Barnardos Founder Would Have Voted No

August 20th, 2009

Media Release 19 Aug 09
Family First NZ says that a biography on Barnardos founder Dr Thomas Barnardo shows that he clearly understood the difference between appropriate discipline and child abuse.

In the book Father of Nobody’s Children – a portrait of Dr. Barnardo by Norman Wymer, originally published in 1954, it discusses how he dealt with discipline including ‘mild’ smacking or time-out, but his code included safeguards against too harsh treatment

“… The schoolmaster’s punishment is to be limited to two strokes on the hand – one on each hand… Any master… who raises his hand or foot to any boy in the house, who is found guilty of having struck a boy with his hand, with a stick, with his foot, or treated him with violence,,, will be peremptorily dismissed. All the Masters are entreated to remember that the law of kindness must govern the house…”

“It is quite evident that Dr Barnardo who worked with nearly 60,000 children over his lifetime knew the concepts of ‘good parental correction’, non-abusive or light smacking, and the difference between smacking and child abuse,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“It is disappointing that the modern-day Barnardos organisations around the world are willing to spend so much energy and resources refuting the techniques used by their founder with so much success. The love and respect afforded to Dr Barnardo was well deserved and appropriate.”

“There is no doubt that he would have voted NO in the Referendum and would have opposed a law that criminalised his actions as he sought to support and care for so many children through his work,” says Mr McCoskrie.

Smacking – beneficial or harmful?

August 19th, 2009

Published in Christchurch Press 19 August 09
Dr Philip Wescombe is a concerned father of three boys, a Microbiologist by trade and stood as a candidate in Dunedin South for the Kiwi Party at the 2008 general election.

With the referendum looming there has been increasing scrutiny of the wording “Should a smack as part of good parental discipline be a criminal offence in New Zealand?” Many commentators have derided the “good parental discipline” component, saying they don’t believe good parents smack their children. I would challenge these commentators to come up with the scientific research to back up their opinions. As will be outlined below, there is considerable solid evidence in the scientific literature that supports the use of spanking/smacking as a useful and beneficial tool for loving parents who raise healthy, well adjusted children.


Jim Evans: New section 59 is clearly a mess

August 6th, 2009

NZ Herald Aug 06, 2009
* Jim Evans is emeritus professor of law at Auckland University.

John Roughan is a good political commentator, but he is not right about section 59 of the Crimes Act 1961. The law it lays down is far from clear. Since much confusion exists about the section, let me try to clarify its effect as briefly as possible.

..This is not clear legislation. In creating this law, Parliament abandoned its constitutional responsibility to say with clarity just which conduct is criminal. The section results from a political fudge. Whatever other views one takes about the topic of smacking, that much at least ought to be kept clear.


What Did You Say Phil?

August 4th, 2009

More NO Videos here.

Smacking Democracy

August 4th, 2009

An article just published in CANTA, the student magazine of the University of Canterbury Student’s Association.

We’ve all heard about it and we’re all sick to death with it. The smacking referendum. The Electoral Office will have posted us all a voting form on 31 July, and we’ll have 3 weeks to fill it out and post it back to them. The $10 million dollar question being asked is, “Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand”, and not surprisingly there will be two cute little tick boxes next to the question: Yes or No.

Why are we going through this whole rigmarole of having a referendum about smacking? In 2004, Sue Bradford’s bill to amend Section 59 of the Crimes Act was drawn from the ballot. She referred to it as her “Anti-Smacking Bill”. Thing is, the law doesn’t just ban smacking – it bans any use of reasonable force when parents or caregivers need to correct their children. And yes, that includes placing your children in time-out when they’ve been naughty. However unsurprisingly, polling since 2005 has indicated with incredible consistency that 82% of Kiwis think that Bradford’s bill should never have been passed. (check out Heck, I have personally spoken to several thousand Kiwis while I was collecting signatures on the petition for the referendum. A few people were absolutely disgusted at the concept of a “loving smack” – one anti-smacking advocate got so wound up that he “smacked” myself and an elderly woman who stood at the table signing the petition. The irony was lost on him.

An overwhelming majority of the people I spoke to told me that they would never beat up their children – but that an occasional smack to reinforce that they had disobeyed really seemed to work well. I was surprised at the number of children and teens who came up asking to sign, annoyed when they were told that only people 18yrs and older could put their name to the petition. For the most part, the mainstream media in New Zealand has ignored this groundswell of opposition to the law – preferring instead to espouse the same tired old drivel that we’re hearing from Parliament and branches of the bureaucracy.

