The smacking lobby ignores 8 positive reviews of S59

After the latest report on Section 59 from the Prime Minister’s taskforce you would think that the media would stop calling the circus performers whose only interest is in keeping the circus going.

The review included Dr Nigel Latta – someone who had voted against the law in the recent referendum. However, to his credit Dr Latta – a clinical psychologist – has pointed out that fears whipped up by ex-politicians committed to frenzy not facts are actually unfounded. Funny that.

It was difficult listening to Bob McCroskrie this morning on morning report, complaining about 8 separate reviews all of which have shown the law to work as it was intended. Many of those 8 reviews were established to precisely to answer the questions that Bob and his organisation keep asking. Problem is they don’t like the answers and keep on demanding more and more, wasting time and money that is better spent on supporting families.

What our law has done is to help to keep kids safe and the Police and child protection agencies have been using the law as intended. It is what Sue Bradford has said over and over.

The media need to look at the mountain of evidence from a variety of reports out now on the Section 59 amendment and be extremely cautious when dealing with financially powerful reactionary forces that think it’s OK to hit Kids.

It ain’t.

23 Comments Posted

  1. The New Zealand Ministry of Education and the Werry Centre are currently putting in place a child behaviour management training program called The Incredible Years at a cost of $45 million. The guru for the program is American. The trouble is that her ideas are now 20 years old and no one in North America is buying it anymore. So she has gone outside North America to sell it. On the other hand, mental health professionals, education boards and parents in Canada and the US are flocking to seminars by and learning the best approach which is detailed at (Massachusetts General Hospital)and (Dr Ross Greene, PhD, Harvard).

    Anyone care to investigate the validity of my claim regarding this monumental mistake?

  2. I think this law is great. It protects the most defenseless sector of our society. I remember being feeling physical pain and being fearful and yes controlled out of fear, not respect, below the age of 10 both at home with the cane and at school with the strap in the 50’s&60’s.

    I never brought my children up with such control methods and they are fine, well adjusted adults. Thanks to Sue Bradford and the Greens for proposing this and seeing it through to law.

  3. E-Prophet,

    I do not remember reading any mention of an explicitly suicidal boy?

    The law against violence to children is bad, as is the law against violence to adults. The law against violence to adults is incredibly wide spanning and the complications tend to be sorted by people not bothering to take it to the cops, the cops laughing you out of the station, or being laughed out of the court room. The law against violence against children is very limited. It removes what is a legitmate and effective tool for child rearing in an attempt, apparently, to remove child abuse that has nothing to do with smacking in the first place and everything to do with people whom are in the first instance screwed in the head and in the second instance unlikely to care what the law says as they already violate it several times a day.
    The law does nothing to protect children and will do everything to make the life of educators, employers, etc. more difficult as children become even more used to the thought that they are invincible.

    OMG, I just discovered Bradfords real motivation! It has nothing to do with child abuse (though we all knew that) and little to do with an ideological bent against smacking. It is all about raising a generation that does not know that actions have consequences! She wants to build a set of militant and naive Bradford brigades which will follow her every ideotic, ideological, ejaculation!

  4. Yes Sapient, “Mixed classes are politically correct bull; even able minded students of different capacities should be streamed as much as is practical.” The suicidal boy benefited from being in one English class because he could keep up with the rest in the class. Not all Mainstreaming is wrong educationally, but much is in my experience.

    Greenfly, drawing the line can be done by simply checking if the student is achieving progress in the class and not falling further behind. For educational progress to happen the student needs to be challenged but not beyond their ability. This is acknowledged by many educationalists. Most of the violence from Special Needs children I experienced, and observed, was caused by their inability to cope with the situations they were put into in the name of Mainstreaming. Thanks for the sympathy, Greenfly, but I am surprised that you accept things like “being barricaded behind a closed glass door, while a rampaging student attacked from the other side with a pair of scissors,” and then say “that preparation is the most effective protection against trouble.” Surely the trouble could be avoided by a much more sensible application of Mainstreaming. Special Needs Assistants did not have power over this in the school I was at.

