Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Making it up on smacking

189 Responses

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  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Revel Drummond,

    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.

    The trouble with comments like yours is that they effectively deny the abuse that others experienced ever took place. I thought it clear that what happened to Miche as a kid was not a light tap on the bum or rap on the knuckles. See, between the two extremes of kids who never get smacked and kids who are beaten to death by their parents is a whole range of experiences, and an awful lot of kids suffer terrible physical abuse. And here you are effectively telling Miche and many others that what happened to them as kids wasn't abuse, that they deserved it, that it was for their own good..... the same shit their abusers told them.

    I'm really struggling to find polite words for the attitude implied in your comment, so I'll just leave it with

    It

    Does

    Not

    Help.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    It is a generational thing. Sweden apparently banned hitting children in the 1970s and it has taken that long for cultural change to catch up with legislation. One of the best aspects of our legislation is that children themselves now know it is illegal to hit them, so are apparently telling authorities about their friends and family members who are being beaten.

    I was involved in the campaign to stop corporal punishment in schools. It was hard work back in the early 1970s persuading people to sign petitions etc. But if you tell today's students that male teachers were given straps to thrash their students as part of their graduation from teacher's college, and many teachers - and even prefects - beat kids regularly, up until the 1989 law change, they are incredulous.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3187 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    the 1989 law change, they are incredulous.

    Was it that late? By 1989 I had attended 7 schools and I honestly don't recall ever being strapped or seeing or even hearing about anybody else being strapped. Nevertheless, the strap was something we all knew about and it was still a threat.

    But thanks for the work you put in getting that law changed.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Sacha,

    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.

    +1

    I vote for "anti-assault-on-a-child-with-a-deadly-weapon-law"

    Because far from being used a a method for social change as Graeme is so disingenuously asserting, Section 59 was repealed to stop assault on children with deadly weapons. The reason was that up until the law change there were lawyers who felt they served society well by arguing that their client should be protected from being thrown in jail by that Section of the law. I'm sure they slept well at night.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4449 posts Report Reply

  • Hamish, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    Graeme, you've got a serious case of concern-trolling. You should get that looked at.

    As mentioned earlier, this isn't an academic argument. If you think the sky is falling, you need to provide the evidence.

    Otherwise you're riding the same truthy boat as Colin Craig.

    The A.K. • Since Nov 2006 • 155 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones,

    The reason was that up until the law change there were lawyers who felt they served society well by arguing that their client should be protected from being thrown in jail by that Section of the law.

    Lawyers do serve society by arguing that their clients should be protected by the protections the law says they have. Did then, still do. You can't blame lawyers for working within bad law. Blame the people who made the law, or read it and thought it meant they could thrash their kid with the household implement of their choice. Blame the juries who agreed with them.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 976 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    One thing about the law change and the associated restriction on assault on children is that it highlighted the difference between the law which is by necessity a fixed line which may not be crossed and the real world, which is a continuum of behaviours.

    I do not believe smacking works, but I'm not a parent, it's difficult for me to be certain other than to read the literature. Even then I'm left in doubt because the literature is all about averages. There may indeed be individual cases where a smack (physically harmless but emotionally shocking) may help, even when we know on average it does not. I really don't know and I've seen parents so tired and worn out that maybe that's the only thing they can think of to do. But even then what I'm talking about is the mildest form of physical punishment.

    At the other end are disgusting assaults on children that are barbaric in nature and horrific to any reasonable person.

    And in between is a complete continuum of physical punishments and assaults.

    None of the pro-smackers argue for the horrific assaults to be legal, but they all argue that their level of punishment is OK. Without ever really defining what that is.

    Meanwhile there is the law. A fixed line. In the past that line allowed horrific assaults to occur. That needed to change.

    Now we have a law that technically allows no physical punishment whatsoever. And within our current legal structure there have been very few prosecutions and only then when the police judged the physical punishment to be "unacceptable".

    It seems to me to be working pretty well now. Much better than before.

    I still don't know for certain whether any physical punishment is always bad but with the law this way around it's really easy for the police to deal with cases where it's really obviously bad.

