Tuesday, March 27, 2007

"I challenge anyone to find a case where section 59 has excused a real bashing that left a child injured."

As anyone with a brain knows, parents who do beat their children aren't going to listen to Bradford's anti-smacking law change any more than they listen to the laws that already make beating illegal. As lawyer Michelle Wilkinson-Smith says in today's Herald,
I say the repeal of section 59 is unnecessary because in my experience it is just that - unnecessary. I never lost a case which I prosecuted on the basis of section 59... Of course there will be the occasional case where section 59 has excused parents who overstepped the mark, but these are not cases where a child has been thrashed or beaten or injured. I challenge anyone to find a case where section 59 has excused a real bashing that left a child injured.
Wilkinson-Smith points out that Bradford's Bill will affect those in custody disputes and divorce battles and those against whom someone else bears a grudge -- those who are the least powerful, and those whom Bradford claims to represent -- and it ironically grants power to those she trusts the least:
Sue Bradford doesn't trust the New Zealand public so I find it amazing that she has so much faith in both the police and the justice system. She is proposing to give a huge amount of discretion to individual police officers... Most police are honest and upstanding and we are lucky to have them. Some are not. Some get caught up in a "means to an end" approach to criminal law. Some will use this legislation - and the discretion it gives them - for the wrong purpose. It won't be me or people like me who suffer this. It will be the very people Sue Bradford has fought for in so many other ways.
There is already sufficient law on the books to prosecute your child beaters, and you all know that.

This is not about smacking. It is not about stopping child beaters, since
parents who do beat their children aren't going to listen to Bradford's law change any more than they listen to the laws that already make beating illegal. My opposition, and that of principled opponents to this Bill, is to the Nannying intrusion into New Zealand families; to the increased role of the state as parent, and a decreasing role for parents as parents.

Tomorrow, marchers on Parliament will have a chance to make their opposition known to those within -- to those wavering Labour MPs in marginal seats, to the Maori Party MPs who are hearing from their constituents opposed to the Bill, to the NZ First MPs threatened with demotion, to the whole damned Parliament who need to realise that nearly three-quarters of New Zealanders want Nanny to butt out.

Tomorrow's march starts at noon from the Civic Square -- and note that there will be a counter-protest at the same place and same time --
and at least five speakers when the march reaches Parliament's steps: Bob McCoskrie, Heather Roy, Larry Baldock, Christine Rankin and Lindsay Perigo (though not the first Perigo to have their say on this issue -- see Update 3 here). A few other MP's have also been invited. Please feel free to emphasise this request by e-mailing/calling them yourself.

UPDATE: I'll remind you of Luke's recent post where he covers one of the "prime examples" often raised in response to this challenge:

One of the prime examples is a Christian woman who punished her son with a ‘horse whip’. That’s the version we hear on the radio. But if we look a little closer, the ‘whip’ was actually a short riding crop, and the boy had attempted to smash his stepfather in the head with a baseball bat. This was not child abuse, it was sorely needed corrective discipline. In fact, the incident with the ‘whip’ was discovered after the school asked about the improvement in the boy’s behaviour!

So this wasn’t a failure of Section 59. It was a triumph of, firstly, parental discipline, and secondly, the New Zealand justice system, which managed, as usual, to find the correct verdict based on the evidence. The reality is the complete opposite of the political spin...
As I've said before, if you need to spin to make your point, it suggests you don't have a real, credible argument to make.

RELATED: Smacking, NZ Politics

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21 Comments:

Anonymous hemi said...

The Barnadoes NZ submission supporting the repeal listed several cases of abuse that weren't prosecuted because of S59...

"Father acquitted in pipe beating"
Reported: New Zealand Herald 3/11/01
He admitted hitting the girl with a length of pipe after she interrupted and swore at him on May 5, but said parents had the right to discipline their children. Police photos taken the next day showed a raised 15cm lump with red edges on the girl's back. The jury took one hour to reach its verdict. The acquittal came under section 59 of the Crimes Act, which gives parents the right to use force to correct children if it is "reasonable under the circumstances".