    Pentwig. If it is a bad law this means the law against violence to adults is bad too.

  5. it was useless taking the Special Needs child into the class.

    Well in all truth it is near useless to do so in the first place anyway. It is not cost effective and it results in poorer educational outcomes for both the special needs children and the other children in the class. Theres just a redundant little feel good factor about it. Mixed classes are politically correct bull; even able minded students of different capacities should be streamed as much as is practical.

  6. E prophet – on the contrary, I have worked with mainstreamed Special Needs children for years and some of that time at Secondary schools. The most recent ‘incident’ I was involved in had most of the students and me, barricaded behind a closed glass door, while a rampaging student attacked from the other side with a pair of scissors, but was fortunately unable to get through the wired glass (which didn’t keep it’s integrity btw).
    I’ve also fallen foul of the ‘mustn’t manhandle crazed students’ biz as well, so I’m sympathetic to your story. It seems to me a game that can’t be won entirely as there will always be ‘off-the-wall’ incidents that weren’t foreseen, but I stick with my original suggestion; that preparation is the most effective protection against trouble. However, when it does come, good luck to us all.

  7. Greenfly, obviously you have never been a Special Needs Assistant in a Secondary School.
    The equipment was a Communicator for the mainstreamed child. I caught it with one hand and pushed the boy, who was swinging his arms about whilst standing up, back into his seat saying, “Sit”. So “don’t bring out the expensive equipment” would mean it was useless taking the Special Needs child into the class.
    Yes Samiam the Principal and the head of Special Needs were most unhelpful, probably because they found it all too difficult to deal with because of lack of training in how to resolve problems without violence.
    I was allowed to physically restrain Special Needs children when they became violent but not others in the classroom. The disruptive boy had special needs of his own but was not classified as Special Needs. I was glad to lose that job, because of restructuring, as I found my role was to like a prison warden when I had to take Special Needs boys into classes that where they could not cope with the situation. The system did not officially allow me to play “a game of cunning and strategy”. I did my best use subterfuge. I consider there was (and still is) psychological violence done to Special Needs children in the name of Mainstreaming. I even had to deal with a boy who was suicidal because he knew he was not achieving anywhere near the level required in Technology. Fortunately the school counsellor took action when I went directly to him.

  8. True greenfly, but when the throwing is already underway, then you stop the kid… by…. stopping the kid. It’s not a punishment, just stopping the destruction. Playing to win happens later.
    The point I’m making is that the principal is not being helpful here.

  9. E-prof and samiam – difficult situations call for cunning manouvers, not physical force. Hide the throwable stuff and don’t bring out the expensive equipment. Teachers (and Special Needs Assistants) are smarter than students. It’s a game of cunning and strategy. Play to win.

  10. E-prof, I hope you told that principal where to shove it. Physical restraint is entirely correct, giving him ‘the bash’ would be entirely incorrect.
    Your suggestion of guidelines to alternatives to smacking is valid. I’d see that extended to parents who fall foul of the new rules, at the lower end of the scale, avoiding any conviction/black mark if they attend a parenting course.

  11. Mark highlights the main problem with expecting a law to change social behaviour especially when most violence against children is behind closed doors.
    Lets stop wasting energy on arguing over the s59 law and find ways of funding better help and education for parents. Nigel Latta’s TV programme is a start.
    I would like to see Greens publicising alternatives to smacking as punishment perhaps even put out a pamphlet and support parenting courses.
    A problem I observe is many parents do not discipline their children and allow their children to be violent against themselves and others. These parents do not teach their children to respect others. This seems to me to be the result of not knowing alternatives to violent discipline methods; so they do nothing out of fear of getting it wrong.
    Also in schools the pendulum has swung so far against physical control that, when I was working as a Special Needs Assistant, I got into trouble for physically restraining a boy who knocked expensive equipment off a desk. The boy complained to the Principal and I was told I couldn’t touch boys who were not classified as Special Needs. When I asked if the School Counsellor the boy and I could get together and talk the matter through this was refused. From then on I had to put up with the boy and his cronies throwing things at me and swearing at me. The lack of knowledge of alternatives that work are a major reason for people to object to the s59 changes, it seems to me.

