Archive for May, 2009

The Yes Vote makes big gains in cyberspace

May 31, 2009

Google’s PageRanks were updated last week, and we’ve achieved an astounding PageRank of five after being live for under two months! We’ve never seen that happen to a site quite so quickly before, and we’re pleased to be part of a movement that’s able to generate so much traction so quickly.  PageRank is Google’s measure of how important and authoritative a web page is; the higher the pagerank, the higher up the search results lists your site is when people search for topics related to your site.

We’ve served tens of thousands of pages to thousands of visitors.

We’ve also received excellent coverage online in places like Hard News, The Hand Mirror, No Right Turn, The Standard, and Frogblog.

The YES in ’09 Facebook Group has 273 members and is still growing stronger every day.

For a study of how attitude affects outcomes in the Twitterverse, compare a search on @theyesvote to a search on @vote_no to see what people really think.

We are committed to retaining a tone that is positive, constructive and evidence-based. This referendum isn’t about personalities, it’s about the issues.  It isn’t about religion, it’s about best practice.  It isn’t about sound bites, it’s about the whole complex story. And it isn’t about protecting parents, it’s about protecting children.

But the real contest isn’t in cyberspace, it’s in the real world.  It’s great to get the word out and build our online following, but to win the real game we need to convince our friends, families, colleages and contacts that a Yes Vote in the August referendum is the only way to send a clear message to our politicians to protect our children by retaining a Child Discipline Law that is working well.

While we seem to be winning the cyberspace contest for now, we won’t be smug or complacent. We need to be out there taking action, and engaging in conversation with everyone who is willing to listen about why a Yes Vote in this referendum is so important to the future of our country.

So let’s seize the initiative, and get out there and raise awareness with as many people as possible.

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Parenting Tip: Nip anger in the bud

May 29, 2009

Take steps to control your own rage:

  • Don’t stew over things, distract yourself if you’re feeling mad
  • Practise self-control
  • Learn how to connect with people in a safe and respectful way
  • Find positive male and female role models
  • Care for yourself by connecting to things that are meaningful to you like nature, meditation or art

Thanks to Cynthia Morton of the Emotional Fitness Foundatation for today’s tip (and HT to Stuff)

Do you have a tip you’d like to share? Please let us know below.


Free Poster: Hitting kids teaches kids it’s OK to hit

May 28, 2009

We’re pleased to release our second free poster today.  Feel free to download it, print copies, and post them in appropriate places.

Hitting kids teaches kids it’s OK to hit

You can download more posters on our free stuff page.

Please note: if you plan on distributing significant numbers of copies of any items from this site, please let us know so that we can include these items in our electoral return of expenses. See the notes under “Legislative requirements” in our Legal Disclaimer for more info.

Unfortunately, we don’t have the resources to post these items out to people, but you are free to download them, print them, and use them in whatever responsible way you see fit.  Depending on stock levels, you may be able to get these items from your local Barnardos office.


Swedish student Maria Bjornfot talks about the NZ Child Discipline Law

May 28, 2009

maria-bjornfotMaria Bjornfot, a Social Work student from Sweden, came to spend three weeks with the Barnardos office in Waitakere as part of her study. While she was there, Annie Gordon took the opportunity to ask her about her experiences growing up in Sweden, with particular reference to Sweden’s child discipline law.

Annie: Maybe you could start by telling us briefly why you have chosen to be here in Waitakere at Barnardos at this time?

Maria: I have a great interest in children and social work so I was very happy when you accepted me at your agency. When I had the opportunity in my social work studies to go where ever I wanted in the world it was an easy choice. I have always been interested in how it looks and feels to be on the other side of the world. And the Lord of the Ring movies with all the beautiful sceneries contributed to my great interest in New Zealand.

Your situation is very interesting to me in that you come from Sweden and were born in 1979, the year of the law change regarding physical punishment of children. Can you tell us something about the ways you were disciplined when you were growing up?