"Smacking father discharged"
Reported: The Dominion 22/02/2001
A jury in Napier District Court acquitted a man who struck his son several times on the buttocks with a piece of wood. A pediatrician stated that the injuries the boy received must have been caused by "considerable force".

"Smacking laws stay unchanged for now"
Reported: The Dominion 21/12/2001
This article refers to the above cases in Hamilton and Napier and also refers to a case heard in the Christchurch District Court, where the judge, Judge Graeme Noble, acquitted a man for hitting his daughter with a doubled over belt, finding that the man used reasonable force.

Jury clears mother over 'six of the best'
Reported from the NZ Herald, 27 May 2005
A mother who admitted hitting her son with a horse whip and a bamboo cane based on her Christian beliefs has been found not guilty of assaulting the boy. The 39-year-old, who received final name suppression, was on trial in the Timaru District Court before a jury on two charges of assaulting her son, then aged under 14.

3/27/2007 12:42:00 pm  
Anonymous Falafulu Fisi said...

Hemi,

Did you read and stop to thing what the author (Michelle) was saying:

Of course there will be the occasional case where section 59 has excused parents who overstepped the mark, but these are not cases where a child has been thrashed or beaten or injured.

And since for over 30 years that S59 had been around, you quoted ONLY 4! These are the occasional cases that the author quoted very clearly for you to read. For fucksake, how many cases of abuse related to children in that period? Lets assume that there had been 3000. This translated to (4/3000*100%), which is roughly 0.13% . Is this serious? NO, not at all.

Finally, have you tracked these 4 children to find out how they're turning out to be these days? Had any of them committed a murder or rape?

3/27/2007 01:16:00 pm  
Anonymous Falafulu Fisi said...

Correction from my post above:

Hemi,
Did you read and stop to think what the author.

3/27/2007 01:18:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's not about smacking - you got that right.

As Tony Milne says, the opponents are the same fundy crowd that opposed civil unions and prostitution law reform. If you belive in the black helicopter theory then Bradford isn't the only one with an agenda.

I am involved with Barnadoes and confirm that anyone who works at the coalface in social services supports Bradford's bill.

Children should never be smacked, hit, whatever you want to call it. If you cannot teach, guide and discipline your child without resorting to hitting or other acts of violence, you are not fit to be a parent.

Any form of corporal punishment toward those that cannot defend themselves is barbaric.

If it takes the threat of prosecution to make parents and caregivers think twice about raising their hand to a child of adolescent, so be it.

3/27/2007 01:51:00 pm  
Anonymous Kane Bunce said...

My mother used corrective discipling on my (though only in rare cases as it was rarely needed) and I turned out OK. And I have nothing but respect for her for it. I know it helped me to become the well balanced person that I am today. I know it helped keep me on the right track.

Besides what are we supposed to do if it is a matter of self-defence or defence of another innocent? Not smack the child because of some stupid law? That in itself is stupid. It is rightly legal for us to use force in self-defence or defence of another innocent, so why not when it is a child?

Furthermore, if a child uses force on another, then smacking is the most appropriate punishment as it teaches the child an important and valuable lesson, i.e., that force will be used on you if you use it on others.

Hemi, what needs to be done is not to ban smacking, but rather to objectively define what "reasonable" force is. The same needs to be done with the section of the Bill of Rights that allows "reasonable" force to be used as self-defence. If that happens no such cases as you listed will be able to happen. With objective law would allow such things.

Falafulu Fisi, you have made very good points as usual.

3/27/2007 02:38:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Furthermore, if a child uses force on another, then smacking is the most appropriate punishment as it teaches the child an important and valuable lesson, i.e., that force will be used on you if you use it on others."

Exactly Kane - that is what corporal punishment teaches kids - that you use force to get results.

You are an admirer of Rand, right? Then you know that discipline is the use of the MIND - not brute force. Disciple means student. When we tell our children to use their brains to solve problems and then smack them when they do something that displeases us, what message does that send?

