The Yes Vote – NZ Referendum on Child Discipline 2009

Here is a website, yesvote.org.nz, that spells the issue out very well, and makes a call to action that is hard to resist. I haven’t spoken to anyone in the party about it yet, and invite all frogblog readers to visit the site and express their views. The opening says it all:

Aotearoa New Zealand can be a place where children are secure, confident, understand limits and boundaries and behave well – without physical punishment.

In 2007, by an overwhelming majority of 113 to 8 votes, Parliament granted children protection from assault by their parents. The law is working well but is under threat from an upcoming referendum, to be held by postal ballot in July and August 2009.

We urge you to take action.

A ‘yes’ vote is a vote to retain a law that is working well.
A ‘yes’ vote is a vote to protect children from assault.
A ‘yes’ vote is a vote for positive parenting.
A ‘yes’ vote is supported by Barnardos, Plunket, Save the Children, Unicef and many other respected child-focussed organisations.

Let’s try and avoid the usual personal attacks and focus on the real issue behind the poorly worded referendum. Most importantly, make sure you vote!

89 Comments Posted

  1. S59 allowed a defence of reasonable force against prosecution. That is not the same as a right to smack.

    I believe the intent of the lawmakers was to allow a ‘reasonable’ smack.

    Well, you are the only person I’ve ever heard argue this point. It is widely accepted in all the commentary I’ve read that s59 was “intended to be used as a defence against a charge of assault”, just to quote one source. So you’ll have to tell us more than just what you believe if you want serious consideration.

    The police always had this right. Indeed the Police must be able to use their judgement in this area no matter what the law says.

    I see this as utter cr@p I’m afraid. I don’t want the police interpreting the law, that is the role of the courts. The police should have a ‘zero tolerance’ policy and leave the courts to determine guilt and sentence.

    It may be what you want, but it ain’t what we got. The relevant amendment was:

    To avoid doubt, it is affirmed that the Police have the discretion not to prosecute complaints against a parent of a child or person in the place of a parent of a child in relation to an offence involving the use of force against a child, where the offence is considered to be so inconsequential that there is no public interest in proceeding with a prosecution.

    “To avoid doubt, it is affirmed” – why would they use such wording if they weren’t talking about a power that already existed? Of course, they were, as the explanatory note shows:

    The Police have a long-established discretion as to the action they take in regard to complaints about minor breaches of the law reported to them. That discretion is essential to daily policing.

    If the Police were obliged to take extensive action about every minor complaint, they would have little time for investigating serious crime. So long as each case is assessed on its merits and the Police are not simply refusing to enforce a law that has been passed by Parliament, the courts have acknowledged the existence of the Police’s discretion in individual cases.

    If the Police were required to prosecute every breach of the law that came to their notice, the courts would quickly become clogged with trivial cases and the law would be brought into disrepute. For that reason they exercise their discretion to warn, or take action other than prosecution, in thousands of cases each year. The existence of guidelines issued by the Solicitor-General as to the public interest factors that should be considered in making a decision whether or not to prosecute emphasises the importance of this discretion.

    While under the common law there is no doubt that this discretion applies to minor complaints of assault, it is desirable that Parliament expressly affirms it in cases to which this section applies.

    And thank goodness too, as a situation where the Police had to apply with zero tolerance a law defining when to intervene between a parent and a child would lead to disasters no matter how the law was written.

  2. Valis Said: April 23rd, 2009 at 5:42 pm

    S59 allowed a defence of reasonable force against prosecution. That is not the same as a right to smack.

    I believe the intent of the lawmakers was to allow a ‘reasonable’ smack. As to “rights”, well that’s a discussion for another day. Let’s stick to legal and illegal.

    The police always had this right. Indeed the Police must be able to use their judgement in this area no matter what the law says.

    I see this as utter cr@p I’m afraid. I don’t want the police interpreting the law, that is the role of the courts. The police should have a ‘zero tolerance’ policy and leave the courts to determine guilt and sentence.

    re: you don’t have to be convicted to be a criminal,

    If I do 105k on the highway, the Police will neither arrest me, nor do I believe I am a criminal. If I do 130, they will and I am.

    Again, this shows a lack of understanding of the law, which provides for an error of calibration in a speedometer of 10 kph. If you purposely drive with 105kph as the reading on your speedometer you are committing a crime, if the reading is 100 but the actual speed is 105 you are not a criminal by definition.

    RE: Secondly, it took the judgement away from the courts and put it in the hands of the Police…

    As I’ve explained, it left this situation unchanged, as the Police always had such discretion. Secondly, to think you can write a law regarding when to interfere between a parent and child and escape the use of Police judgement is optimistic indeed.

    See my comment above. Zero tolerance by the police, interpretation, determination and sentencing by the courts – THAT is the rule of law.

    I have read where people have got off after using pieces of wood and hose. Is there a difference?

    To be honest, I doubt it, but don’t know as I have not read the transcript, and neither, I think, have you. What is true is that newspapers will dramatise reports to grab attention – that’s what they do for a living. If I have to chose between a jury decision and one by the police as to guilt or innocence, I’ll take the jury, otherwise why bother with them? A police state, or the rule of law, take your pick!

    Corporal punishment has been banned in schools for some time, so a teacher could not do what you suggest they should even before s59 was repealed. They have found ways to manage and certainly don’t need a right to smack.

    I wonder at your logic at times. The number of teachers who have walked away from the profession because they can’t manage is legion, and these are usually the dedicated teachers, who find joy and fulfillment in the subjects they taught. We have a generation that has a significant component who do not understand discipline, who are terrorising weaker members of society – young and old -, who are flaunting the law and not expecting any response. This does not bode well for the future, believe me!

    But you go your way and I’ll go mine. My children were punished at school when needed, I paid directly for their education and signed papers giving the school that authority. I have a great relationship with all my kids, we hug and kiss when we meet, they respect others property and their own, they too believe in the rule of law and I am proud of them. My belief in what is right and wrong in relation to raising children comes from the experience of raising seven, and I will rest on that experience.

  3. Shunda said: The difference between “care” and “control” can be a pretty fine line at times, and this referendum is about that line being crossed.
    Yes Shunda, that’s very true. Remember to vote ‘YES’.

  4. The law pre S59 allowed ‘reasonable’ discipline of a child, and left it, quite rightly, to the courts to decide what “reasonable” would be in the circumstances that pertained.