    And on a medical note any time you hit a child's head you risk concussion and brain damage so making the head an immediate "out-of-bounds" zone is a damn good idea.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4449 posts Report Reply

  • Dan Horne, in reply to Kyle MacDonald,

    but if you accept that the psychological evidence is that ALL physical punishment can cause damage

    Er, I don't. Or at least, I haven't seen that eveidence

    Since Jan 2010 • 10 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to B Jones,

    Blame the people who made the law, or read it and thought it meant they could thrash their kid with the household implement of their choice. Blame the juries who agreed with them.

    I blame all them too. But I also blame the lawyers. I'm good at blame :). It's much easier to blame than to solve the actual problem.

    Seriously everyone involved was responsible. Lawyers do not get a free pass because they were "just doing their job".

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4449 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    So, not to put to fine a point on it Colin Craig made a string of untrue statements (whether out of malice or sheer ignorance, I don't really know) and the media just transcribed the press release. 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.

    It sounds like a textbook case of emotion politics, and I thought those in the media learned that in high school debating. Or is the media playing the written word equivalent of selling weapons to both sides of the conflict?

    And when the big-earringed CEO of the CCCP has a history of playing the clichéd 'childless' card against anti-smackers...

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5414 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    None of the pro-smackers argue for the horrific assaults to be legal, but they all argue that their level of punishment is OK. Without ever really defining what that is.

    Colin Craig says his smacking is the “flick of a finger on the back of a knuckle”. Which I’m fairly sure is nonsense.

    But Family First and others did in fact campaign in support of parents who had quite clearly committed assaults on their children. That idiot Jimmy Mason in Christchurch, for example, who continued to maintain he had just given his son a “flick on the ear” when witnesses saw him punch his son in the face and he actually told the policewoman who arrived on the scene that he had done so.

    Bob McCoskrie loudly supported Mason and other abusers (including the “Timaru Lady”, with her riding crop) – and then, usually, ran for cover when the real facts emerged in court.

    The idea that the pro-smacking lobby only ever lent its support to decent parents who administered an orderly smack on the bottom is just unsustainable. They got behind any number of thugs.

    As you may have gathered, I have extremely strong feelings of contempt for Bob McCoskrie. I know one of the Timaru Lady's children, and I know that he begged McCoskrie to stop making a hero of his mother and told him what was actually going on in the home. McCoskrie ignored him. He's a rotten, lying bastard.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22724 posts Report Reply

  • izogi, in reply to Revel Drummond,

    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.

    Can you say with as much confidence that your life would have been worse if your mother had not smacked you and your brothers, knowing that smacking was not legal?

    That’s more what’s at issue, because if the law had been what it now is when you were growing up, your mother very possibly would have acted completely differently. Especially if it had been that way for a number of years.

    I can’t speak with qualified expertise, but I know plenty of young modern parents who appear, in my view, to be doing a great job bringing up their children without resorting to smacking them. I know several who don't seem to be doing as-great a job, but in their cases I can't imagine that being allowed to smack would make the slightest difference.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 1139 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Hamish,

    If you think the sky is falling, you need to provide the evidence.

    I don't think the the Sky is falling. And if it ever does fall, it's probably not going to fall on respectable white middle class people like me.

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

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to izogi,

    I know plenty of young modern parents who appear, in my view, to be doing a great job bringing up their children without resorting to smacking them.

    +1

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

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Russell Brown,

    That idiot Jimmy Mason in Christchurch, for example, who continued to maintain he had just given his son a “flick on the ear” when witnesses saw him punch his son in the face and he actually told the policewoman who arrived on the scene that he had done so.

    Jimmy Mason was ultimately acquitted after the Supreme Court threw out his conviction.

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

  • Russell Brown,

    This is from one of my emails from the Timaru Lady's son:

    I left home during high school because
    of the physical abuse and have nothing further to do with my mother
    other than through countless family court hearings with me trying to
    get my brothers and sisters removed from her care.