I do not know how anyone - let alone someone with an interest in educating children- can support a parent using a 'horse-whip' (or riding crop- a small technicality) on their child. The boy in question had been subjected to corporal punishment on a regular basis, so it was no surprise he lashed out at his stepfather violently.

Times change you know - in Rome you were allowed to kill your kid and the law had nothing to say about it.

Let's love our children rather than hurt them.

3/27/2007 03:20:00 pm  
Anonymous hemi said...

FF - the challenge was to...

"...find a case where section 59 has excused a real bashing that left a child injured"

...and I quoted some cases from the Barnadoes submission where children were injured.

Your objections on the basis of the number of examples I picked and the subsequent behaviour of the victims are irrelevant. Or do you not think the injuries were severe enough to qualify?

3/27/2007 04:21:00 pm  
Anonymous Kane Bunce said...

Anon, Rand teaches that when someone initiates force on you the only moral response is to retaliate with force, so your using Rand in your argument is flawed. And that is exactly what I will teach my children if I have any.

Besides some kids only respond to smacks. What is one to do then? Not discipline them at all?

"Let's love our children rather than hurt them."
So being a hippy and letting out kids get away with assault is loving them? No, sorry but that is incorrect.

3/27/2007 05:39:00 pm  
Anonymous Kane Bunce said...

Correction: taught. She is dead so she teaches nothing. She taught not teaches.

3/27/2007 05:40:00 pm  
Anonymous jim said...

Let's love our children rather than hurt them.

Ruth, how about you love your own children, hey? Don't offer to love other people's children, because it is none of your fuck'n business. If you want to love other people's children, then fine, announce yourself to the whole country, that you want to look after all children when their parents go to work. Parents will drop them of at your house, you nanny the children till they get pick up at 5 o'clock everyday. Your nanny service is of course free, since you love the country's children. Can you do this? Please let me know, I am keen to get a free day-time nanny.

3/27/2007 05:41:00 pm  
Blogger mojo said...

"I am involved with Barnadoes and confirm that anyone who works at the coalface in social services supports Bradford's bill."
Indeed this is probably a correct statement from those insufficiently skilled at implementing child management programmes within the family.
As a generalisation it is simply incorrect.
I'm afraid that such a statement can only be seen as a reflection on Barnadoes itself and they certainly will no longer be receiving any financial or other support from myself.

3/27/2007 07:23:00 pm  
Anonymous Stu said...

To those who are against this reform:
Why is it ok to take a belt or piece of wood to your child but not to your wife?

I really can't understand why people are up in arms about this? Of course the police are not going to prosecute someone who grabs their child and gives them a stern talking too, or picks them up and carries them to a room for time out. The reform is an effort to remove the undefinable nature of "reasonable force".

Twenty years ago we were all smoking in offices. 100 years ago women were second class citizens. You all call ourselves libertarians... well stop supporting fascist conservatives. Just look at the groups opposing this reform. They generally all make me sick.

3/27/2007 08:05:00 pm  
Blogger mojo said...

Stu, the answer is that it is not a matter of,"Why is it ok to take a belt or piece of wood ..." coz it's not.
This is simply excess & emotive crap to try & support your argument. The repeal removes reasonable force, an oft. jury defined criteria, in the correction of child behaviour. It will remove time-out for correction as well & it will of course, as a consequence, get parents lying as to the role of their interventions - self protection demands this.
This repeal is a 'slap in the face' of our jury system, is intrusive in to family life, is extremely 'light' in respect to research base & must add to our increasing crop of unsocialised youngsters who constitute the oft reported increasing 'tail of failures' in our education system.
The inclination is to call you a 'sicko' stu, but probably just young & idealistic.

3/27/2007 08:41:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello this is a note to the ignmorant barnardoes worker. I work at the coalface with Plunket and I do not support the governments approach to the sectin 59 bill.

Just for the record.

