckless driving, because the judge said he didn't have other driving offences.... HELLO, where is this judge hiding? What about his theft of the car? What about his KILLING of innocent people? Does he now qualify for "previous offences" NEXT time he kills someone??? Put the judges back on the street, let them realise what the real world is actually saying. These are people we are supposed to look UP to. They are contributing to more crime than preventing it with their ridiculously light sentences and their over-the-top PC attitudes.
The anti-smaking law is to address those that "beat the crap" out of their kids, sorry to say that a law will not stop this behaviour by that sort of person. It is like expecting those with dangerous dogs to micro chip them. Labour is out of touch and PC has gone so far it is now working against productive members of this country. This law (like the micro-chip law) will not actually change the people it is targeted towards (violent, benifit dependent, uneducated loosers) as these people do not take notice of law anyway. Cant wait to see L. gone.
Passing a law that seeks to make what is "Reasonable" in law, "Unreasonable", is to do that which is unreasonable. Sec. 59 is good, well worded legislation and has been understood for generations. Just because Bradford says it's bad doesn't make it bad. Why believe her when she herself has numerous criminal convictions? Why not believe the more than 80% of parents who know how to raise their own children? Please Mr. Key, don't get sucked into believing Bradford's propaganda about needing to change Sec. 59. Thank you.
We are appalled that Sue Bradford and this Government is determined to take another step inside the homes of New Zealanders And tell us how we shall rear our children. We are ordinary 5th generation Kiwi Parents and Grandparents and have had call to discipline both our Children and Grandchildren at some time or other with the occasional Disciplinary smack. Children are just that, they do not understand or reason with the mind of an adult until they are adults, it is up to us to protect and Raise them within the Family Unit to understand how to become a useful member both there and in society, this sometimes requires The Basic discipline of a smack. This is the quickest and least cruel method of curtailing problem behaviour and has worked in our Family for generations. Our extended Family unit is loving and our kids are law abiding and well behaved, and if we choose to discipline our kids, it should Be our call, not that of the government. This bill will do nothing towards stemming the violence in our society, in fact quite the contrary, in fact since the strap has been Taken out of school kids have become even harder to control and violence among themselves has escalated. Many Parents are reporting that the Teachers and Heads of schools are unable to control this violence. At our local primary school of Clayton Park much bullying and violence is swept under the carpet and hidden from those that should know about it. How is a Parent to prevent sibling violence with a crazy law like Sue Bradford is proposing... .Get Real! Out here in the REAL world, Kiwis are absolutely SICK OF ALL THE PC CRAP IN SOCIETY Today AND WE DEMAND THAT the GOVERNMENT GETS BACK TO WHAT THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO BE DOING, RUNNING THE COUNTRY AND KEEP THEIR NOSES OUT OF OUR HOMES AND OUR FAMILY MATTERS. Good law abiding Citizens are going to be the casualties with this bill. We thought this was a free country, but Labour and the Greens are showing we are becoming REDDER by the day. SCRAP THE ANTI SMACKING BILL AND GET BACK TO BASICS..................Keep out of our Family life. THIS IS AN INFRINGEMENT OF OUR RIGHTS AS PARENTS TO CHOOSE TO RAISE OUR CHILDREN OUR WAY Helen and Phil Kay
Will Ms Bradford's definition of "correction" obviously fall outside of what most parents would say is "incidental to good care and parenting"? If not, does that mean she is trying to redefine what constitutes "good care and parenting"? Does it mean parents can smack their children using implements as it does in the present Section 59? It appears that Ms Bradford does not object to the "reasonable force in the circumstances" idea as it exists both in the present Section 59 as well as in her re-write of Section 59. She objects to parents using reasonable force to correct their children. What is it about correcting children to which Ms Bradford objects so strongly? What is it about using "reasonable force" when it is used for the purpose of correction that makes it so bad in Ms Bradford's thinking that it must be legislated against when this same "reasonable force" can be used in the multitude of other circumstances allowed in Sub-Sections 1a through 1d?
Bradford's Bill is simply designed to enhance her political aspirations - erroneously in my opinion - and having dealt with domestic cases where the police and courts and cyfs personnel are involved I believe any legislation that gives them discretionary powers is dangerous and such laws should never be allowed to pass.
Isn't it interesting - even I can remember not that long ago all the griping about how parents don't discipline their children any more and 'that's the genesis of delinquents'!! I am amazed that this bill has been given the time of day. Come on NZ, we can do better than this.
Quite agree Kylie. One can only surmise that politicians are minimising discipline of teenagers to ensure a full muster of future clients for the police, courts and prisons to justify expenditure of taxpayers' funds in these areas. Rather lopsided strategy but then politicians are not renowned for having much between their ears other than overdoses of Bellamys alcohol.
