Posts Tagged jimmy mason

Russell Brown: Stop the enabling

May 21, 2009

In his latest Hard News blog entry, Russell Brown provides excellent thought-provoking analysis on the Jimmy Mason “face-punching” child assault case.  Brown is disturbed that the media are still referring to the case as the “ear flicking” case, rather than paying attention to the facts.  But the media aren’t the only ones trivialising the details.

Brown points out that

Witnesses also said that Mason was repeatedly shouting “f**ing listen!” at his two children. He seems to have been so insensible to his own behaviour that he told the first police officer on the scene “I hit the big one in the face and that is what I do and that lady [the witness] can mind her own business.”

Bob McCoskrie says in the Herald, “… there was a concern that Mason may have been found guilty for only the ear-pull, as the actions of punching, and pulling the ear, were wrapped up in the same police charge. If that’s the case, then it’s a decision that does concerns us. We would like that clarified to understand how the law is being interpreted by the police and the courts.”

Brown responds:

That’s not the case and if McCoskrie had any honesty at all he would admit it. Jimmy Mason hit his four year-old son in the face with a closed fist. That’s what happened.

We encourage you to read the article.  The discussion is still flaming hot; join in and have your say on the Public Address forums.

The Christchurch Case – from a parenting perspective

May 21, 2009

On 19 May 2009 a Christchurch father was found guilty of assaulting his son by flicking his ear and punching him in the face. While there has been a lot said about whether the father would have been prosecuted and found guilty under the old law, or should have been prosecuted at all, there has been no examination of case from a parenting perspective.

Dr Joan Durrant, in her book, Positive Discipline: What it is and how to do it, tells us that positive discipline is a way of thinking that focuses on identifying long term goals for children, providing warmth and structure, understanding how children think and feel and teaching problem solving. Key long term goals include encouraging the development of self-discipline and learning to take responsibility. A parent’s role includes guiding the child’s behaviour and modelling appropriate behaviour.

Were the Christchurch children shown by the father what he expected of them at the park and were safety issues explained and demonstrated to them? We don’t know. When the children behaved in a risky fashion and were “corrected” did they understand why their father was so angry? What did they learn from the experience? Perhaps just that when you are really angry its ok to hurt someone. Were they better informed about how to keep themselves safe in the future? Did they feel secure in their relationship with their father? These are relevant questions to ask ourselves when we think about how to respond to our children’s behaviour.

Audio: Deborah Morris-Travers talks to 95bFM Paul Deady about the “face punch” trial

May 21, 2009

bFM Wednesday Wire’s Paul Deady talked to Deborah Morris-Travers yesterday, and the result was an unusually thorough discussion of the real issues behind the Christchurch “face punch” trial which has been trivialised by many in the mainstream media and in the odd lobby of people who think it’s OK to hit children.

Deborah also discusses the upcoming referendum, and why your YES Vote is so important.

Key points:

  • It’s significant that it was a jury ruling
  • The Police had discretion to prosecution, and police the six-monthly reports issued since the 2007 law change show that they are only prosecuting cases where parents have seriously injured their children
  • The court sentences being handed down in these cases are usually anger management and parenting education courses – which seems entirely appropriate, and provides additional support to the offenders to do their jobs properly as parents.
  • Parents are not being criminalised – The public is being seriously misled by groups like Family First and the Kiwi Party who are pro-violence against children.  These groups have sought to minimise the significance of the issue by referring to this case as the “ear-flicking” case.
  • These groups collected enough signatures to force an unnecessary and expensive referendum on a stupidly worded question.
  • Smacking Children is not good parental correction, and there are 92 international studies that show that positive parenting is better, and that hitting children is harmful.
  • A YES VOTE promotes positive parenting and supports children.
  • Independent of the Referendum, the Child Discipline Law is scheduled to undergo a full review by the Ministry of Social Development later this year.
  • John Key has said repeatedly that the law is working well and National continues to support the law.
  • Public perception of the law is strong – a recent UMR Research poll showed that 43% of the public support the law, 28% are opposed, and the rest are undecided.
  • Children attain the best behaviour outcomes when they live in an environment that includes good structure, clear boundaries, warm communication, and love.
  • In homes where parents use violence against their children to correct their behaviour over four years or more, the violence tends to escalate.  In many homes where children are abused, the parents say that it started out as punishment, but the punishment has gone badly wrong.

The Yes Vote Coalition welcomes verdict in child “face-punch” case

May 20, 2009

The guilty verdict in the Christchurch case of a father who punched his child in the face is clearly the right outcome.

“This incident was trivialised as a case of ‘ear flicking’ to discredit the 2007 changes to Section 59 of the Crimes Act 1961, which provided parents a defence for physical punishment,” says Deborah Morris-Travers, spokesperson for The Yes Vote coalition of child and family focussed organisations who support the Child Discipline Law (Section 59) reforms and are encouraging the public to show support for the law in the forthcoming referendum.

“Now that all the evidence has been heard in a court, this case can be seen for what it is – a serious assault on a child and not the “poster-boy” cause for opponents of the law that was widely portrayed. Arguably, this case never had anything to do with Section 59, given it involved a simple assault.

“However, the Christchurch case demonstrates why it remains so important that New Zealand law clearly opposes violent parenting practices as not only unnecessary and ultimately ineffective, but also damaging for children and family relationships.”

Ian Hassall: The child-beating lobby are trivialising the real issues

May 20, 2009

The guilty verdict in the Christchurch child assault case was always likely. Why would the bystanders have called the police and why would the police have taken a prosecution unless there had been a serious assault? The ear flicking label was given by the father and taken up by the media and the child-beating lobby. It was always an unlikely story.

The trouble is that this has supported the father in his self-justification instead of helping him to find a way of dealing with the violence in his relationship with his children.

Sections of the media seem determined to trivialise this issue. They have run with the ‘anti-smacking bill’ headline for four years. Why did they take at face value the father’s ear-flicking story when witnesses were saying it was a punch in the face? There is a difference.

I’m glad the judge has signalled that he intends to impose a supportive sentence – perhaps an anger management course. I don’t want to join the punishers. A man who has the kind of relationship with his children where he erupts in anger and loses control, in broad daylight, in a busy city precinct needs some help.

This case is not primarily about Section 59. A punch in the face wouldn’t have been seen as ‘reasonable force’ under the old law. Even the child-beating lobby admit it’s going too far.

The case does underline the point though, that the high-sounding phrase, ‘reasonable force by way of correction’ is often just an excuse for lashing out after having lost your temper. The problem is not so much losing your temper – most of us have done that with our children – as believing this entitles you to strike them. In 2007, the new Child Discipline Law removed this excuse.

A Yes Vote supports this law, and sends a clear message to parents that there are better ways of disciplining children.

Ian Hassall is a paediatrician and children’s advocate. He was New Zealand’s first Commissioner for Children and before that Medical Director for the Plunket Society. He is Senior Research Fellow for the Institute of Public Policy at AUT, and part of the Every Child Counts campaign to place children’s interests at the centre of government. He teaches the undergraduate paper, Children and Public Policy.

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

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