    S59 allowed a defence of reasonable force against prosecution. That is not the same as a right to smack.

    S59, however, took away reasonability, and made it illegal to tap a child on the elbow with your little finger. The police were then told to use their judgement about prosecuting.

    The police always had this right. Indeed the Police must be able to use their judgement in this area no matter what the law says.

    you don’t have to be convicted to be a criminal,

    I would call that pedantic. If I do 105k on the highway, the Police will neither arrest me, nor do I believe I am a criminal. If I do 130, they will and I am. Somewhere between is a judgement call that makes all the difference.

    Secondly, it took the judgement away from the courts and put it in the hands of the Police…

    As I’ve explained, it left this situation unchanged, as the Police always had such discretion. Secondly, to think you can write a law regarding when to interfere between a parent and child and escape the use of Police judgement is optimistic indeed.

    The proponents of S59 argue that ‘offenders’ would use the excuse that hitting a five year old with a steel belt buckle as ‘reasonable force’; they were right! However, that doesn’t mean that a jury would accept that argument, and I have yet to read a decision that said they did!

    Neither have I, but I have read where people have got off after using pieces of wood and hose. Is there a difference?

    Corporal punishment has been banned in schools for some time, so a teacher could not do what you suggest they should even before s59 was repealed. They have found ways to manage and certainly don’t need a right to smack.

  5. Valis

    Some think that its all due to the s59 repeal, forgetting that smacking was never legal

    Don’t let facts get in your way will you!

    The law pre S59 allowed ‘reasonable’ discipline of a child, and left it, quite rightly, to the courts to decide what “reasonable” would be in the circumstances that pertained.

    S59, however, took away reasonability, and made it illegal to tap a child on the elbow with your little finger. The police were then told to use their judgement about prosecuting. This, to me, raised two things I do not believe are appropriate. Firstly, the elbow tap became a criminal offense; you don’t have to be convicted to be a criminal, if you break the law you are one. Secondly, it took the judgement away from the courts and put it in the hands of the Police; taking away the centuries old right to be judged by a jury of peers (plural being the key) and making the police investigators and judges – a combination specifically avoided by our traditional judicial system.

    The proponents of S59 argue that ‘offenders’ would use the excuse that hitting a five year old with a steel belt buckle as ‘reasonable force’; they were right! However, that doesn’t mean that a jury would accept that argument, and I have yet to read a decision that said they did!

    What we have here is an approach to control of the population that is not needed in a civil society. Juries don’t accept incredible ‘excuses’ for irrational and illegal actions in a society that has values and maintains them, and therein lies our problem.

    Scenario 1959, a child misbehaves in a classroom and goes so far as to swear at the teacher and throw an inkwell at them, that causes bleeding. The teacher takes the boy by the ear, marches him down to the Head Master’s office, explains what has happened, leaves the boy with the Head Master and goes to the staff-room for a band-aid. The boy is given six strokes of the cane on each hand and returns to the classroom, he never loses his temper in class again as the pain of punishment stays with him as a deterrent,

    Scenario 2009, a child misbehaves in a classroom and goes so far as to swear at the teacher and throw an inkwell at them, that causes bleeding. The teacher takes the boy by the ear, marches him down to the Head Master’s office, explains what has happened, leaves the boy with the Head Master and goes to the staff-room for a band-aid. . The boy is taken to hospital for treatment to his ‘assaulted’ ear and to register an ACC claim; a counselor is brought to the boy to help him deal with his anger problems and resentment at being hurt by a teacher, the police are called and the teacher is charged the next day with assault on a child, is fined $1,000 and loses their job. Next time a teacher tries to establish order in a class with that bot in it they are threatened with loss of their job if they so much as look at the boy with malice in mind!

    Why has the second scenario come about? Because we have ‘banned’ discipline of children by appropriate adults using reasonable action, and not replaced it with anything else. WE can’t ‘ban’ the child from misbehaving without having some form of punishment if they break the ban; counselling the child and sacking the adult are NOT appropriate punishment, that is clear, but what is? Over to you!

  6. Valis that is not an answer to a question I asked. If you are going to state you are answering one of my questions, you really need to answer a question that I asked. Utilising logic would also help.

    Well davec, I’m the only one who even tried to answer your question, so if that’s your attitude, particularly when I’ve done nothing to offend, then I see no reason to try again.

    This is about a shift in ideology throughout our state system that is not supported by any logical evidence, it has nothing to do with parents using S59 to get away with abuse.

    You are right that it has nothing to do with s59, nor with the repeal. Good or bad, the current system has been developing as it has over years independently of the s59 debate. Some think that its all due to the s59 repeal, forgetting that smacking was never legal and Sue’s bill only coincedentally was pulled from the ballot when it was.

  7. ” Should each parent, for example, decide whether their neighbours pool should be fenced or not? What about the family on the other side?”

    Of course the state has to pass laws for the common good of all, but protecting kids from drowning is a little bit different to banning a long held method of discipline. The question in all this is how much “care” the state is required to give its citizens. The difference between “care” and “control” can be a pretty fine line at times, and this referendum is about that line being crossed.

  8. shunda – “No, control freaks!”
    There. Are you satisfied now?
    I sympathise with your situation, but it still remains true, doesn’t it, that there are many people, aside from the child’s parents, who have responsibility for a child’s welbeing. Should they be overlooked when it comes to decisions about what to do and where? Should each parent, for example, decide whether their neighbours pool should be fenced or not? What about the family on the other side?
    Be positive Shunda, don’t be a ‘no’ man. Vote ‘yes’.

  9. Greenfly said:
    “Are parents the only ones obligated etc…? How about teachers and administraters at schools and child care personel for examples of others charged with the same responsibility.:

    If you read my earlier posts you will see that I had a serious issue with the way these state employee’s were “caring” for my child.
    Then instead of dealing with the issue at hand (bullying) they started asking whether he was smacked at home!
    This is evidence of indoctrination and subtle guilting, that any legalistic evangelical preacher would be proud of!
    This is about a shift in ideology throughout our state system that is not supported by any logical evidence, it has nothing to do with parents using S59 to get away with abuse.
    I have since been told that school social workers have to ask children they have contact with, whether they get smacked at home. It is done in the same way as women being asked about domestic violence as a matter of policy.
    A no vote is the only common sense thing any of us can do to avoid this blatant violation of our rights as parents, this whole anti smacking crowd reek of a dogmatic religious fervor.
    Say no to the control freaks!!

