Posts Tagged physical violence

Russell Brown: The son that got away

September 3, 2009

Russell Brown has been in contact with the son of the “riding crop lady”, and posted some of the conversation on Public Address:

There’s a good deal that can’t be said about the so-called “Timaru Lady”, whose Section 59 acquittal on charges of assaulting her son with a riding crop and a cane really began the recent smacking madness. The permanent suppression order the followed her acquittal has seen to that.

But I can say that she has an older son in Auckland, with whom I have occasionally been in contact. His first email to me, last year, included this passage:

Let me start by firstly saying I left home during high school because of the physical abuse and have nothing further to do with my mother other than through countless family court hearings with me trying to get my brothers and sisters removed from her care.

Anyway the point of my email is that I talked to Family First several times years ago and they were aware of [redacted]’s past and I even gave them more informed details but they were more than happy just to brush it over and use her as a political catalyst. It makes me really angry and I did fire back at them at the time they were supporting violence against our children. But however. You will find a couple more organisations such as Anti-Cyfs organisations …. that fully support her. I really think someone should bring this to light.

For more, see the full post at Public Address.

Anjum Rahman: An Islamic perspective on child discipline

April 17, 2009

Physical violence as a form of discipline is standard for most cultures around the world. Many Muslim parents are in the habit of using physical punishment, sometimes of a severe nature. This is despite there being no verse in the Qur’an requiring or even condoning the physical discipline of children. Neither is there any instance of Muhammad ever striking a child. He never used violence as a form of discipline on his own children or grandchildren.

There are some instances where physical punishment is allowed, for example to ensure that a child completes the daily prayers. In this example, physical discipline can only be used as a last resort for children of 10 years or older.

Even the most conservative scholars agree that a child should not be struck in anger. There is a strong requirement in Islam to show love and mercy towards children, and to preserve their dignity – this is just as much a right of the child as the right to be fed, clothed, and educated. One of my favourite stories is this one:

Abu Hurairah reported: The Prophet (Muhammad) kissed his grandson Al-Hasan bin `Ali in the presence of Al-Aqra` bin Habis. Thereupon he (Al-Aqra` bin Habis) remarked: “I have ten children and I have never kissed any one of them.” The Messenger of Allah (Muhammad) looked at him and said, “He who does not show mercy to others will not be shown mercy”.

From my own experience, I have never seen a child hit or smacked in an absence of anger. I’ve never seen or experienced a parent who has sat down with the child, explained what was done wrong in a loving manner, and then smacked the child with love. I’m not saying it never happens, but that I haven’t seen it. Smacking has either been a response of the moment as a result of anger or a calculated attempt to instill fear.

Fear as a method of raising children is effective in that it limits behaviour and enforces compliance. The consequence is that this fear damages the relationship between child and parent. Children are unlikely to confide their troubles to parents who they fear. A parent should not be resorting to fear, but to respect and love. The best form of discipline is, of course, being an example yourself of the kind of conduct you wish to inspire in your children.

Given this background, I had no problem with the 2007 changes to Section 59. I don’t believe it criminalised parents who smack their children, but rather it removed a defense for those who abuse them. There was a lot of benefit to the debate as well, in that many parents started thinking more deeply about how they disciplined their children. Many sought more information on better disciplinary techniques which would improve their parenting skills.

The proposed referendum is mischievous in its intent. The wording does not mention Section 59, it does not provide any solutions to dealing with the “reasonable force” defense which resulted in juries discharging parents who had used severe forms of physical violence. The referendum question shows little interest in the welfare or the rights of children, and that is its biggest failing. Children are not able to speak or advocate for themselves, nor do they have any ability to participate in the law-making process. It is up to us, as adults, to protect those rights and ensure that the vulnerable are kept safe.

Anjum Rahman is a founding member of Shama (Hamilton Ethnic Women’s Centre) and the Islamic Women’s Council, as well as being involved with the Hamilton Peace Movement and various interfaith activities.  She was a Labour list candidate at the last election, and blogs at The Hand Mirror.

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

Popular Subjects on this site

Legal compliance

If you are going to use or distribute material from our campaign in any way, eg remixed or mashed up, please ensure that your actions are compliant with the relevant legislation, as the Yes Vote Coalition cannot take responsibility for actions beyond our control or knowledge.

The bottom line is that we want to play by the rules. We appreciate your support, but please act ethically, thoughtfully, and within the law.

Please see our Legal Disclaimer for more information.