Posts Tagged NZ Herald

Brian Rudman: Mob rule no substitute for democracy

November 18, 2009

Brian Rudman worries about the so-called “March for Democracy” in the NZ Herald today.

How humiliating to live in a country where $500,000 is being spent encouraging people to march up the main street of our biggest city demanding the right to beat their kids.

It could only happen in a country with one of the worst child murder rates in the developed world.

Read the full article.

Goff, Key stand firm on section 59

September 21, 2009

The Herald reports that organisers of the recent referendum on the smacking law confronted the leaders of both major parties yesterday – but failed to win a single concession to review the law. Furthermore, questions from smacking supporters actually pushed Mr Key into a stronger defence of the law than he has given before, saying the 2007 ban on any use of force against children for “correction” was important to “send a message” that violence against children was unacceptable.

Read the full article at The Herald.

Updated – John Key reiterates: No law change

August 24, 2009

The Herald reported John Key’s take on the referendum result today:

[John Key’s] own view was that the law was “working as it is now”.

But on Monday, he would take to the Cabinet “options which fall short of changing the law but will provide comfort for parents about this issue”.

Be staunch, John, the country’s children are depending on you.

Read the full article at the NZ Herald.

Update: TVNZ video report

Tapu Misa: John Key must hold the line

August 24, 2009

In an opinion piece in today’s Herald, Tapu Misa says that despite the referendum result, John Key must hold the line:

If the purpose of the referendum was to stop good parents being criminalised for “light” smacking, we don’t have a problem. So far no parent has been prosecuted successfully for that. The law allows “inconsequential” physical force – such as a light smack – in several circumstances, including stopping a child harming themselves or others.

But it rightly rules out the kind of parental correction that began with smacking and led to James Whakaruru’s stepfather beating the 4-year-old to death for bedwetting.

That’s an extreme example. Some people don’t recognise child abuse unless it involves a maimed or dead baby, but those who work with children know that the abuse continuum is less clear-cut. Hundreds of damaged children never end up in the public eye.

Read the full article at the Herald.

Herald: Most mainstream churches back the YES Vote

August 12, 2009

The NZ Herald reports today that most mainstream churches back a YES vote.

Some quotes:

“The law isn’t perfect, but [the Catholic Church is] reasonably satisfied with the compromise.”

The heads of the Anglican and Methodist churches say the current law, which bans the use of force against children for “correction”, is working well and should not be changed.

Baptist national leader Rodney Macann said the referendum was an opportunity for churches to declare their belief in “zero tolerance for violence”.

Whatever happens, the hiding has had its day

August 11, 2009

John Roughan writes in the New Zealand Herald (8/8/09) that the men behind the smacking poll are so confident of its result they have prepared their next move by drafting a bill that would allow parents to use reasonable force for “correcting” a child’s behaviour.

He writes that they expect the vote for their “good parental correction” to be so decisive that John Key will have to surrender his stated wish to leave well-enough alone.

When they sent the bill to Roughan they said, “This is what government will adopt after the referendum.” So definite, And wanted him to report that the bill, sponsored by Act MP John Boscawen, expressly forbids the use of “any weapon, tool or instrument”.

“That is progress,” he wrote.

He then engaged on the No Vote team in an email Q&A to seek clarity.

“The bill would also make correction illegal if it “causes the child to suffer injury which is more than transitory and trifling” or, “is inflicted by any means that is cruel or degrading”.

“So that is what their correction is not, but what exactly is it? It is not simply the instant admonitory smack that the law now specifically permits. They want to add correction as a distinct permitted purpose.”

He concluded: “I don’t need a right, he does. But there it is; they want the right to smack long after the event, “as long as it’s not abusive … as long as the child associates the punishment with the wrong behaviour … haven’t you heard of parents taking time out … ?”

“I find the idea of parents taking “time out” to plan a punishment quite repugnant if what they plan is physical.

“Whatever the referendum result, I think justice will decide the hiding has had its day.”

John Roughan: Don’t be deceived by McCoskrie and friends

August 2, 2009

There was a nice piece in yesterday’s Herald by John Roughan: Sinister undertones to referendum instigators, in which John rightly brings into question what Bob McCoskrie and friends mean by “correction”.  He concludes that what the instigators of this referendum are really after is the restoration of their right to give their kids a good hiding.

There is something very creepy about this smacking referendum now arriving in the mail. What exactly do the citizens behind this initiative, men like Bob McCoskrie, mean by “good parental correction”?

Their publicity pretends they mean nothing more than the smack that an anxious or annoyed parent might use to stop or prevent dangerous or offensive behaviour. But that can’t be all they want because the law now expressly permits the use of parental force for exactly those purposes.

Roughan lays out a detailed analysis of why the existing Child Discipline Law allows “good parental correction”, and concludes:

Those who initiated the referendum know what the new law says. They know it permits reasonable force for all the preventive situations they are fond of citing.

They pretend it does not because they could not attract majority support for the restoration of the right to flog children. Don’t be deceived by them. Should a smack, as part of good parental correction, be a criminal offence in New Zealand? Absolutely.

Read the full article.

The Body Shop helps turn the tide on smacking

July 26, 2009

Body Shop action stations support turning the tide on smacking as “good parenting”.

This week, action stations in The Body Shop will provide people with information about why a ‘yes’ vote in the referendum supports parents in their use of positive parenting.