  10. Valis that is not an answer to a question I asked. If you are going to state you are answering one of my questions, you really need to answer a question that I asked. Utilising logic would also help.

  11. Mark

    stringS. As is 6 in this case, a nickname bestowed in my early 20s (Nick was alreeady taken it would seem) when I played folk-blues guitar for a ‘living’ to work my way through uni & b-school.

    (-_-)

  12. Valis

    Not sure I read it that way, but if you say so, I will believe you.

    Gud on yer

    Greenfly
    There definitely seemed something feminine at times to your thinking. But WTH, I’m only a man so what do I know?!

  13. So you are arguing that because YOU have no self control, my children should become criminals by definition?

    Strings, please also put your glasses on. I said nothing of the sort. The very next line following what you quote says the opposite of what you claim. And the following paragraph says exactly why I support the current law. Not sure how you missed it.

    davec, the above is also my answer to your question.

  14. Indeed, lets.
    One footnote from me. Girl? With three grown children to my delightful wife and the prospect of grandchildren of my own sometime in the near future, the title ‘gurl’ seems a little quaint!

  15. String (how long); Yep Right. Dangerous Words, and quite wrong too – these people actually belong in a Hospital (I believe in a constant reconstruction of our thinking).

  16. Let’s leave the matter where it is eh?

    Just one footnote. Spinster? With Seven Children and four grandchildren! When I was yuoung you didn’t leave a lady with a baby and move on to the next sh@g like they do tody, you stuck around and had more babies 🙂

    But thanks for the thought. My pen1s appreciates it (-_-)

  17. strings, you saucy ol’ spinster you, I’ve mired us in the Frightful Bog of Cross-Purpose and Incomplete Understanding, I’m afraid.
    I took these: So you are arguing that because YOU have no self control, my children should become criminals by definition? Shame on you!
    to be your words. I read ‘YOU have no self control’ to be a sweeping overstatement and felt that ‘YOU had insufficient self control at the time’ was the more fair statement.
    I don’t know if this helps clarify. If not and I am deepening the hole, then I apologise and will retire from the chase.

  18. Finally Greenfly, may I suugest that you

    Try taking the sensible approach and seek to understand what was meant by the person making the original statement. Then discuss the ramifications.

    ?

  19. Greenfly

    To the first – gud on ya gurl
    to the second – erm? How can it be and mischievous when HE said it; and, erm, the final ‘cluster’ of claims, would that be, erm

    So you are arguing that because YOU have no self control, my children should become criminals by definition? Shame on you!

    Given that Valis supports the law as it stands

    Valis Says: April 19th, 2009 at 10:53 pm
    My reasons for supporting the current law are what I’ve said above

    and that law makes my children criminals (irrespective of whether they are prosecuted or not) if the smack one of their (or anyone else’s for that matter) children for gross misbehaviour (a point I made earlier), I don’t believe my comment is disjointed or nonsensicle.

    However, I am always ready to admit a mistake, so if you can show me where and how I have erred I WILL apologise.

  20. strings – thanks for the reminder, they’re fixed firmly to my head now.
    strings – your accusation that Valis ‘has no self control’ is false and mischevious. In fact your final cluster of claims is so disjointed and nonsensical that is is laughable.

  21. Greenfly

    I didn’t accuse Sapient of having no self control, I accused Valis, and HE did. The quote

    I have three teenagers. All were smacked when very young. . . . . . . . . . I remember many times when it was just my own frustration and lack of control.

    is from his post above at April 18th, 2009 at 5:09 pm

    Please put your glasses on, there’s a good girl (-_-)

  22. Kevyn said: As long as parents are the only ones legally obligated to provide their child with the necessities of life then the parents should be the only ones who have a say in the way their child is brought up.

    Are parents the only ones obligated etc…? How about teachers and administraters at schools and child care personel for examples of others charged with the same responsibility. Aren’t we all charged with the care of children, in that we are not able, for example, to leave a swimming pool unfenced? Care of children extends more widely than to just the parents of a particular child. If that is the case, surely the wider community should have input with regard ‘how the child is brought up’. Children don’t usually spend all of their childhood at home.
    strings – your accusation that sapient ‘has no self control’ is false and mischevious. In fact your final cluster of claims is so disjointed and nonsensical that is is laughable.

  23. Sapient – apologies, I lmfao at that one, thank you for pointing it out.

    Mark – ‘can’ means having the ability, and oxymoronic was not my intent – my intent was to show how badly worded outbursts, such as yours, can be VERY dangerous.

    Valis Says: April 18th, 2009 at 5:09 pm

    I have three teenagers. All were smacked when very young. . . . . . . . . . I remember many times when it was just my own frustration and lack of control.

    So you are arguing that because YOU have no self control, my children should become criminals by definition? Shame on you!

  24. Strings: Semantics – ‘Can’ means the Psychological ability to committ abuse that is beyond Law, beyond self-control and most often beyond Sanity.
    Since we aren’t sitting around a table – it is efficacious for you to focus on mainstream points, not engage in another primal oxymoron – nitpicking.

  25. A yes vote is yes for what? It is not a vote for the current law on corrective discipline. It is not a vote for the old law. It is a vote that good smacking should be a criminal offence, in the same way that good smoking is when you smoke the cigarette from the filter end.

    Actually the yes vote is a no vote. It is saying no to those who vote no. It is a protest vote . Anyway, for the ” yes” voters, if you believe that laws should be enforced, why don’t your believe that parents who lightly smack their kids for the purpose of correction thus breaking the law – should be prosecuted?

  26. Oh, we have moved on since the days when everyone thought it was quite in order for Abraham to kill his son because he heard voices. Today everyone thinks it’s quite in order for for his son to kill Abraham as long as his son attends a family conference afterwards and writes a letter of apology.

    As long as parents are the only ones legally obligated to provide their child with the necessities of life then the parents should be the only ones who have a say in the way their child is brought up.

    Fortunately we haven’t totally regressed from exercising common sense.

  27. It is disturbing to note how many on this blog think only parents should have a say in the way children are brought up. It is as if they own the children. I thought we had moved on since the days when everyone thought it was quite in order for Abraham to kill his son because he heard voices, but obviously not.

