Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Stop the Enabling

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  • Sacha,

    undermines parental rights

    Here we go again. Just where does this "right" to hit your children come from? And why are you so concerned about it?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19686 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    It removes a defence, yes. It exposes parents to the risk of a charge, yes. But you're not guilty of a crime simply because you "lightly smack"; it's not a strict liability offence and the Police have discretion over laying charges.

    Not guilty, in that you haven't been convicted; but convicted or not, charged or not, parents who lightly smack have broken the law.

    If I were to rob a bank, and never get caught, my actions would be criminal, not potentially criminal .

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

  • Sacha,

    Graeme, I get where you're coming from in principle. However I can't see how it makes much practical difference and I don't imagine most of our fellow citizens losing sleep over it - excepting some of our present guests of course.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19686 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams,

    Not guilty, in that you haven't been convicted; but convicted or not, charged or not, parents who lightly smack have broken the law.

    That's a different point to the one you made earlier. You said:

    Bradford may have wanted to make parents who lightly smack their children criminals (although I believe she's denied that), but I am quite confident the Parliament did not believe parents who lightly smack their children are or should be considered criminals.

    It was the use of the word criminal that I disagreed with. The amendment does not criminalise ordinary every day parents, it's not strict liability, various other defences may apply and unless there's a public interest in a charge being laid, parents may not ever be charged. Chuck and dave, I can understand, being confused about the difference.

    Whether parents are "guilty" or have broken the law in a legal rather than philosophical sense is also debatable. You're innocent of a crime until proven guilty, surely you're also innocent if you've not even been charged?

    If I were to rob a bank, and never get caught, my actions would be criminal, not potentially criminal.

    I think that's absurd and hardly a reasonable comparison. Moreover, I can't imagine the Police not investigating and attempting to lay charges in the case of a bank robbery. The two situations just aren't alike.

    How about two people involved in a minor fracas at a bar; I've seen plenty of these where the Police have simply moved people along and not, though they could have, detained or charged either party.

    The amendment merely removes a defence, not all defences, from parents/care-givers etc and in so doing, simply gives children the same rights their parents enjoy.

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2273 posts Report Reply

  • robbery,

    You're innocent of a crime until proven guilty, surely you're also innocent if you've not even been charged?

    put that idea to the test.
    if you shoplift a can of coke and don't get caught, are you innocent of shoplifting?

    if you run over a cyclist and no body sees you do it and you drive away are you innocent of hit and run?

    new zealand • Since May 2007 • 1882 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    You're innocent of a crime until proven guilty, surely you're also innocent if you've not even been charged?

    You are to be considered innocent until proven guilty. That doesn't mean you are innocent.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams,

    Thanks 3410, that is what I meant. The presumption of innocence is a legal presumption, not absolute.

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2273 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Parks,

    Paul, the example of the bank robbery was just Graeme pointing out that not being convicted isn't the same as saying the act isn't a criminal act. Beyond that, he wasn't saying it was a good analogy.

    The amendment does not criminalise ordinary every day parents,

    Yes it does, in the sense Graeme has been talking about pretty consistently. It might be worth you taking the time to read the exchange between Graeme and Brickley Paiste (or something like that - typing the name from memory) that starts page two and takes a 2 or 3 pages. Its pretty clear to me that Graeme established that, prior to the law change, the act of hitting your child lightly for the purpose of correction was not illegal, but now it is: it is an illegal act. An act "ordinary everyday parents" are committing, presumably.

    Wellington • Since May 2007 • 1164 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    I believe this conversation has largely been about what's legal rather than what's moral. Innocence and guilt do not mean the same things in both those worlds.

    There's a difference between doing something wrong and being convicted of a crime. I suspect most New Zealanders would readily call the convict a criminal, but it seems remarkably far-fetched to claim that any parent who smacks their children every now and then is going to feel all criminalised because they no longer have a special legal defense if they happen to whack their kid hard enough to end up in court.

    It's simpler than understanding the motivation of those who obsessively campaign against the law change as if they've lost something really important. Their fragile sense of masculinity must have departed a long time before Sue Bradford had anything to do with it.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19686 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Parks,

    I suspect that parliament doesn't want minor assaults on the rugby field to be criminal.

    I think this is getting there...

    I'd re-word that to say something like: I suspect that parliament doesn't want minor incidents of pushing or hitting on the rugby field to be a criminal level of assault. (I mean ones outside the rules of the game.)

    I don't think most people consider a routine (but not rule-protected) shove in a game is really an illegal act. Technically it is, (in that it doesn't have a specific defence, as with light smacking now). But in a day to day sense, we don't think of it that way.

    I'll have to expand on this later, I've gotta go. I'm away for the weekend so might not post for a while. Get this thread to 100 pages in the meantime, okay guys?

    Wellington • Since May 2007 • 1164 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Well we have one of the right ingredients. :)

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19686 posts Report Reply

  • Andy Moore,

    I would have thought it was quite simple Russell... I'm either a self-professed Christian soldier or I'm not...

    Christchurch, NZ • Since May 2009 • 4 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Yep, it's all about you.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19686 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams,

    Graeme pointing out that not being convicted isn't the same as saying the act isn't a criminal act.

    Agreed. It's not what I meant to argue however. My point is that amendment does not make smacking your child a strict liability offence, so to say all parents who smack their kids are criminal is to ignore the defences that remain available.

    The amendment does not criminalise ordinary every day parents,


    Yes it does, in the sense Graeme has been talking about pretty consistently. It might be worth you taking the time to read the exchange between Graeme and Brickley Paiste (or something like that - typing the name from memory) that starts page two and takes a 2 or 3 pages. Its pretty clear to me that Graeme established that, prior to the law change, the act of hitting your child lightly for the purpose of correction was not illegal, but now it is: it is an illegal act. An act "ordinary everyday parents" are committing, presumably.

    I'll re-read it but I didn't think it was on the same issue. I accept that the removal of the special defence exposes smacking parents to criminal charges (for which discretion around charges and other defences are available as per above).

    I'd re-word that to say something like: I suspect that parliament doesn't want minor incidents of pushing or hitting on the rugby field to be a criminal level of assault. (I mean ones outside the rules of the game.)

    It doesn't matter a whole lot what Parliament wants, the acts may well be prima facie assaults, what keeps them out of the courts is likely practical constraints relating to evidence, various defences and the lack of public interest.

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2273 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    Best argument for voting Yes, in the referendum, that the Herald has published "In plain English, as the ministry like to say, as often as possible.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4316 posts Report Reply

  • ScottY,

    Might have been more convincing had his analysis of section 59 not been so flawed.

    West • Since Feb 2009 • 794 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    For Roughan, that was quite coherent.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19686 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Not that I'm a lawyer.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19686 posts Report Reply

  • ScottY,

    Coherent doesn't mean accurate. If you are interested I've written about it here.

    West • Since Feb 2009 • 794 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    Coherent doesn't mean accurate.

    Who said ether are of any use in the argument over this referendum.

    But your quite right.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4316 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    Just a thought and a little, if not a lot, OT.
    The Gates thing.
    If the incident happened at the entrance to his property and the police had attempted to cover this thing up and it all went horribly wrong would it be forever referred to as,
    Gates gate gate ?.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Just thinking,

    I've voted, have you?

    Putaringamotu • Since Apr 2009 • 1158 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    The Gates thing.

    Smack both their heads together and you'd be lucky to come up with one half-wit.

    I've voted, have you?

    One invalid ballot went in the mail first thing this morning.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    I voted yes, a smack as part of good parenting should be a criminal offense. Because I don't want tomorrows parents getting the wrong end of the stick.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4316 posts Report Reply

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