The new law criminalises all parents who use a smack to correct their children from time to time. “Yes, but they won’t be prosecuted – all the new law does is to remove a defence under which parents were getting away with beating their children with blocks of wood and horse-whips to within an inch of their lives,” say Sue Bradford the Yes Vote lobby. It’s all smoke and mirrors. It is correct that at this stage few parents will be prosecuted for giving a corrective smack. However parents will still be criminalised for smacking – what are the kids going to think? Mummy’s giving me a smack for stealing money from her purse – but my school-teacher told me smacking is illegal. The law-change was purported to ensure that the defence of smacking was not able to be used when parents abused their children. However in the entire history of the law there were only 7 or 8 cases in which the jury reached a perhaps less than satisfactory decision.

But the question’s loaded – it’s a leading question! John Key and Phil Goff can’t understand it and so have said that they won’t bother voting. Over the past few weeks reporters have been churning out articles faster than you can read them, explaining why the referendum question is hopeless and completely destroys the credibility and effectiveness of the whole process. They have intentionally sought to shift the debate from the real issue – parental authority, to a side-issue: the wording of the referendum question. However when mother of two, Sheryl Savill submitted her petition question to the Clerk of Parliament it was put to the public for a month, to get feedback on the wording of the question. The question originally read “Should a smack within the context of positive parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?”. The Ministry of Justice among others contacted the Clerk raising various issues with the question.

After this process, the Clerk – who has the reputation of being the most balanced and respectable clerk’s in the history of New Zealand Parliament, approved the final version of the question; “Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?”. When proponents of the new law claim that the question presupposes that smacking is, by definition, a part of good parenting, they are applying preschooler logic to the issue. I tell you what, the 390,000 Kiwis who signed the petition didn’t have any trouble reading the question. It is pathetic that I should have to explain this, but the correct way to understand the question is as follows. Should a corrective smack that is administered as a part of good parenting be illegal? And in other words, should decent parents who love their kids and want what’s best for them be criminalised for giving their child a smack for the purpose of correction?

“Save the country $10m, withdraw the referendum, give the money to victims of abuse” bleat the anti-smacking brigade. Of course the thing they conveniently forget is exactly who is responsible for this huge cost being imposed on the hardworking taxpayers. It is a convention of Parliament that when a petition has been successful, the referendum should take place within one year, and usually at the general election – estimated to cost around $2m. Helen Clark decided that the referendum would not be held at the election though, as it would be extremely detrimental to her party as well as making smacking a key election issue. Just recently, Savill made a statement in which she offered to withdraw her petition for a referendum if the Government would amend the anti-smacking law so that it better reflected the will of the people of New Zealand. This offer was not accepted.

Don’t be fooled. Voting yes will do nothing that will even remotely help lower New Zealand’s deplorably high child abuse statistics. Voting no will send John a clear message that we’re not going to stand for Nanny State. Let’s get this confounded referendum out of the way and then roll up our sleeves and put our effort into initiatives that will drive a stake into the heart of child abuse.

- by Andy Moore

YACA Responds to Misleading SAVE Article

August 4th, 2009

Youth Against Child Abuse NZ has responded to an opinion article in the Nelson Mail from fellow child abuse action group, SAVE. (3 August)

Youth Against Child Abuse (YACA) is surprised that the Nelson Mail would publish an opinion piece from Students Against Violence Everywhere (SAVE) given that it shows such an evident lack of research or factual accuracy.

“The well-intentioned Johny O’Donnel who is the founder of SAVE states in the article that the referendum question ‘is not going to reflect real public opinions’. The members of youth-based child-abuse action group YACA believe that the current law itself does not reflect ‘real public opinions’, and as such should be turfed out as the polls are so clearly indicating,” says YACA spokesperson Rachel Thompson.

“Johny is correct when he acknowledges that the law has ’seen a huge backlash from the public’. However further down in the article Johny writes, ‘No parents have got away with child abuse… since the law came in’. To this YACA simply responds that this was virtually the same scenario under the old law,” she says. “Only 7 or 8 cases viewed as possible child abuse cases were ever excused by a jury during the life of the original Section 59 of the Crimes Act. It therefore comes as no surprise that to date no parents have got away with child abuse since the inception of the new law.”

While it is true that ‘there is not one parent behind bars for smacking’, SAVE is ignoring the question that 83% of Kiwis are crying out to be heard, “why are parents being criminalised for giving a corrective smack?”

