Smacking Children - Corporal Punishment - Proposed repeal of Section 59 of N Z Crimes Act - Debate by New Zealand Father's Groups           

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Many people do not agree with PANIC'S proposed petition to retain the right for parents to smack their children:

 

“I don't support this stance.  I don't think it would do the Fathering movement any good to get in behind this one.”

“I would like to state my opposition to any support for retaining the right to smack. Smacking teaches children that physical violence is ok and that it works to solve problems. It doesn't. It just makes the smacker/hitter feel better for a short moment. In all my work I have become clear that the fine line between what people call smacking and between hitting becomes very blurred and hard to control when you are in the height of anger. After the act the hitter moves to rationalise the act and does so even though they have their handprint glaring clearly from the side of a child's leg. We need to recall that the major hitters in the community are women caregivers. The hitting grows each time as the rationalisation takes away the guilt. We must stop our women beating/ hitting our children if we care about our kids and all learn to manage behaviour in a manner that we would want them to take to adulthood. Don't hit our kids they are too precious” 

“I’m with you 100%. I think we should go all the way on this issue and support the call to outlaw smacking all together.”

Some disagree but expressed concerns:

“I agree with the general sentiments, but would not be supportive of the fathers' movement jumping in head first. It would detract from our focus on parental rights and could reinforce the feminazi myth of fathers all being ‘abusers’.”

“I am wholly opposed to smacking/hitting/assaulting children.  I think there are always alternatives to 'physical discipline' many of which have the added advantage of being more effective in the long term. [However] I am also wary of state intervention in this area.  Child welfare agencies do not have a good record in regard to the ‘protection of children’. I cannot support state intervention because I do not trust the state to not abuse the power to intervene. At the same time, I will not support any initiative designed to ‘preserve the right of parents to physically discipline their children’.”

“There are 2 issues: 1) Are you against smacking? 2) If the answer to (1) is "Yes", is the best approach one of making it illegal? I think smacking is counter-productive and damages the parent-child relationship. If I understand them correctly, some those opposed to the legislation favour smacking, but others are thinking about the costs, difficulties and possible ineffectiveness and misuse of legislation. Are there other ways? Some talk of an educational approach, teaching alternatives to smacking....”

 

Others are supportive of PANIC’s stand:

“Appropriate discipline is a major part of Men-Toring / HandsOnFathering. We need to be boldly proud of our task, not PC.”

“In principle, I'm against yet further encroachment of the state into the upbringing of children. The participants [in this discussion], of all people, have reason to be very wary of governments telling parents how to bring up children. Is the damage done by smacking so great as to warrant giving away this discretionary area of parental discipline? If mothers do meter out the physicals to under 5s or 10s more than fathers, can we expect to see successful prosecutions of hassled, abused and deserted solo mothers of four? Unlikely, given they already get away with murder. So who is left for the law to act against? The segment that the proposals were always aimed at from the start....”

“Obviously, excessive force - let alone habitual brutality without any pretence at justice - must be deterred and punished where possible. But a reasonably considered smack is not at all like those excesses. It is the minimal violence which will prevent later, much worse, violence….WimminsLib has pretended that justice will be served by exaggerating men's domestic violence (e.g. the biased 'Hitting Home' propaganda from the Ministry of Justice) and by purporting that verbal punishments can serve as the final enforcement mechanism for domestic order, instead of the sting of a few smacks. On the traditional approach, the typical child's upbringing will require a few well-chosen careful smacks which will cause no injury. These must be such that the child will understand (insofar as it is able) the justice involved, and will be treated throughout with evident stern love.”

“To repeal Section 59 of the Crimes Act, which permits parents to use ‘reasonable force’ in disciplining their children, would indeed be ‘state interference’, and perhaps to a far greater extent than most people realise. Therefore any petitioning on this matter ought to also emphasise concern about this. The push for such repeal goes right back to the U.N., and to UNICEF, which has an ‘Anti-War Agenda’. It was all set out in the N.Z.Herald of 13th March 1996, under ‘Education For Peace’, in Section 3, page 5. Thus, in their U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child there is provision for children not to receive physical punishment. So this push is, in the widest sense, really just part of the indeologically-driven international pacifist, and anti-violence ‘Peace’ movement crusade. Always, of course, they employ the tactic of blinding people with emotional rubbish about abuse; invariably using extreme cases to argue for abolition, and blurring the very real distinctions between such horrendous cases and ordinary mild smacking. A spin-off for them is that it also narrows one's perspective and prevents one from seeing the wider picture of what is REALLY going on, what is REALLY driving the whole anti-corporal punishment campaign.”

“As a person who went through a 3 day trial this year the provision of S 59 Crimes Act allowed justice to prevail after 18 months of waiting and approx' $96,000 of tax-payer's money for District Court running expenses and 24 pre-trial appearances. At trial the 9 year old boy admitted to all the lies, saying he had conned the CYFs people because he ‘wanted a break.’ If it wasn't for S 59 two of us would likely be in jail now as that was where a CYFs Supervisor (18 months ago) had told the boy we were going.”

Leading to the Conclusion:

“The debate that has being going on is sufficient evidence that while we should debate this issue amongst ourselves, we should not be putting forward a position claiming to represent all fathers because there is not one. There are those who recognise that physical discipline has its place, and I unashamedly place my flag in this camp. For reasons already outlined [above] I oppose the fathers' movement adopting this line, even if there was a solid consensus. There are some others who are personally opposed to physical discipline. Whilst I think they are wrong, I respect their right to raise their children in a manner that feels right to them, so long as they respect my right to do the same. It is clear that there will never be a consensus amongst us on this issues, therefore we simply cannot make a statement giving the view of NZ fathers.”

 

Next page: So who is behind the move to make corporal punishment illegal?

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