  28. “The only thing that would give me pause is if the study actually recommended smacking”

    There is no mandate for that conclusion, they are simply reporting on the facts as they have found them.
    And the link between smacking and creating violent adults has been destroyed by the evidence.
    It would appear that all human beings regardless of age, have a sense of justice, ie a child knows when they deserve punishment for their actions.
    It would appear that abuse can create a sense of injustice, which leads to righteous anger, which leads to resentment, which then leads to more violence.

  29. My tuppenceworth. (Old money is SO valuable these days – lol)

    My youngest ‘child’ is 25, so I don’t have a direct involvement in the debate. However, my 34 year old daughter, 33 year old son and 289 year old daughter have four children between them, so I do have a vested interest. I don’t want my sons and daughters to be criminals for doing something that has evolved over eons as an appropriate way to put emphasis on the lessons of what is right and what is wrong.

    I believe in the rule of law, and I believe in a zero tolerance regime. I’m older than most here, and feel I am entitled to my beliefs, having seen the consequences of legal ‘interpretation by police’ and ‘no-person harmed’ approaches to society’s laws. To me, irrespective of their being caught or not, a person who tags my home or car or dog is a criminal; and so is someone who smacks their child in any way form or severity. The former, to me, makes sense, the latter does not. When we have a body of psychologists starting a movement to ban ‘naughty corners/steps/mats/places’ because they do not allow a child the opportunity to ‘receive parental counseling and engage in constructive dialogue regarding their behaviour’ we are moving to a space that has NO punishment at all for children who break a family or societal code of acceptable behaviour. This is not a practical world!

    While a skeptic for over 5 decades, I have recently come to understand some of the deep wisdom in ‘granny’s words of wisdom’. I hope we, as a society, don’t want to make criminals of everyone who raises children, and that we can learn from the accumulated wisdom of our ancestors!

    On some specific comments above . . . . . .

    [Blockquote] Mark,
    “Anyone who can assault a child belongs behind bars.”
    [/Blockquote]
    IN the same way as every male has the equipment for rape, anyone CAN assault a child. Start thinking with precision please so we can have a decent debate.

    [Blockquote] BluePeter Says:
    April 18th, 2009 at 11:20 am
    Pattrick Smellie , eh.
    A ‘yes’ vote is a vote to protect children from assault
    [/Blockquote]
    RUBBISH is the right response – A yes vote means that an assaulter may be prosecuted.

  30. Hey Valis

    Greenfly = 20 (17/3/09) + 20 (17/3/09+ 10 (1/4/09) + 10 (1/4/09) + 20 (4/4/09) + 20 (17/4/09) = 100 = 1 week ban until 25 April 2009

    My argument that junk food produces obese children who later in life suffer from knee problems didn’t resonate comfortably with Mr Farrar. I regard the resulting ban as a knee-jerk reaction.

  31. Well it is nearly bedtime. The thread has gone silent because no one has added anything new or worth commenting on. Pasting a whole Herald editorial that’s been linked to many times before in this debate doesn’t make it new. My reasons for supporting the current law are what I’ve said above and are compatible with the longitudinal study. The only thing that would give me pause is if the study actually recommended smacking, but it does not appear to.

  32. “Remember to vote ‘yes’ to the referrendum question, shunda.”

    You really are a very cheeky bug greenfly 🙂

  33. Smacking study hits at claims of harm
    5:00AM Saturday Oct 07, 2006
    By Simon Collins

    Groundbreaking New Zealand research has refuted thousands of international studies which claim that smacking children makes them more likely to become aggressive and antisocial.

    Children who are smacked lightly with an open hand on the bottom, hand or leg do much the same in later life as those who are not smacked, found the Dunedin multidisciplinary health and development study, which has tracked 1000 children since they were born in the city in 1972-73.

    The finding, based on interviews in the past two years when the children were 32-year-olds, will be published this year.

    An earlier part of the study published in the NZ Medical Journal in January, found that 80 per cent of the sample had been physically punished at home during childhood.

    Twenty-nine per cent of the whole sample had only ever been smacked. A further 45 per cent had been hit with an object such as a strap or wooden spoon, and 6 per cent had suffered “extreme physical punishment” that left cuts, lasting bruises or welts or involved out-of-control hitting, choking, being thrown or sexually violated.

    Numerous overseas studies have shown that children who are physically punished are more likely to be aggressive and antisocial, have poor parent-child relationships and develop mental illnesses.

    But the lead author of the physical punishment part of the Dunedin study, psychologist Jane Millichamp, said the project appeared to be the first long-term study in the world to separate out those who had merely been smacked with an open hand.

    Preliminary analysis showed that those who were merely smacked had “similar or even slightly better outcomes” than those who were not smacked in terms of aggression, substance abuse, adult convictions and school achievement.

    “Study members in the ‘smacking only’ category of punishment appeared to be particularly high-functioning and achieving members of society,” she said.

    “I have looked at just about every study I can lay my hands on, and there are thousands, and I have not found any evidence that an occasional mild smack with an open hand on the clothed behind or the leg or hand is harmful or instils violence in kids,” she said.

    “I know that is not a popular thing to say, but it is certainly the case.

    “The more honest researchers have said, let’s be honest, we all wish we could say it’s all very clear and that no parent should ever lift a finger on a child – although I think that is totally unrealistic as a single parent myself – but the big problem is that a lot of the studies have lumped a whole lot of forms of physical punishment together.”

    Dr Millichamp said the Dunedin study so far found no evidence of the “slippery slope” theory – that parents who started off smacking often progressed to abusive punishments.

    “We couldn’t find any,” she said.

    The findings undermine Green MP Sue Bradford’s bill to repeal section 59 of the Crimes Act, which allows parents to use “reasonable force” to discipline children.

    Dr Millichamp said there was no doubt that abusive punishments had long-lasting negative consequences, but the research did not support banning mild smacks.

    “It’s unethical to make out that there is a lot of evidence that mild smacking is harmful,” she said.

    She and colleague Judy Martin have made a written submission to Parliament suggesting that section 59 should be retained but amended to allow smacking with an open hand, but not hitting with a closed fist or certain objects.
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10404809

  34. Shunda – I certainly was and I certainly did! Who’d have thought Farrar would have been so sensitive about the condition of his knees? I worked hard to get banned and reckon I deserve a holiday. The light here on Frogblog is much clearer and insects aren’t hated out of hand.
    Remember to vote ‘yes’ to the referrendum question, shunda.