When I grew up in Sweden the child discipline law had already changed and what I can remember of my childhood was more threats of physical punishment rather than being hit. But sometimes I remember my father took me by my ear or grabbed my hair. That was in the early days when the law was still new. In my later years I can’t remember any physical punishment for me or my brother. Of course we argued but it was more reasoning by my parents and if we had tantrums they ignored us or left the room.

Was this a typical situation for children at that time?

I think so, for most people it was a gradual change.

How would you say your experience differs from how children are disciplined in Sweden today?

Today in Sweden we have developed different strategies in child discipline. There is very little physical punishment that you hear about. We still are talking a lot about parenting issues though. Parents in Sweden today are struggling between full time work, their own hobbies and giving their children attention. Parents try very hard but don’t find time enough for everything. This often leads to parents feeling very bad about themselves, and to compensate they let their children do anything they want and this can also be a problem and has become a big topic of conversation.

Is there much or any opposition to the child discipline law in Sweden anymore?

No, not at all, although we still sometimes have the older people talking about the early days [before the law change] that children had more respect back then. But I think older persons are like that all over the world, afraid of the new things that happen.

Parenting Tip: Follow your child’s lead

May 28, 2009

Participate with your child in those activities that bring them pleasure, even if it feels strange to you.

Joining your child in their world requires an essential parenting skill-imitate and follow. Don’t make demands, don’t ask them to perform (i.e., “What color is this?” or “What does a cow say?”), and don’t direct the play. While it may sound simple, it’s not! As parents we all want to feel proud of what our children know. We get great pleasure in asking them to show off, especially in front of other people so they can see what great parents we are. However, most children don’t like to be drilled (nor do adults, for that matter), and when too much of this occurs, the child may simply withdraw, or do the opposite, have a tantrum.

Truly joining in your child’s world gives them the feeling that you treasure what comes from inside, not only what you draw out of them. It says “I’m so delighted in you that I’m going to sit here with you and watch what you do, do it alongside you, and wonder with you why this is so fascinating.” Granted, as parents we will always be tickled by our child’s responses to our approaches or our questions, but expecting too much of this will backfire on you. Instead, join in, talk about what you and the child are doing (i.e., “Boy, these rays of sunlight on the floor are really interesting.” or “You really like the sound of that block banging on the table.”). Finally, don’t be afraid to add to the play with your own creations in the hope that your child will someday become interested in you, too.

If your child has limited awareness of others, you can gently create situations in the play to get your child to notice you. For example, if they are building with blocks, you might “accidentally” knock them over then help build them up again.

Today’s tip comes from Dr Sarita Freedman.  This tip is extracted from her excellent article, “Top 10 Tips for Parenting an Autistic Child“.

Do you have a tip you’d like to share? Please let us know below.


Yes Vote launches campaign for August referendum

May 27, 2009

The Yes Vote Coalition launched a campaign for the August referendum with a media kit to provide background on the issues for journalists.

Having a law that makes hitting kids illegal makes sense in every way. That’s why people who support non-violent child-rearing should consider voting YES in the postal referendum on the issue in August.

The referendum question is misleading: “Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?”  This question links smacking with good parenting practice, which it is not.

“This unnecessary $10 million referendum is an attempt to overturn a recently enacted law that gives children the same legal protection from assault as adults,” said Deborah Morris-Travers, spokesperson for the Yes Vote Coalition.

“We are supporting a Yes Vote because that is the only option to send a clear signal to Parliament that smacking and hitting children is wrong.”

“Two years on, the new law is working well.  Police reports show that parents are not being criminalised unnecessarily. Organisations belonging to the Yes Vote Coalition report a noticeable increase in interest from parents seeking alternatives to physical punishment, including smacking”.

“It is simply wrong to suggest, as some do, that ‘nothing has changed’ since the amendment to s59 of the Crimes Act in June 2007.  This nationwide desire to learn more about parenting and non physical discipline is, like the law now in place, a fundamentally important step towards a less violent society”.