POLICE WORKLOAD There seems to have been little debate on the effect that the proposed anti-smacking legislation will have on the Police. We have no shortage of precocious young kids "that know their rights" and who will at the slightest provocation .. call the police complaining about their parents. The police would be obliged to investigate every call, and be put in the invidious position of making a judgement call regarding seriousness. Once the Police have got that call wrong a couple of timesm, which eventually they are bound to do, and got all the bad publicity, they may well decide "what the hell ... this isn't our job let's let the courts decide". So ... is it possible that the Police would get many, many calls that have no real merit? Has that workload been assessed? Is this how we want the Police to spend their limited resources? Peter Thompson
I really appreciate the National stand on the proposed bill. The role of a parent is hard enough without State intervention. Let’s concentrate on tougher sentencing for Parents that cross the line and the problem of school yard bullying! I sincerely hope common sense prevails on this issue!
Very wrong to legislate control over parents, and the legislation will not help abuse anyway. There is a crisis over the number of unplanned pregnancies to girls with very little hope of stable relationships. We desperately need Godly principles in our nation.
I agree with heather I'm very against the anti smacking Bill, My Adult children Both have good jobs good education and had the odd smack for disipline when naughty... We dont beat them up just smack
Young Johnny strikes Dad for calling him a "no hoper". Dad can do nothing so has to accept it. Dad hits Johnny in retaliation, Johnny calls the Police & claims assault. Surely this is wrong!
My son at 7 yrs told me he learnt more from a smack than me removing the TV or playstation from his use. I commented that I had to stay upset with him for too long when I took things off him and that it seemed I was the one being punished. My 3yr old son does not leave the yard, run from me when I call him or get into obvious danger not because he is aware of the dangers around him but is aware that if he doesn't listen to a verbal reprimand I will smack him which I use as a last resort and as a result he is as safe. My 16mth old girl seems to react to verbal tone (not yelling) better. This bill is a bullying tactic from government. I have heard parents yell at their kids with fowl language calling them 'useless' so and so's etc. That is abuse!! Neglect is abuse!! Outlaw those. Abuse is a social issue and needs education not legislation.
The country must get to grips with the issue of violence, we know that even smacking our own dog is not the right way to teach it things. we have to change the law to force parents to learn better ways to provide discipline, do not be put off by the family first debate I am a Christian and do not support the need to physically discipline children, Adults nowadays have more problems with violence than ever before, the same adults I might add that were brought up in family environments were hitting was allowed it is a misnomer to refer to family values, the previous generation has nothing to be proud of, it has created adults that are violent, we must stand up and make a change, discipline is vital to bringing up children violence is simply destructive
I believe the biggest danger with NZ's already out-of-control youth is that angry and rebellious teenagers will lay false charges of violence against their parents, just as we have had with false historic sex abuse cases against fathers. This will be extremely destructive to families destroyed by lying teenagers. When (not if) this happens I think Sue Bradford and Helen Clark should be held jointly responsible and sued for destroying families merely for political gain. This bill is only political - every one knows it will have no real effect on violence. I also heard Sue Bradford admit on the radio that this bill will not have any effect on reducing violence towards children, so what it the point of it? As others point out this bill will have no effect on those who beat their kids. Helen Clark should be shamed into making this a conscience vote? I believe her heavy-handed forcing her MPs to tow the party line in this will lose her the election. She is clearly only pandering to the Green Party to try and get them on her side.
I saw a website the other day which suggested we should start a smack a politician law. There's one that has possibilities! Well Mr Key. Looking at the comments here. The majority of the country still think this bill is foolish. Cops don't show up anyway unless you kill someone. The bill invades the home and turns school teachers into police taking the word of a kid over their parents. It's a right which is being taken away. It's improper function of govt, it makes good parents criminals. Those that are going to abuse will anyway regardless. People are misquoting other countries to validate their support of the bill. Helen has some wierd agenda for the country with this and the nutrition bill. These laws have nothing to do with bettering the country but increasing their political stature. Good parents will end up in prison because of this idiotic law, and that's a problem! The more this happens the less relevant govt becomes to the country it serves. No one likes it, no one wants it. I've been more impressed with national as the months go by, but I disagree to the maximum amout possible with this law and your support of it.
agree with '''Helen has some wierd agenda for the country with this and the nutrition bill. These laws have nothing to do with bettering the country but increasing their political stature.''' Of course Helen Clarke being a parent of 17 children and of exemplary virtue would know all about child discipline ... only smacking she'd have experience of is her closet indulgences with Cullen.
I think that there are pros and cons about the bill that do have major points, its just a matter of getting there and helping all partys to resolve this situation that mostly will affect parents and how they teach or may sue bradford say dicipline our children today.