  35. “it’s illegal to assault an adult so why should you be able to (smack) assault a child?.”

    It’s legal to have sex with a consulting adult so it should be legal to have sex with a child? [ Correct answer No children aren’t adults + apples with pears mistake]

    Ofcourse the reason every member of the Green party supports the green Party position is because they measure it against the Green Charter Non violence principle (or claim too)?

  36. greenfly, I hear you’ve been a naughty aphid over on kiwiblog, did you really get banned? cause I didn’t see DPF actually say that.

  37. “Shunda, so you don’t know the answer to my question?”
    No, but I know the character of the social worker from another reference, and have been told the same thing from a CYF’s employee.
    They have to ask if the kids get smacked, it is up to YOU to prove that this is not the case, I am only repeating what I was told by 2 government employee’s.

  38. Shunda, so you don’t know the answer to my question?

    And a reminder to provide us that reference please.

    Thanks.

  39. “And did the social worker also say that she didn’t used to ask about smacking?”

    She said she HAD to ask, therefore this is not a passive law, but an attempt by the state to identify and note which parents are smacking their kids, when they come into contact with the state system.
    This is hard evidence that the law change has nothing to do with abusive parents and everything to do with pushing a new doctrine of child dicipline.
    Remember, my kid was being assaulted by other kids at school, under the states control, I try to do something through the correct channels, and hello dolly, my wife and I are being grilled and made to feel guilty about how we are raising our kids.

  40. Reference please. Got a page number?

    And did the social worker also say that she didn’t used to ask about smacking?

  41. “Beneficial – you mean it recommends we all smack our kids? Please show me where it says that.”

    No, it shows that far from causing harm to people in later life, (as the anti smackers claim), there is evidence of above average outcomes for adults that were mildly physically diciplined as children.

  42. “I have great sympathy with Shunda’s bad experience, but social workers have been accused of such things for ever, both justified and not.”

    You miss the point, we actually had a good social worker who said they wouldn’t record that we occasionally smacked our children (whether she did or not is another story), she told us she HAD to ask the question.
    We could have just as easily had a “bad” social worker who may have had a similar attitude to Michaela above, thinking we are slave drivers, and we would likely now be in some patronising parenting course for re-education.
    Remember, we agreed to see the social worker because of bullying and severe emotional distress our son was experiencing at school UNDER THE STATES CARE and somehow OUR method of parenting becomes a big issue.
    It all comes down to the particular private or political beliefs of the social worker, and that is unaceptable, why do they HAVE to ask about smacking?

  43. BP:

    If I must err on the side of the two, I will not hand more control to people, like say CYFS workers or Sue wanna-bes, who may have limited intellect, and might be fanatic loons.

    I could say the same about the Police, or anyone else. Both groups have hugely difficult jobs and I expect most try to do their best. I have great sympathy with Shunda’s bad experience, but social workers have been accused of such things for ever, both justified and not. S59 repeal is just a convenient whipping boy.

    Nor will I contribute to the growing pool of badly behaved children who understand rights, but not responsibilities and consequences.

    What science says children will only understand responsibilities and consequences if they are smacked?

    wat:

    Why would the police use their discretion in your favour in your own example?

    Because it was minor like you are arguing for and the Police have been instructed not to take action in such cases.

    You would have a criminal record by now, which would follow you for the rest of your life and, for example, affect your employment prospects and prevent you from working with children or being able to emigrate to another country.

    The Police report no increase in the incidence of arrests since the law changes came into force. This is because before the law change, they could also arrest you for smacking a kid but didn’t when it was minor. Nothing has changed for them on the ground.

    You don’t seem to think of yourself as a monster, and I don’t think you are; which is why I oppose legislation like this which criminalises such minor incidents and damages family cohesion.

    OK, it seems like you don’t understand how the law works. Does the above clear that up now?

    The very existence of such legislation creates a moral hazard; when parents have the right to use corporal punishment they often have no cause to use it, but remove that sanction and you can significantly alter children’s attitudes and behaviour. You don’t help children with these laws.

    I think you’re talking out your ass now.

    Shunda:

    The real question is how can a minority party push an extreme ideological position on an entire population, using child abuse as an excuse?

    The answer of course is it can’t and didn’t. Of the 113 votes for, only 6 were Green. Perhaps that’s really a question for others like John Key, who thinks the law is working fine.

    remember, only a handfull of people ever even used S59 as a defence, so this ecercise is a catastrophic waste of everybodies money.

    That’s a lame excuse to do nothing about a bad situation. If people had just remained calm at the time we’d be carrying on very much as before, except that those who really did beat their kids and got caught wouldn’t be let off. Remember there never was a right to smack, s59 only got you off after you’d been put to trial for something the cops thought was very bad. They have the same discretion now that they had before.

    Remember, the law had already been passed so public “debate” was quelched, so the only thing citizens can do is try to force a referendum.

    The public had its say on this bill, just like any other, at select committee. The concerns were heard and the bill modified to the point that almost the whole House voted for it.

    All I want, is for the people behind these laws to be intelectually honest enough to admit that this whole deal is about advancing a particular ideology or doctrine on the rest of us.

    I’ve given you my reason for supporting the law:

    The crux of the issue for me is this. The relationship between a parent and child is about the closest we have and must be respected. At the same time, there are times when the state must be able to intervene. There is simply no way to make this decision an easy one. There is no way a perfect law can be written. Society will err on one side or the other, allowing the potential for too much intervention or for too little. The only thing we can do is decide a suitable place to draw the line and then give those making the crucial decision on the spot the ability to use their judgment. You can draw the line to err on the side of a parent’s rights, or on the side of the child’s safety. If I must err, I choose to favour the more vulnerable of the two, the child, and trust the police to make the right choices.

    Do you really think I’m making this up?

    No one has yet offered an explaination to the Otago multi diciplinery study that shows a strong link that light smacking is beneficial to a child

    Beneficial – you mean it recommends we all smack our kids? Please show me where it says that.

  44. “I gave several citations to demonstrate this and it is incumbent upon those who would claim otherwise to provide evidence to the contrary”

    Michella, we live in a democracy, and it is a very small number of people who are educated in a particular field. Citing studies is fine in an academic context, but this is politics, and you have to frame the issue to win it – obscure intellectual debates don’t count.

