Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Making it up on smacking

189 Responses

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  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Miche Campbell,

    It is neither safe nor logical to assume a child is more frightened of the police taking their parent(s) away than they are of the parent(s) themselves.

    I am not assuming that. I am open to the possibility that it is true for at least some people, in part based on anecdotal evidence.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3202 posts Report Reply

  • Revel Drummond, in reply to Miche Campbell,

    I can say with complete confidence that my life would have been worse had my mother been investigated, charged and convicted for smacking me and my brothers.

    Auckland • Since Oct 2009 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    Mostly, I'm talking about the consequences for the child, of a criminal conviction of a parent who has smacked.

    That's how the failure to prosecute spousal abuse used to be rationalised. Consequences for the battered wife (and the kids) might be be even worse if the husband were convicted.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Tim Darlington,

    And, overall, is using the criminal law as an agent of social change in this way – like we do with many other things, including marijuana use – likely to cause more harm than good in this instance?

    This one's actually worse than the marijuana example. There's nothing commendable about creating criminal law to "send a message," with no intention of actually prosecuting anyone for the behaviour being criminalised. It's not ony a waste of large amounts of the time and effort of very highly-paid individuals, it makes a mockery of criminal law.

    Since Nov 2006 • 56 posts Report Reply

  • Brodie Davis,

    I think my opinion on this was changed by a comment by Russell when the law came out, and it was about how this makes the law equitable between adults and children. In that behaviors that would be illegal against an adult were now illegal against a child. And that just because a person is your child doesn’t give you free reign to commit assault on them.

    So its still surprising to me that there are politicians pushing the agenda to allow that to take place again.

    Since Aug 2008 • 54 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle MacDonald, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    You might be right Graeme, but if you accept that the psychological evidence is that ALL physical punishment can cause damage, then the state has a right to protect, even just from a Health policy perspective. The hard part is where do you draw the line, and given the potential for damage, it has to be zero tolerance, with discretion. In the ideal world, "minor cases" should receive support and input to learn better, more effective parenting strategies, and more severe prosecuted.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 81 posts Report Reply

  • Phil Wallington,

    Mr. Craig is standing yet again as the Member for Lower Abdomen. The very thought of smacking must cause his priapism
    The man needs help.

    Waikawa Beach • Since Sep 2013 • 41 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    If I get into a minor scuffle in Courtenay Place, the person who I am fighting is not likely to suffer long-term if I have a conviction.

    You can make the same argument for any family violence. And it’s true. But should it be legal to only assault people you live with or are related to? That would be insane, and I can't believe we're still having this conversation.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3887 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Lilith __,

    You can make the same argument for any family violence. And it’s true. But should it somehow be legal to assault people you live with or are related to?

    It will sometimes be true, and will sometimes not be true. I anticipate that the ratio differs between instances of smacking and other family violence. If you have evidence to confirm or dispute this, I would welcome it.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3202 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    a child assault case, not a smacking case

    Let's stop calling what that law change was tackling 'smacking' shall we. That's lazily repeating the spin of its opponents. Thrashing children with hunks of timber and suchlike is not a 'smack'. It has always been child assault.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19683 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    Yet again, Russell does more basic fact checking in his home office than the alleged news outlets put together.

    I don't know about anyone else, but this shit is getting tedious.

    Yes, and I laugh whenever I hear large media organisations claim that their professionalism is why they deserve legal protections that don't apply to those feelthy bloggers.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19683 posts Report Reply

  • James W, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    But again, if the intention of the law isn't to criminalise parents who smack, it was an odd choice to pass a law that makes them criminals.

    You've got it backwards. Assault is a crime. But before the law change, there was a part of the Crimes Act that specifically allowed adults to assault children. The law change removed that defense, bringing assault against children into line with assault against adults, or animals. It's on the pro-smacking crowd to justify why child assault should have an exemption, not the other way around.

    And we needs to stop using the word "smacking". It's hitting. It's assault. "Smacking" is a word used to diminish the act, but it speaks volumes about our society that the only time it's used is when it's assault on children.

    Since Jul 2008 • 136 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    If you have evidence to confirm or dispute this, I would welcome it.

