Letter: Otago Daily Times

June 12, 2009

10 June 2009

Dear Editor

Richard Dawson’s “Smacking Law needs Fixing” (Otago Daily Times, 5 June 2009) uses the Bible and God as rationale for changing the Child Discipline Law. There are many church leaders who do not support this opinion. A joint public statement in 2002 by the Roman Catholic and Anglican Bishops of Auckland, with Presbyterian, Methodist and Church of Christ ministers support included these words:

“The majority of parents want to do the best for their children. It is misguided to believe that hitting children is in their interests. The most effective way of guiding children’s behaviour is through example. This was the way of Jesus whose life role-modelled a preference for love over violence. By contrast, hitting children endorses a pattern of violence which is passed on from one generation to the next.”

Pastor Dawson writes of the smacking law undermining parents’ self confidence and he perpetuates the myth that parents will be prosecuted for the parenting choices they make. The New Zealand Child Discipline Law is working well; Police statistics show clearly that parents are not being prosecuted for minor assaults. Children are now protected from physical assault in the same way that adults are.

It is ironic on the same date Pastor Dawson’s article advocates that the current legislation which protects children is changed, that the Otago Daily Times also has a report of a Ranfurly woman assaulting her seven year old son with a soup ladle and her hands resulting in extensive internal and external bruising. I assume Pastor Dawson would see her as a mother who is “being made a criminal as she was getting it a bit wrong”.

Yours sincerely

Barb Long


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