    Think and plan ahead, the questions are framed politically to get a certain response, and it is obvious that they will achievetheir objective – so why sink a whole lot of time and money into a “yes vote” campaign?

    We need to force these people to debate the issues, we have the upper hand, the law is working.

    The Yes vote campaign will make the Greens look like extremists becouse the obvious answer is No. That is how the question is framed.

    Work smarter not harder

  45. “Calling his opinion “twaddle” is tantamount to deriding almost half of NZ family law since its inception in the mid 1800s.”

    I have no problem with the notion that at least half of what lawyers do is twaddle.
    I think parents are better able to decide whats best for their kids than a bloddy crown lawyer!
    Are you a law student Michaela?

  46. “Furthermore the only advocacy that I made was that those wishing to reinstate Section 59 be intellectually honest and acknowledge the source of their position”

    Right back at ya.
    All I want, is for the people behind these laws to be intelectually honest enough to admit that this whole deal is about advancing a particular ideology or doctrine on the rest of us.
    This issue has more to do with passavist idealistic rubbish than reality.
    The proponents of these laws seem to think that they, and they alone, are more enlightened than the rest of us, and we all should just submit for our own good.
    The problem is, these ideals are all theory, and even then not all that new.
    People are screeming out with solid evidence that these reforms do not, and will not work, yet people hang on to them as if blinded by their own perceived brilliance.
    No one has yet offered an explaination to the Otago multi diciplinery study that shows a strong link that light smacking is beneficial to a child, this is the most comprehensive study of human behavior EVER undertaken.
    And spouting off some left leaning professor “on the payroll” is not evidence, it is propaganda.

  47. Valis,

    – “all were smacked when very young. I do not remember a time when this was necessary for correction. I remember many times when it was just my own frustration and lack of control. No, I don’t think they were harmed, nor should I have been criminalised for my actions. Nor would I have been under the current law, which allows the police discretion when the action is not significant.”

    Why would the police use their discretion in your favour in your own example? You would have a criminal record by now, which would follow you for the rest of your life and, for example, affect your employment prospects and prevent you from working with children or being able to emigrate to another country.

    You don’t seem to think of yourself as a monster, and I don’t think you are; which is why I oppose legislation like this which criminalises such minor incidents and damages family cohesion. The very existence of such legislation creates a moral hazard; when parents have the right to use corporal punishment they often have no cause to use it, but remove that sanction and you can significantly alter children’s attitudes and behaviour. You don’t help children with these laws.

  48. Commentators have missed my main point: that the opposing parties are arguing from two distinct traditions: property rights and parens patriae. Furthermore the only advocacy that I made was that those wishing to reinstate Section 59 be intellectually honest and acknowledge the source of their position, and also seek to overturn the parens patriae jurisdiction in NZ.

    Those who would enjoy the fruits of a tradition must of necessity either accept the tradition itself or demonstrate that their enjoyment derives from an entirely different tradition. Claiming that the parent is better able to determine how to raise a child than the State is an assertion of property rights over the child, an assertion derived from slavery; hence closet slavery. I gave several citations to demonstrate this and it is incumbent upon those who would claim otherwise to provide evidence to the contrary. Two of my citations (Hobbes and Jefferson) were important figures in the history of Liberal Economic thought, Jefferson was in fact a slave owner. I would have thought that BP and others of his mien would be delighted to be categorised with such luminaries.

    Justice Inglis, whom I cited on parental rights is currently the most respected authority on NZ family law. Calling his opinion “twaddle” is tantamount to deriding almost half of NZ family law since its inception in the mid 1800s.

  49. >>and trust the police to make the right choices

    Yet the very same Police can’t be trusted with Tazers….

    If I must err on the side of the two, I will not hand more control to people, like say CYFS workers or Sue wanna-bes, who may have limited intellect, and might be fanatic loons. Nor will I contribute to the growing pool of badly behaved children who understand rights, but not responsibilities and consequences.

    Science is on our side.

  50. >>When asked if flying to Spain was as bad as knifing a person in the street, Ms Lucas said: ‘Yes – because they are dying from climate change.’”

    Of course there are least a couple of differences between someone being knifed and someone presumably dying due to the effects of climate change. The onus of proof is greater for the climate change charge than for the knifing. Also the former is a prime candidate for intentional harm whereas the latter usually hides behind the cloak of respectable business and at worst is regarded as ‘collateral damage’. However, there is a much greater potential for climate change to have far reaching deleterious effects on human life than the odd knifing incident.

    Whilst a fervent believer in the grave dangers of climate change may well sympathise with the apparent non sequitur uttered by the Green MP, critical reasoning omissions are evident nevertheless.

  51. Great wat, so we’ve established that there is some level of state intervention you’re happy with. Your original statement was not qualified in any way and I don’t always know how far your libertarian absurdities will take you.

    I have three teenagers. All were smacked when very young. I do not remember a time when this was necessary for correction. I remember many times when it was just my own frustration and lack of control. No, I don’t think they were harmed, nor should I have been criminalised for my actions. Nor would I have been under the current law, which allows the police discretion when the action is not significant.

    The crux of the issue for me is this. The relationship between a parent and child is about the closest we have and must be respected. At the same time, there are times when the state must be able to intervene. There is simply no way to make this decision an easy one. There is no way a perfect law can be written. Society will err on one side or the other, allowing the potential for too much intervention or for too little. The only thing we can do is decide a suitable place to draw the line and then give those making the crucial decision on the spot the ability to use their judgment. You can draw the line to err on the side of a parent’s rights, or on the side of the child’s safety. If I must err, I choose to favour the more vulnerable of the two, the child, and trust the police to make the right choices.

  52. Valis,

    – “So wat, no state intervention at all between a parent and child? Not even if BP’s spade is involved?”

    Are you really so obtuse that you cannot discern a difference between corporal punishment administered by a parent for the child’s own benefit, and an assault with a spade?

    Really?

    Wow.

    I urge you never to have children of your own: rather than smacking the back of their hand after they just ran out into some traffic you might equally hospitalise them with a piece of wood with a nail through it.

    How many supporters of the ban themselves as a child received a slap on the back of the leg on the odd occasion? Do they really believe that they were actually assaulted? That their mother is a child abusing criminal who should be imprisoned?

