June 19, 2009
Recently Napier City Councillor Maxine Boag was a guest on Newstalk ZB following commentator Dr Robin Gwynn the previous day on the same topic. This is a transcript of her two-minute thought for the day.
“Good morning, I’m Napier City Councillor Maxine Boag.
This week I received a flyer with a figure looking like an orange plastic ginger-bread man asking the question “Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?”
My first reaction was: “What a dumb question!”
It’s like that old set-up question: “Have you stopped beating your wife?” In which case a “yes” answer shows you have been beating her, and a “no” is an admission that you are still beating her.
But this dumb question is what we’re being asked to vote on in a postal ballot in July. It has been prompted by a nationwide petition that was launched in response to the 2007 [changes to the] Child Discipline law. At the cost of $9 million to taxpayers, this poorly-worded referendum has been criticised by both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, both of whom saying that they will not be voting in it, with the National-led government saying they will not be changing the law regardless of the outcome.
The question is very misleading.
First of all, many of us believe that a smack is not part of good parental correction. So if you say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ you are still agreeing that a smack is good parental correction. A recent study of pre-schoolers’ parents in Otago showed that only a tiny minority of parents actually thought smacking was a good thing for them to do, and just 9 per cent thought smacking was effective in disciplining their children. Most parents said that smacking was more to do with their own state of mind, their tiredness and frustration, than the child’s behaviour.
Secondly, since the 2007 child discipline law, the use of a “smack” has not made any parents criminals. No parents who occasionally smack lightly are being prosecuted. So if you say ‘yes’, you are saying anyone smacking their child will be considered criminals, when they’re not. If you say ‘no’ you again buy into this lie.
I heard the organiser of the petition, Larry Baldock on the radio just yesterday being asked if he could give a single example of where a parent has been criminalised for smacking a child and he couldn’t!
I rest my case.
It made me think back to my own primary school days, when I was strapped often, always for talking.
Did it work?
Did it shut me up?
I’ll leave the answer for you to decide.
I’m Maxine Boag, and that’s my thought for today.”