New evidence that parents are increasingly shunning physical punishment as an effective method of parenting was published by the New Zealand Herald this weekend.  It shows a steep drop in the numbers of both mothers and fathers using smacking frequently or at all.  Most exciting is the huge jump in both mothers and fathers who now say they never smack.

“The tide is turning on physical punishment,” says the Yes Vote campaign spokesperson, Deborah Morris-Travers.  “The idea that smacking is ever part of ‘good parental correction’ is on the wane.  People wanting to understand why a ‘yes’ vote is consistent with this view, can visit The Body Shop this week to collect information.

“Importantly, this declining use of physical punishment has been going on for at least the last two or three decades.  The child discipline law affirms that it is right for parents to avoid physical punishment.

“New Zealand parents are finding other ways to bring up children who are secure, confident, understand limits and boundaries and behave well, without physical punishment.  As such, they can be confident about the legal protection granted children in the child discipline law and they can be confident about how the law is working.

“A Yes vote in the forthcoming referendum is consistent with the positive parenting people are using.  Voting papers will be mailed this week and a ‘yes’ vote is the best way people can express their support for a national maturing of attitudes to the way we treat our children,” concluded Ms Morris-Travers.

Making sense of police statistics

July 18, 2009

On 10 July 2009 the Police released their 4th six-monthly report on Police activity since the statutory defence for assault on a child was removed from the Crimes Act 1961.

In an article printed in the New Zealand Herald [11 July] –  “Big jump in child assaults reports” by  Simon Collins claims that the number of minor assaults reported to the police has jumped 40% since the three month period before the law change.  Taken at face value this could be interpreted as the 2007 law leading to a huge increase in the number of “good” parents being referred to the Police for correcting their children by simply smacking them. This is not the case.

To understand why, it’s important to knowhow the Police categorise the cases they report on.  Police do not spell out the nature of the events involved in the cases they report but only say that, The terms “smacking”, “minor acts of physical discipline” and “other child assaults” are terms created for monitoring purposes so that the reviews accurately reflect the complex nature and context of each case.  But in fact they represent a hierarchy with “other child assaults” being the heavier end of physical punishment.

By putting the categories together, looking at monthly averages and coming up with the 40% figure Simon creates a misleading impression.

If we use Simon’s average per month approach separately for each category we find that where “smacking” is concerned there is less than a 1% increase between the three month period before the law change and the figures reported in the last Police review.  But in fact the numbers reported are so small that it is nonsense to talk percentages at all. About 1 case a month in the three month before law change and about 1.03 in the last review period is not a statistically significant change.

Looking at the “minor acts of physical discipline category” we find that there has been a 100% increase between the three month period before law reform and the last set of figures.  But in fact we are talking about the difference between say 3 cases a month and 6 cases a month – again too small a number to be meaningful.

In the third category “Other Child Assault” we are looking at a rise from about 27 cases a month to 34 cases a month in the relevant periods – a little over 25% increase – but again 7 cases is not a statistically significant change.

The slight increase in reporting at the heavier ends of physical punishment should be interpreted positively – as demonstrating a greater willingness on the part of the public to report concerns about the way a child is treated – and as making more opportunities for parents to be given support and guidance to manage their children’s behaviour in more positive ways.

The case of the Christchurch ‘ear-flick’ Dad who apparently punched his child on the face and was given an anger management sentence illustrates the point.

We must also keep in mind that the total number of prosecutions in the  “smacking” and minor acts of physical discipline categories has been vey small over the whole period.

Disciplining dad

July 3, 2009

Scott Kara’s (rough) guide to being a first-time dad on his New Zealand Herald blog

Most of the time, I’m a big softie. But this week, with Incredible Hulk-like tendencies, I turned into Super Domineering Dad by taking a stand and putting the little one into time out for the first time.

I thought I was looking out for her personal safety with my tough and loving stance. Crikey, she’d pulled herself up onto the cabinet in front of the TV, which is a fair-old fall to the wooden floor boards below, and was slapping the plasma screen with glee. It was the third time – in quick succession – she’d done it so what’s a dad to do?

While that might not sound like dastardly behaviour I couldn’t help but imagine that slab of electronic wizardry falling off the wall and squishing little honey lamb into a shrink-wrapped luncheon sausage.

It turns out, I think time out is a miserable failure and my wife and I don’t believe in it anymore. Not that it didn’t work, I just didn’t give it a chance. In fact, I was the miserable failure because my heart caved in to an uncontrollable longing to pick her up, hug her, and wipe those tears dry after shutting that door in her face.

So what do you do to stamp out wilful toddler tantrums and disobedience? Because, as Mr Ear Clip of Christchurch found out earlier this week, times have changed when it comes to discipline.

Gone are the days when mum cracked the wooden spoon on the bench as a threat – and boy, did my sister and I laugh when it broke on one occasion. Then there was the ultimate I-mean-business threat of dad – a far bigger softie than I am – pretending to take off his belt.

So instead of time out I’m resorting to either asking the little critter nicely to do something; praising her by way of coercion; ignoring her and hoping like hell she stops doing it eventually; or – and this is best of all – distracting her (which requires a ball, a puzzle, or, if I’m desperado, a TV show).

But hang on a minute, I thought I was meant to be a parent? I thought I was the one calling the shots?

Maybe I should harden up, stop being such a sook, and stick to my guns.

Then again, no matter what your approach, disciplining a toddler – and a teenager for that matter – is always going to be torture.

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

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