    Sad, but this is just another example of the extreme Green intolerance and fanaticism revealed by their bigoted rhetoric. A coulpe more examples:

    Homeowners who do not take action to improve the energy efficiency of their properties should be treated as criminals, one of the country’s most influential environmentalists said last night…

    http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/latestnews/Make-fuel-waste-an-offence.5166566.jp

    A leading politician has sparked outrage by comparing people who fly to Spain on holiday with knife-wielding criminals. Caroline Lucas, the leader of the Green Party…When asked if flying to Spain was as bad as knifing a person in the street, Ms Lucas said: ‘Yes – because they are dying from climate change.’

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/article-1169862/Air-travel-bad-stabbing-person-street-says-MEP.html

  53. What should the question have been?
    Remember, the law had already been passed so public “debate” was quelched, so the only thing citizens can do is try to force a referendum.
    What should the question be?

  54. Shunda – if you look at the parliamentary vote, I think you will see that this was not a case of a minority party pushing anything, and certainly not an extreme view.

    As michaela said, this is just cleaning up existing law to match the intent of existing law. As for the referendum, it is a waste of money because it asks the wrong question, not because it isn’t a welcome debate.

    I say bring it on! this is a debate that our society should be having. Pity the poor buggers who wrote the question weren’t interested in a real debate, just the usual ideological drivel.

  55. This from the “yes vote” site:

    ““How is it that an estimated $10 million of government funds will be spent on a one-off referendum asking a question that is badly drafted and heavily weighted towards a particular answer?”

    Because 300 000 kiwi’s asked for $33.00 of THEIR tax be spent on it, thats how,
    Its called democracy.
    The real question is how can a minority party push an extreme ideological position on an entire population, using child abuse as an excuse?
    remember, only a handfull of people ever even used S59 as a defence, so this ecercise is a catastrophic waste of everybodies money.
    If this is repealed the green party should get the bill.

  56. “It should be obvious that parental “rights” are actually privileges granted to allow them to fullfill their responsibilities properly; privileges can be revoked at any time.”

    This really is deluded stuff, hardly worth a response actually.
    The only thing that following this bizarre experimental left wing ideology will do, is weaken the authority of the parents that are doing the best job raising the next generation.

  57. >>Advocates for reinstating section 59 are clearly closet slavers

    That’s going to help people come around to your side. About as effective as Bradford calling it a “a “whackers’ charter”

    How to win friends and influence people etc….

  58. >>This whole S59 thing has actually empowered all the wrong types of people and is probably ultimately going to lead to more violence

    No probably about it.

    “A 519% increase by minors under 15; a 231% increase by 15- to 19-year-olds; 133% by 20- to 24-year-olds; 53% by 25- to 29-year-olds; 122% by 30- to 39-year-olds; 147% by 40- to 49-year-olds; and 128% by perpetrators over 49 (Wittrock, 1995). The largest increases were for perpetrators who went through the preschool years after the spanking ban”

  59. “Looking at comments on this and earlier posts and blogs, those wanting to reinstate section 59 are basically advocating for parental property rights over children”

    What a load of twaddle, I don’t want to go to court for occasionally smacking my kids, big difference from owning a human being or being a “slaver” as you so eloquently put it.
    You sound like the radical, not me.
    The laws and reforms that the greens a putting forward basicaly amount to the state “owning” children, is that what you are advocating? that we are all slaves to the state? Father Marx would be very proud!!

  60. “Advocates for reinstating section 59 are clearly closet slavers”

    – that is like the trolls calling the greens communists. they are simply passionate that their form of parenting is the right one.

  61. In an earlier thread I asked “how the situations using the defences of “provocation” and “reasonable force” differed in principle”. It is an important question because it holds the key to why the two sides in this debate continually talk past one another and get lost in irrelevancies and side issues. Unfortunately the only response began a series of juvenile male chauvinistic comments, so, sadly, I’ll have to answer the question myself.

    Looking at comments on this and earlier posts and blogs, those wanting to reinstate section 59 are basically advocating for parental property rights over children; e.g. “mind your own business”; Nanny state; government interference, parents know best etc. On the other hand repealers advocated for a redefinition in delegated parental responsibilities towards imature citizens in their charge. These are two distinct frames of reference and it’s worth examining them more deeply.

    Children as property is a hangover from the institution of slavery, and may well be it’s precursor.

    (Aristotle.) “The justice of a master or father is a different thing from that of a citizen, for a son or a slave is property and there can be no injustice to one’s own property”.

    In Roman times the patrias protestas gave the paterfamilias absolute authority over his children and grandchildren. By law he could expose them, sell them, kill them and control any property that they acquired.

    (Thomas Hobbes) “Children therefore, whether they be brought up and preserved by the father, or by the mother, or by whom-soever, are in most absolute subjection to him or her, that so bringeth them up, or preserveth them. And they may alienate them, that is, assign his or her dominion, by selling, or giving them, in adoption or servitude to others; or may pawn them for hostages, kill them for rebellion, or sacrifice them for peace, by the law of nature, when he or she, in his or her conscience, think it to be necessary.”

    (Thomas Jefferson) “ … a man’s wife, children and indentured servants are his property”.

    In nineteenth century England children as young as five could be used for gleaning in mines and cotton mills. However, a parent’s ability to sell a child into indentured servitude or use it as collateral in commercial dealings has long been revoked, as has the employment of children in coal mines and cotton mills. The repeal of section 59 is merely the latest in a long series of modifications to parental privileges.

    Those supporting the repeal of Section 59 are coming from an entirely different jurisdiction, that of “Parens Patriae”, which was developed in English case law and finally enacted as statutory law by James I. Initially applying to imbeciles and the deranged it was steadily extended to include children and the infirm. In most jurisdictions it appears in the principle that makes the protection of the best interests of any child the first and single most important concern of the courts. By the early twentieth century it allowed for the compulsory primary education of children and regulated the amount and type of work that they could engage in. The parens patriae jurisdiction is the core principle underlying NZ family law.

    In NZ, according to Justice Inglis, the State has always reserved to itself the sole right to the disposition of children’s welfare. The following quotes come from Inglis, B.D. (2007). New Zealand Family law in the 21st Century. Brookers: Wellington NZ.