“We agree with those critics of the current Child Discipline Law who say the new law has not changed the ghastly pattern of child abuse and murders in the home in New Zealand.  To think it could do that so quickly is naive.  That does not make it wrong for society to draw a line in the sand that says ‘no violence against children’.  After all, we have laws against speeding and murder, but people still do both.  Shall we drop those laws too just because real life doesn’t always match the law?” added Ms Morris-Travers.

“The Child Discipline Law as it now stands represents a child-rearing standard that many New Zealanders actually already support.  Over time, support for the law and reduced tolerance for any violence against children will increase and people will acknowledge that not hitting children makes sense”.

“In the meantime, the public will once again debate the rights and wrongs of hitting children.  We urge people to look behind the misleading claims that are stirring up unfounded fear, to find out what the law actually says and how it is working by visiting

“A YES vote protects children and supports positive, non-violent parenting,” concluded Ms Morris-Travers.

Parenting Tip: Stop the show

May 27, 2009

When the going gets tough, stop the show.

If you find that your child is misbehaving badly or exhibiting tantrums, for example in a public place, then stop whatever programmes that you’ve planned for the day and go home. This can be tough, especially when you have already planned out your day. But if your child is misbehaving, they need to know that there won’t be any “exciting” activities for the rest of the day unless they stop their bad behavior.

Thanks to James Lehman for today’s tip!

Do you have a tip you’d like to share? Please let us know below.


Misleading claims about the Child Discipline Law and The Yes Vote campaign

May 26, 2009

As the referendum campaign heats up, supporters will have seen a number of claims being made about the Child Discipline Law and the Yes Vote coalition. We decided to put the record straight.

Robert’s story: Childhood smacking led to attempted suicide

May 26, 2009

When I was about three years of age, I was molested. As a result, when I was smacked by my parents, the pain stimulated me sexually. As time progressed, the continued childhood discipline smacking with the pain and humiliation associated with it caused me to become sexually attractive to the pain. I began to self-harm. The resulting intense shame, secrecy and anxiety surrounding this addictive behaviour became very long-term. Later in life it led to two suicide attempts.

I now put the shame where it appropriately belongs – at the feet of those who sexually molested and smacked me in my childhood and at the feet of individuals who still believe it is OK to smack children.

I am able to inflict high levels of pain on myself as ‘sexual stimulation’ resulting from childhood conditioning caused by being smacked. This conditioning is now managed by ongoing medical support to prevent actual self-harm.

I suffer from life-long debilitating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder resulting from the treatment I received as a child.

I disclose my real life story because smacking children as was legal under [the old] Section 59 is still considered ‘harmless’. This mindset has the real potential to put many children at risk – as it did to me. My life has been irreparably damaged by the smacking culture in my childhood.

I have witnessed many other sufferers deal with the psychological impact resulting from childhood smacking during many group psychotherapy sessions over the years.

Robert [not his real name]

Hone Kaa tells East Coast Māori: Vote YES

May 25, 2009

Chair of Te Kahui Mana Ririki Dr Hone Kaa will tell East Coast Māori to vote YES in the upcoming referendum on smacking, during iwi workshops he is running in Gisborne and Hastings over the next two days.

“The referendum question is misleading: ‘Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?’ This question links smacking with good parental correction, which it is not.

“I encourage all Māori to vote ‘YES’ so that the current law, which protects our young ones from physical punishment, is maintained.

“Two years on from enactment, the law as it stands is working well. Police reports show that good parents are not being criminalised, while organisations belonging to the YesVote Coalition* report a huge upsurge in interest from good parents seeking alternatives to violence, including smacking.

“This issue is especially important for Māori because our child maltreatment rates are disproportionately high.”

Te Kahui Mana Ririki has been running workshops with iwi since last year – the workshops explore the alternatives to smacking.

“We have developed a six-step model for Māori whanau, which gives them techniques for parenting without hitting.

“The model which blends modern parenting practices with traditional Maori values has been very enthusiastically received.

“As a people we must transition to non-violent parenting so that our young ones can enjoy family life that is free from violence.”

Plunket Barnardos Save the Children Unicef Jigsaw Ririki Parents CentrePaediatric Society Womens Refuge Epoch

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