3/27/2007 10:58:00 pm  
Blogger leelion said...

Anonymous above, are you the same Anonymous as the post above this one, (sort of further up - if you know what i mean), or are you another anonymous of another kind? perhaps shrouded in some kind of anonymity?

3/27/2007 11:46:00 pm  
Blogger libertyscott said...

"Any form of corporal punishment toward those that cannot defend themselves is barbaric."

It is wrong, but it is no more barbaric than shouting abuse at them, telling them they are useless, worthless and they aren't loved, and nobody wanted them anyway.

If you could pass a law to stop that, and it would work, and not create criminals of good people - you know I might just agree with it.

If the law acquits people in the cases that are quoted with the first comment, then there DOES need to be amendment - but it does not mean what is being proposed.

Smacking represents at best a failure to parent intelligently and creatively, at worst it is sadism.

3/28/2007 05:26:00 am  
Anonymous Stu said...

Mojo

I'm a sicko because I don't think father's should beat their children with a pipe, or a piece of wood? Do you think the police will bother charging someone who has picked their child up and carried them into their room for time out? If so, I feel sorry for you. You must be paranoid.

As for being idealistic... of course I am. What are, as a parent, you if you're not in some way? I'm also a realist and quite pragmatic. I know this one won't save the world's children but it's a pretty decent start.

Your response, itself, is rather 'light' and certainly emotive.

I'm tempted to call you a 'sicko' too but you're probably just old and full of 'common sense'.

Cheers
Stu
ps. pleased to see you're into single malt whisky, at least we could probably agree on something...

3/28/2007 01:39:00 pm  
Anonymous Robert Winefield said...

The answer is simple. Move to Australia or the USA if you want to have children without Sue Bradford and Helen Clark et al. telling you how to raise them.

Works for me. Yet another reason to never return to NZ.

3/28/2007 07:07:00 pm  
Anonymous Robert Winefield said...

Libertyscott opined:

'smacking = sadism'

And sadism is inflicting pain for sexual pleasure.

Right, gotcha. Every person who smacks is doing it for sexual pleasure, they just don't realize it.

I suppose the corollary of 'smackers are latent sadists' is that 'men are latent rapists.' And who said that again? Hmmm.. Why it was a lawyer for a previous Commissioner for Children!

Gee, it gives me warm fuzzies to know that people who think like this are making laws in NZ.

I can't wait to see what the Constable Rickards in the NZ Police force will do with their discretionary powers under this new law. Submit to a private 'Team Policing' exercise or have your child taken away...

This won't gum up the wheels of justice at all. I'm sure there'll be plenty of time to catch rapists and actual child molesters, thieves and home invaders while the police investigate the circumstances behind every red bottom in the country.

Gosh, thanks Sue & Helen. I feel sooo much safer.

3/29/2007 02:45:00 am  
Anonymous Stu said...

LibertyScott actually said:
Smacking represents at best a failure to parent intelligently and creatively, at worst it is sadism.

This is far from 'smacking = sadism'.

Are you a jornalist Robert? ;-)

All this talk of smacking has made me thirsty. I might have to have a Hopsmacker.

3/29/2007 09:25:00 am  
Blogger libertyscott said...

"Libertyscott opined:

'smacking = sadism'

And sadism is inflicting pain for sexual pleasure."

Oh FFS Robert, join the PM's Office, I never fucking said that. Open your eyes, I said it was at best a failure of parenting, at worst sadism. The rhetoric from some in the Christian fundamentalist movement glorify smacking as "essential", I find that sick.

It is an option, I believe it is a bad option based on my experience. I DON'T support Sue Bradford's bill because I don't want to criminalise parents for using a bad option.

It is the same argument that libertarians use regarding racist speech. People who publish racist literature are brainless morons, but damnit they have the right to do that and shouldn't be criminalise for expressing their point of view.

Separate the concept from the response of the state to the concept, don't lazily misrepresent what i said please.

3/29/2007 09:35:00 am  

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