    “The parens patriae jurisdiction is a jurisdiction of unlimited width. Historically the parens patriae jurisdiction evolved from the ancient royal duty of the Sovereign’s prerogative as parens patriae (parent of the nation) to protect the naturally vulnerable. From earliest times it was regarded as axiomatic that infants or minors, being legally incapable of looking after themselves were under the special protection of the Sovereign. It is this jurisdiction that underlies NZ family Law.“ [p228 edited and abridged].

    “…the “rights” of parents as guardians are to be understood as responsibilities that they are obliged to exercise in terms of the welfare principle, with the welfare of the child as their first and paramount consideration….” [p263].

    “In other respects the legal rights of a guardian in respect of a child are essentially to be seen as rights against others…… In relation to the child, however, such guardianship “rights” are to be seen as guardianship responsibilities, to be exercised in the child’s best welfare and interests.” [p322].

    It should be obvious that parental “rights” are actually privileges granted to allow them to fullfill their responsibilities properly; privileges can be revoked at any time.

    Advocates for reinstating section 59 are clearly closet slavers and their cause would be better served by openly supporting the reintroduction of slavery and seeking the overturning of the parens patriae principle. I will add that I have no problems with slavery, provided that I am the owner. And since I’m no longer able to enslave with my charms I’d happily settle for using my money.

  62. I think the logical answer to this question is No, and opposing this question leads to a polarising and divisive path, since it puts us in a position of crimilising parents for smacking. An alternative stance is that we answer No, and highlight the the law change was necessary since the former clause allowing “reasonable force” had been too far enlarged through legal precedence.

    This way we can debate the issues rather than being locked into a polarised position – which as I see it this question may be designed to do. Don’t fall into the trap!

    So what if the majority of NZers agree with this question, it doesnt even address the intent of the S59 bill, and is therefore misleading, this should be the focus of the campaign to keep the amendment. Perhaps some alternative questions should be suggested to included in the referendum.

    This issue is highly controversial and has already caused enough damage, lets try to negotiate a bit of common ground.

    Think about decriminalising cannabis, and follow the same logic – cannabis is criminalised because society sees it as leading to worse harm, and many people who have no intention of getting into harder drugs are criminalised because of a draconian law. additionally this law doesn’t even for its own logic objecctivley, I tried alcohol and tobacco well before I tried pot, and alcohol and tobacco lead to much more social harm.

    Follow some logic – the law is not criminalising smacking, if it does then we will need to chabge that, not everyone is ready to give up on using smacking, and they shouldn’t be crimilised for it either. However we also know that if you try and define “reasonable force” ar what ever term that will be enlarged.

    If everone just eases up a bit and looks at the situation clearly we might make a bit of sense, rather than feeding sensationalists.

  63. I have a great example of the bulls@#t behind this law.
    Recently my son was at a point that he didn’t want to go to school anymore and was showing some fairly concerning emotional distress.
    He was being bullied and assaulted by bigger kids at school. I had the final straw when one of the bully’s parents pulled up beside my boy when he was walking home and started calling him a loser (he was 6 years old at the time) he came home in such distress that I went to the school fairly wild and wanted some answers.
    After talking to his teacher and the principle I agreed to having the school social worker speak to him at school and to meet my wife and I at home.
    While at my home with my boy present the social worker asked him what happens when he is naughty, he responded that it was none of her business! and said “don’t tell her mum” my wife said that we smack the kids ocasionally, the social worker said “I will pretend I didn’t hear that, and I won’t write it down”. What a bloddy cheek!!
    After a few weeks my boy said he didn’t want to meet with the social worker any more at school because “she keeps asking me about being smacked and I don’t like it”
    So it turns out that if you children are being bullied at school, the parents of the victim will be grilled by the S59 police while the bully boys go scott free.
    The bullying has since escalated, he had a black eye the other day after being assaulted with a skate board.
    My advice to everyone with kids is:
    DO NOT INVOLVE SOCIAL WORKERS FOR ANY REASON.
    We have no idea what information has been recorded about our “parenting performance” and wish we never got involved at all in the state system.
    This whole S59 thing has actually empowered all the wrong types of people and is probably ultimately going to lead to more violence.
    and

  64. I’m more interested in what happens to parents (and others) who get hauled before a court for an offense. If the first offense “punishment” involved no conviction and a decisive parenting course, then I suspect far fewer people would object. Second offense… well… smack them! With a spade?

  65. Firstly – only people who ARE parents should be allowed to vote.

    And I will ceratinly be voting No.

    And Ill be putting explanatory notes in every letter box up my street and I will be taking every opportunity at school to make sure all parents arent brainwashed into making themselves criminals.

  66. >>I would stop assault against adults, animals and any other sentient being

    Best not raise your voice (mental abuse), send them to their room (incarceration against their will), or send them to the naughty chair (psychological torture).

    Because without subjectivity (common sense), there is no difference between those extremes.

  67. Ah yes, the state and its adjuncts know better than parents themselves how to raise children.

    So wat, no state intervention at all between a parent and child? Not even if BP’s spade is involved?

  68. Corporal Punishment = Assault, by any definition. One has simply to rid the subjective from the equation.
    For that matter – I would stop assault against adults, animals and any other sentient being, and those life forms whose protection and and heritage has fallen into our hands, and, hopefully care.
    With the exception of a few people I don’t like much.

  69. >>there is a clear line between the two

    There *is* a clear line between the two.

    You can test it for yourself. Have someone lightly slap you on your padded behind, then have someone whack you in the face with a spade.

    Notice the difference?

  70. Pattrick Smellie , eh.

    >>A ‘yes’ vote is a vote to protect children from assault

    We look forward to politicians actually addressing that issue, rather than forcing their unscientific, personal child-raising agendas down everyone’s throats.

  71. Valis,

    Ah yes, the state and its adjuncts know better than parents themselves how to raise children.

    Mark,

    – “Anyone who can assault a child belongs behind bars.”

    Agreed. But we’re talking about corporal punishment here, not assault.

  72. You deliberately pretend that there is a clear line between the two that “normal” people have no problem discerning. Those that work at the coal face like Plunket, Barnardos, Save the Children, etc, know that this line gets crossed all the time. I guess they’re not normal in your view, but their opinion in much more informed.

  73. You deliberately conflate smacking and assault.

    Normal people know there is all the difference in the world.

Comments are closed.