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April 23, 2007 | by  | in News |
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Who wants a Smack?

By now you probably want to smack anyone who continues to talk about the so-called anti-smacking bill. Just what is it about disciplining small children that has caused so much debate? We saw a heated protest at Parliament a few weeks ago, with people supporting Green MP Sue Bradford’s bill, people against it, people protesting against the protesting, and people protesting against them. Barnardos and Plunket have argued their cases, Christian groups have defended the right to discipline their kids, and ordinary parents across the nation have been debating about just how to treat a child’s bottom.

Most people in New Zealand have enjoyed the supreme pleasure of having their backside turn a scalding red as a result of being particularly naughty. Dad’s suddenly large hand or mum’s wooden spoon have landed on many a kid who has thrown their food off the plate, hit a younger sister or wandered off across the supermarket car park to escape. Soon, this practice is likely to be no more. In June, Parliament looks set to pass Ms Bradford’s bill to repeal section 59 of the Crimes Act and remove the legal defence of reasonable force for corrective purposes. Ms Bradford wants to remove the defence in a bid to reduce levels of child abuse in New Zealand. Child abuse, which is already illegal, is at a pretty shocking level. We are among the worst in the OECD for the way we treat kids. New Zealand, it has been said, has a “culture of violence” within families that needs to stop. The question is how?

The Green Party has said, “Many community organisations support Sue Bradford’s bill as an important step to countering New Zealand’s rates of child abuse and this is consistent with moves to foster non-violent parenting.” Yet most parents don’t. Does Ms Bradford, and the Green Party, seriously believe that not allowing parents to smack their kids will curb child abuse in New Zealand? Do they think that the abusers of the Kahui twins will follow this law and not abuse and kill, let alone smack their kids? The bill will do nothing to curb the violent ways of the very people who make New Zealand’s child abuse statistics so bad. These parents do not smack and do not discipline their kids. They kick, punch, and push their kids to abuse them.

National Party MP Anne Tolley has a problem with the current section 59. She believes the definition of “reasonable force” is too broad and needs to be more clearly defined. However, she also believes that Ms Bradford’s Bill penalises everyone. Along with all her fellow National MPs, Mrs Tolley supports National MP Chester Borrows’ amendment, which redefines “reasonable force” to mean correction which is “transitory and trifling”, that is, only with an open hand and one doesn’t leave bruising.

There are concerns that this bill will “criminalise” good parents. The fears that hordes of ordinary parents will be marched off to jail may seem extreme, but are not entirely unfounded. Police are in the process of drawing up policies to deal with the likely instance of the Bill becoming law. As Phil Goff, on behalf of the Police Minister said, “Police will investigate suspected or reported assaults on children.” The Police authorities have already confirmed that they will have to deal with all such complaints as criminal offences. Mrs Tolley points out that Child Youth and Family Services (CYFS) will also have to investigate each complaint, adding another layer to the criminalisation of parents. This will come at a considerable expense, placing further strain on already stretched Police and CYFS resources.

The idea that smacking fosters violence and child abuse has been called into question. Out of the five countries with the lowest child abuse death rates, four allow smacking. A UNICEF report showed that the death rates due to maltreatment are virtually identical in countries with a smacking ban compared to those without them. It has often been suggested that there are forms of discipline, other than smacking, that parents can use just as effectively to discipline their kids. However, polls have consistently shown that around 80 per cent of New Zealanders do not support a ban on smacking. The vast majority of parents want the best for their children and will therefore use the punishment that they know is the most acceptable to try and improve their kids’ behaviour. The fact that four out of every five Kiwis do not support the bill shows that smacking is indeed seen and used as an appropriate and necessary tool for disciplining kids. Sue Bradford’s bill dictates how parents should bring up their kids and will legally remove what most Kiwi parents perceive as an appropriate tool to do so.

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Comments (10)

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  1. anna says:

    Hey im anna im 14 yrs old and my parents have smacked me since i was a young child.I have 10 brothers and sisters and they have all been smacked and i know for a fact at the time you hate it but later on in life you definately dont regret it.I dont and i know that if I had never got smacked I would be spoilt,mean,selfish,un-dicsiplined and just simply ruined in a way.I think smacking should not be illegal in nz because smacking is like a dicsipline and is for the best for your child and I know that some people take it too far and call smacking child abuse.Its NOT child abuse but some people abuse their kids instead of smacking them and that just meens they are confused and have taken it down the wrong way but smacking is and should be treated as a discipline not an abuse.
    thankyou for reading my comment please take in what I have said.

  2. seann says:

    I’ll spank you anna

    so long as nic can watch. ;)

  3. SEANN says:


    I don’t know who’s using my and Nick’s name but we don’t agree.

    Seann [the real one]

  4. Grand Inquisitor Brian Tamaki says:

    Smacking is sooooooo good! Didn’t Jesus say “suffer the little children to come unto me”? Well the children will suffer under my reign of terror … hee hee hee!
    Why stop with smacking? No pain, no gain I say!
    Make them bleed until the little bastards tremble with fear! Respect my authority!
    Be pure, be vigilant, behave.

  5. Darren says:

    What the fuck are you smoking Tamaki? Drugs like those are dangerous! Religious right morons like you use ‘smacking’ as an excuse for the physical abuse of children. There is no excuse for using violence against children. You make me sick!

  6. SEANN says:

    First of all kids dont have rights anyway – so ‘no smacking’ is bullshit because – as per usual in this dumb country – everything is seen in isolation. The idea of a law to stop people hitting kids is sick. Need to address depression, anger, stress, economic problems, other illnesses – need to SCRUTINISE government much more closely – and stop monitoring the masses behaviour so much. This country is testament of Orwell’s vision and under the sick, depraved, perverted, fascistic Labour Junta it is getting worse.

  7. SEANN says:

    I am the real Sean – my name is Sean – and I like spanking.

    The other ‘Sean’ is an imposter.

  8. SEANN says:

    No. I am the Real Sean.

  9. SEANN (the real one) says:

    The two posts above aren’t mine – that imposter is deeply insecure and depressed and desperate for affection. He will commit suicide eventually.

  10. Sid Vicious says:

    If a kid acts up and calls his mother or father a $*#(** A(#hole Than ya the kid gets a spanking, there is maybe 12 % of the people in this world who think spanking is child abuse, but those are the people who think other laws should be in tact, those are the people who dont like anyone but thereselfs and think there $hit dont stink, the 88% of people dont give a $hit about any law and will take the law into there own hands so get over it, if a kid crosses the line where a spanking needs to be done, there is tons of people who dont give a shit what the laws are, Spanking will go on until the end of mankind so get over it, laws are just on paper, behind closed doors no one knows the truth or cares so Spanking is and has always been the number 1 soarce of disaplent, Spanking isnt a Beating, they are totaly different..

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