  12. In a former life, as a social worker, what stood out for me was that adults who were smacked as children had been profoundly taught that violence was and is a proper correct and reasonable option in dealing with issues.
    This is almost never true.
    It also makes for huge problems down the track as adults come to terms with their anger and frustrations in a world that only accepts violence in two ways – either by Government against adults, or by adults against children.
    A most hindering and unhelpfull emotional framework to deal successfully with Life.
    Fashionably called ‘core beliefs’ they become ingrained and hereditary.
    It serves us poorly.

  13. This is bad law. It works because we have police stepping up to do the job that Parliament failed to do. I won’t deny that it can and does work… but because it was and IS bad law we have a long list of consequences that have naught to do with it that we have to live with.

    Children are not “little adults”. They indeed have rights… and a change to S59 was necessary, but it is the job of parliamentarians to make explicit laws, that do NOT depend on divining the state of mind of the person who commits an act at the time of a purported offense.

    I point out that if it is NOT “for the purpose of correction” this law is indistinguishable from the previous version in permitting the use of cricket bats and horsewhips and tire-irons.

    I point out that in the absence of actual guidance from the law, the officer attending an incident might happen to agree with the “spare the rod and spoil the child” camp, and so even a severe beating might escape official sanctions.

    Bad Law. It may “work” but it does so through no virtue of its own.



  14. “one law for all”?

    Except it comes with a directive for police to ignore the one that applies to children.

    Then we get claims that proof it is working, is that nothing has changed.

    So it’s a claytons law – a law you have when some poeple want to feel good about something, but not actually do anything.

  15. adw: there is police discretion inherent in most ( but not all) of the criminal law unless the law is a strict liability offence. Such offences are often found in the Summary Offences Act and require the offender to prove some circumstance that excuses them from liability. Police have discretion over the use of the assault provisions in the Crimes Act – if you go out with them some night you will find them having to make their best judgement as to, for example, whether an incident justifies an arrest or not. It happens with speeding and other traffic offences all the time, the discretion is a necessary part of the effectiveness of law enforcement.

    So its silly to complain that this law, which remember removes the use of force for the purposes of correction as a defence against an assault charge, is enforced with the same element of discretion as most of the rest of the criminal code. Our change has moved the criminal law closer to the concept of “one law for all” as children now have the same legal protection as adults.

  16. I’m surprised the Greens are happy with a law that requires police interpretation – which laws should they be allowed to interpret next? One law for some and not others -this is not the way New Zealand should be going.

  17. The anti smaking law…actually a ‘Nationalization of children”law, to call it what it really is,is a bad law because its non objective…and therefore open to abuse at any tick of the clock.People are never sure when the law will desend upon them and in a so called civilised society thats obscene and a prelude to totalitarianism.

  18. The debate has moved on IMHO, this is no longer about the anti smacking bill, it is about democracy.

    The Socialist National party, Labour and the Greens have no respect for the people of NZ or democracy.

  19. And we hear that proof the new law is working is that it hasn’t changed anything at all for parents.

    So proof that it’s not making any difference is proof that it’s making a difference?

    And why has it made no difference? Because with the new law, comes a directive for police to ignore it.

    So we have a law that
    1/ changes nothing
    2/ criminialises most parents
    3/ comes with a dirrective for police to ignore it

    No wonder it is used as an example of what not to do when making new laws.

  20. What the law does is send a message that the state officially frowns on smacking.

    “It is what Sue Bradford has said over and over. ”

    what Sue bradford said was that we have a culture of violence and that was demonstrated by those who smack and that this attitude was to blame for child abuse.

    what (I heard said on) TV3 was “and Sue Bradford is the wrong person to sell it”.

    She also apologised for the Kahui whanau by blaming their behaviour on not being part of “the good side of life” (despite the group pulling in $1800/ week) etc

    so now children are “safe?”… and the mongrel mob has disbanded?

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