“YACA continues to represent the majority of Kiwi youth who believe that a yes vote will not help lower child abuse in New Zealand,” she says. “Voting NO will send a clear message that we want Parliament to address the real causes of child abuse.”

Smacking Poll: People v Politicians

August 3rd, 2009

MEDIA RELEASE 3 August 2009
Family First NZ says that the latest poll on attitudes to the smacking law is a reminder that the smacking debate is essentially a battle between the huge majority of NZ’ers and the politicians.

“The One News poll shows 83% opposition to the smacking law, consistent with every other poll done both before the law change and in the two years since,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of the Family First NZ.

“But our elected representatives are adopting a ‘we know better than you’ attitude and are refusing to listen to the wishes of the NZ public. This is a disgraceful display of democracy, and shows incredible disrespect.”

“The poll also shows that those who believe that the current law may be working at the moment (25%) still don’t support the law (only 13% voting yes). The government and the police can try to paint a rosy picture on the law but the bottom line is that NZ’ers simply don’t accept it.”

Family First NZ agree with the 76% who say that the Referendum is not a good use of public money but has been necessitated because of ‘political deafness’ and a cynical postponing of the Referendum from being held at the General Election last year.

“This whole debate around the anti-smacking law has come down to a battle between the common sense of families and the agenda of politicians and government funded groups,” says Mr McCoskrie.

“Parents are doing their job 24/7 and the vast majority are doing a brilliant job. It’s time we listened to them on this issue.”

“Let’s target the real causes of child abuse – not real parents.”

Summary of polls for the past four years

John Roughan’s sinister undertones!

August 2nd, 2009

John Roughan (‘Sinister undertones to referendum instigators’ NZ Herald 1 Aug) needs a good dose of correction.

He cannot understand ‘good parental correction’ in the referendum question yet has no problem with ‘good care and parenting’ contained within the current anti-smacking law.

He refuses to acknowledge the mounting evidence of parents being reported and investigated for using a smack in the supermarket, or to correct swearing, insolence, or persistent disobedience. Some parents have even been prosecuted (13 at last count according to police reports) and children temporarily removed by CYF.

He continues the myth that parents who use a smack can only be angry and frustrated – a charge which he never applies to a parent who says ‘get to your room!’ or ‘you’re grounded!’ But then he thinks that correction, given after the event, and used to deter future wrong behaviour, is ineffective.

Roughan tries to link a cold-blooded assault with a smack – a link which parents simply don’t buy. He hysterically labels supporters of the referendum as wanting to flog children.

Grant Illingworth QC says the anti-smacking law is an extremely poor piece of legal drafting calculated to create confusion rather than clarity, and it criminalizes behaviour which should not be classified as a criminal offence.

I will take a QC’s interpretation way before the sinister undertones of Roughan.

Waikato people smack law down – 92%!

August 1st, 2009

Waikato Times 01/08/2009
Waikato residents have given overwhelming support to allowing parents to smack their children. Some 92 per cent of Waikato people who plan to vote in the current postal referendum voting papers went out yesterday are against smacking of children being a criminal offence, according to a telephone survey of 409 people in a Waikato Times-Versus telephone poll.

The poll was run this week on Tuesday and Wednesday. The results are a continuation of the high popularity for sanctioning smacking that has registered in national and regional polls for the past four years. But the Government has already said it won’t change the two-year-old law, which Prime Minister John Key thinks is working well.

The Times poll showed 70 per cent of Waikato residents planned to vote in the referendum, with that rising as high at 78 per cent within Hamilton. Females (76 per cent) were also more likely to vote. Residents were asked: “Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?” Just 8 per cent said yes.

CYFS says sorry to ‘traumatised’ family

July 31st, 2009

cyfNZ Herald Jul 31, 2009
Child, Youth and Family Services says a Christian couple are “good parents” even though they smack their children. Agency head Ray Smith said CYFS “could have done a better job” in the way it handled an allegation that the couple, Erik and Lisa, had abused their 10-year-old daughter Abigail. The father, Erik, had smacked the girl after she had a “massive meltdown”, banging her bunk against the wall and calling her mother “evil”. He said the smack was aimed at her bottom, but she wriggled and he left two red fingermarks on her back. 

He said the family were “traumatised” when the agency told them on a Friday afternoon to send their two daughters to stay with friends until social workers had time to investigate the allegation on the Monday. Mr Smith said the agency “could have done a better job of talking through other options”. READ MORE