    Anyway the point of my email is that I talked to Family First several
    times years ago and they were aware of [redacted]'s past and I even gave
    them more informed details but they were more than happy just to brush
    it over and use her as a political catalyst. It makes me really angry
    and I did fire back at them at the time they were supporting violence
    against our children. But however. You will find a couple more
    organisations such as [redacted] organisations that have her on their
    board (again who i have contacted) that fully support her. I really
    think someone should bring this to light....

    I can't say more than that without breaching a suppression order, but believe me, there's plenty more.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22724 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    Was it that late? By 1989 I had attended 7 schools and I honestly don’t recall ever being strapped or seeing or even hearing about anybody else being strapped.

    Yes and no. That was when the law change was, but there had been a policy change a few years earlier which meant public schools at least had stopped.

    We also finally abolished the death penalty in 1989, but the last execution was in 1957.

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

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    Jimmy Mason was ultimately acquitted after the Supreme Court threw out his conviction.

    He was, yes, on a technicality over the way the original two charges were framed together.

    But I'm not aware that the evidence of the eyewitnesses and the policewoman was found wanting, so I'm not sure why you're responding to that part of my comment. The evidence was that he did indeed punch a four year-old child in the face.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22724 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Because far from being used a a method for social change as Graeme is so disingenuously asserting, Section 59 was repealed to stop assault on children with deadly weapons.

    Section 59 was not repealed. The level of force permitted by section 59 has not changed, merely the circumstances in which that level of force can be used.

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

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I’m not sure why you’re responding to that part of my comment

    I'm always with the facts. Especially in comments threads to posts about people getting facts wrong.

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

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    I’m always with the facts. Especially in comments threads to posts about people getting facts wrong.

    Except my facts weren’t wrong. That’s what the evidence was. I was aware he eventually managed to get the court to throw out the charge because of the way it was framed.

    Do you perchance have any thoughts on the actual substance of what I said?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22724 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    I'm pretty sure it was 1989. When Phil Goff was Minister of Education. (He did some very good things as Minister such as getting playcentres funded on a similar basis to other preschools). Probably by then some more liberal schools had stopped the practice, but there was still a huge backlash against the legislation. Like the section 59 legislation. And like we are seeing now. I have already heard calls to bring back corporal punishment in schools in this current discussion.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3187 posts Report Reply

  • Hamish, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    ...and it ever does fall, it's probably not going to fall on respectable white middle class people like me.

    More concern-trolling doesn't negate the earlier concern-trolling.

    "Bad things might happen - although they haven't yet - they might, and if they do, they might happen to [vulnerable group], and I'm implying that you think it will happen, and are ok with it, if you don't agree."

    The A.K. • Since Nov 2006 • 155 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    It is a generational thing. Sweden apparently banned hitting children in the 1970s and it has taken that long for cultural change to catch up with legislation.

    My understanding is that the 1979 law change in Sweden did not amend the criminal law, as happened here. CNN's description here accords with my understanding:

    The result was Chapter 6, Section 1 of the Swedish Children and Parents Code: "Children are entitled to care, security and a good upbringing. Children are to be treated with respect for their person and individuality and may not be subjected to corporal punishment or any other humiliating treatment." It passed almost unanimously.

    The section carries no penalties...

    If we had a passed a law that did not carry the weight of the criminal law with it I would not be making this argument.

    This position is one I've slowly come to. I make a lot of submissions on bills creating all sorts of criminal offences, and I've started asking myself, would I want any person who did this, and nothing more, to have to answer the question: "do you have any criminal convictions?" with a yes?

    Sometimes, the answer is yes, Other times, the answer is, only if X or Y is also present (e.g. some corrupt intention or knowledge), and other times, it's no, but the equivalent of a parking ticket would be okay. And for some things, marijuana possession, and what most people think of when they think of the word 'smacking', my answer is no. I'm not necessarily opposed to law in those circumstances, but feel it shouldn't be a criminal one.

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

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Except my facts weren’t wrong. That’s what the evidence was. I was aware he eventually managed to get the court to throw out the charge because of the way it was framed.

    I have no idea what the evidence was, or whether it was credible.

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

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