    It's not about evidence of harm Graeme. It's about the absurdity of a law that protected everyone in society except for defenceless children.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3887 posts Report Reply

  • James W,

    The problem with this "debate" is it's constantly framed as "good parents who give little Johnny a smack on the bum will go to jail." What we have is two forms of smacking: the aforementioned, which is antiquated and ineffective, but probably not going to cause serious harm to the child. And then we have the abuse that involves using a hose or piece of wood to thrash a child that pretty much every reasonable person would agree is harmful.

    The problem? You can't legislate for one and not the other. Or rather, we tried, and the result was this murky "reasonable force" law that allowed the latter group to get off thanks to a jury of their peers. And so in an effort to stop the latter, we must legislate for both groups, and leave it up to police discretion to decide what gets prosecuted. I'm happy with that outcome. If the debate was framed this way, I dare say most of the country would be too.

    Since Jul 2008 • 136 posts Report Reply

  • Heather Gaye,

    Graeme: interested to know what you think the law should look like. How would you decriminalise light smacking, but also reduce/prevent cases where a parent is acquitted for behaviour they're likely to have gotten a conviction for, had the recipient not been their child?

    And/or: what do you think of the outcomes of the cases publicised by anti-smacking lobbyists, before the law change? eg the one with the riding crop?

    Morningside • Since Nov 2006 • 532 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones,

    Smacking is a subset of assault. Focussing on the mildest end of the spectrum is a rhetorical way of justifying the more serious end. Kissing your adult partner without their consent is also a subset of assault, but that isn't any sort of a decent argument that domestic violence laws are too harsh and should be repealed.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 976 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to James W,

    The law change removed that defense, bringing assault against children into line with assault against adults, or animals.

    Your understanding of the law around assaults on animals is mistaken.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3202 posts Report Reply

  • James W, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    Your understanding of the law around assaults on animals is mistaken.

    Sorry, all I read was "everything else you said was correct but I can't ever admit I'm wrong."

    Since Jul 2008 • 136 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Heather Gaye,

    How would you decriminalise light smacking, but also reduce/prevent cases where a parent is acquitted for behaviour they’re likely to have gotten a conviction for, had the recipient not been their child?

    I thought Chester Borrows' proposed amendment, as adopted in John Boscawen's member's bill was a reasonable first attempt at compromise legislation.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3202 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to James W,

    Sorry, all I read was “everything else you said was correct but I can’t ever admit I’m wrong.”

    We all make mistakes.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3202 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to James W,

    And we needs to stop using the word “smacking”. It’s hitting. It’s assault. “Smacking” is a word used to diminish the act, but it speaks volumes about our society that the only time it’s used is when it’s assault on children.

    The word hitting is broader than the word smacking. I don't support doing either to children.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3202 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Tim Darlington,

    This one’s actually worse than the marijuana example. There’s nothing commendable about creating criminal law to “send a message,” with no intention of actually prosecuting anyone for the behaviour being criminalised. It’s not ony a waste of large amounts of the time and effort of very highly-paid individuals, it makes a mockery of criminal law.

    The law on assault wasn’t “created” – it already existed. And in at least one case I’m aware of, the reasonable force defence was used to escape conviction in circumstances that allowed further assaults to continue. It’s only a suppression order that prevents me from outlining the miserable, upsetting case of the “Timaru Lady”.

    The law on marijuana seeks to proscribe personal behaviour on the basis that it's unhealthy. We have not made, say, tobacco smoking illegal, but we have legislated to curb its impact on other people. I think that's a better comparison.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22749 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Heather Gaye,

    And/or: what do you think of the outcomes of the cases publicised by anti-smacking lobbyists, before the law change? eg the one with the riding crop?

    That's the one I'm referring to above. Terrible things were allowed to happen as a result of that acquittal.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22749 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    I thought Chester Borrows’ proposed amendment, as adopted in John Boscawen’s member’s bill was a reasonable first attempt at compromise legislation.

    Did that come up before or after the compromises that were in the bill as it passed? The ones that specifically allow for the use of force to keep children and others safe? They seemed reasonable to me.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22749 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Did that come up before or after the compromises that were in the bill as it passed? The ones that specifically allow for the use of force to keep children and others safe? They seemed reasonable to me.

    I believe it's a combination of the two.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3202 posts Report Reply

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