Quote of the day

March 26, 2015

. . . (The daughter – almost age 4): “Mummy, quickly, I’m giving birth!”
…. 5 dolls immediately arrive.
“Ok, here they are. Now I’m going to a conference – can you look after them please?”
 – Offsetting Behaviour

What does this teach?

March 24, 2015

“What would have happened if you told your parents you’d been punished for something you’d done at school?”

The question came from a teacher and my reply was simple – I wouldn’t have told them because I’d have got no sympathy and might have invited further punishment.

Had I felt I’d been unfairly dealt to and my parents agreed with me, the best I could have expected from them was acceptance that it was unfortunate but they would still have supported the school.

The teacher sighed and said if only they still had that level of support from parents. Instead, they got parents swearing black was white and their little angels could do no wrong.

That conversation was more than a decade ago and the teacher wasn’t then having to deal with legal action.

The St Bede’s College rowers axed from their Maadi Cup rowing team for breaching airport security say they took court action due to concerns over the school’s decision-making process and have questioned whether the punishment was fair.  . .

Teen rowers Jack Bell and Jordan Kennedy were removed from the school’s Maadi Cup rowing team after being given formal warnings by police and the Aviation Security Service for jumping on a baggage conveyor at Auckland Airport on Friday.

The pupils, who had just arrived on a domestic flight from Christchurch, rode the carousel through rubber curtains and into a restricted baggage area, the Civil Aviation Authority said.

The school ruled the pupils should be sent home. However, their parents, Shane Kennedy and Antony Bell, were granted a High Court injunction allowing their sons to stay and compete in the Maadi Cup.

A statement, released by the boys and their families on Monday afternoon, said the court action was never intended to justify their actions or to suggest the school was not entitled to take disciplinary action.

“The only reason for the court action was due to concerns over the school’s decision-making process and over whether or not the decision as made was proportionate to the misbehaviour. The court action was certainly not taken lightly,” the statement said.

“They accept that what they did was stupid. No harm was meant and it was intended as nothing more than a prank.

“All parties are aware that following a full and fair investigation about the incident that there may well be disciplinary consequences.” . . .

Rector Justin Boyle says this sets a dangerous precedent:

St Bede’s rector Justin Boyle said the action could be seen as undermining the school’s authority.

“What it’s doing there is is taking away the ability of the school to manage their children and any educational activity outside the classroom.”

Mr Boyle said the school’s board was meeting today to consider what actions it would take.

St Bede’s lawyer Andrew McCormick said it was important the school got a decision on whether it was right to discipline the pupils.

He said the substantive hearing could not be held until the regatta is over, so the penalty becomes moot.

But he said there were broader implications as to whether schools and principals can exercise their discretion and discipline students. . .

The Principals’ Federation says this is a worrying trend.

Principals’ Federation president Denise Torrey says it sends the wrong message to students.

“The boys didn’t learn that there are consequences to your actions and that the whole reason we have rules or a code of conduct is to outline expected behaviour.”

Ms Torrey says parents taking action in the courts is a worrying trend. . . .

No-one is arguing about what the boys did nor whether it was wrong to do it.

The court action was questioning the school’s process.

And what does that teach children?

That if they do something stupid, breach the school’s code of conduct they can get a court to stop the school imposing the logical consequences of that, not because the boys were wronged but because the school might have got the process wrong.

Once more it appears that the right process is more important than what’s right and wrong.

Quote of the day

March 23, 2015

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your life and how did you overcome it?
Fatherhood. It’s the most important thing I’ll ever do but no amount of work can prepare you for it. It’s not something you “overcome”, you just do your best.
Mark Osborne.

Too high but falling

January 23, 2015

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley has welcomed latest child abuse statistics showing that the number of children abused in the year ended June 2014 fell by 2,306 or 12 percent on the previous year.

“Let there be no doubt that our child abuse figures remain appallingly high but it is pleasing to see the numbers going down for the first time in 10 years,” says Mrs Tolley.

During the year to June 2014, 16,289 children had 19,623 findings of abuse substantiated compared to 18,595 children with 22,984 findings of abuse in the previous year. 

Of the 146,657 notifications made to Child, Youth and Family in 2014, 54,065 reports required further action involving 43,590 children.  This compared to 148,659 notifications in 2013 where 61,877 reports required further action in relation to 48,527 children.  A drop of 4,937 children.

In 2014, there were 9,499 children who were emotionally abused, 3,178 children who were physically abused and 1,294 children who were sexually abused.  In 2013 the corresponding figures were 11,386 children emotionally abused, 3,181 physically abused and 1,423 sexually abused.

“Good progress is being achieved in implementing the Children’s Action Plan.   With 30 specific measures designed to prevent abuse and neglect, it will make a real difference in reducing child abuse in this country.

“New Zealanders are becoming increasingly intolerant of abuse and neglect in their communities, and the more people willing to report their concerns, the better chance we’ll have to keep our children safe and protected.” says Mrs Tolley.

The number of people on benefits is also declining.

Could there be a link between that and the decline in child abuse?
While New Zealand's child abuse statistics are still far too high, we're making significant progress in preventing abuse and neglect.<br /><br /><br />


None should, any could

January 22, 2015

Could any parents put their hands on their hearts and say they had never done anything that might have endangered the life of one of their children?

Left a little one in a bath to answer a phone, or turn down the pot boiling on the stove; backed out of a garage without checking no child could get in the way; had a momentary loss of attention near water, a busy road or while driving; left a door or gate open that could have let the child get into danger; not put medicine, poison or matches out of reach; had children on a trailer or the back of a ute . . . ?

Often when there’s a tragedy because of human error, it’s the result of a chain of events where a change in one link could have averted it.

This is what appears to have happened in the tragic case of the baby who died in a car.

If the father had been able to take the baby to the day care centre as he normally did; if the mother had not been preoccupied; if she had glanced in the back of the car as she got out; if someone else in the car park had seen the baby; if the day care centre had been able to reach the mother, if they’d tried to reach the father . . . .

So many ifs and if only one of those had been different the baby might still be alive.

Tragically he’s not.

When our sons died it was no-one’s fault. They had brain disorders and nothing anyone could have done could have prevented their deaths meaning we could grieve without the guilt which the mother of this baby will feel.

Inevitably she has been judged. How could she do that? How could anything be more important than her baby? Isn’t putting the label forgotten baby syndrome  just excusing the inexcusable?

No doubt she is asking those questions too.

But can any of us say that there wasn’t a time when we were looking after our children that we failed to give them and their safety our full attention and it was only a matter of luck that the consequences weren’t tragic?

None of us should allow anything to come before the safety of a child in our care but any of us could and almost certainly have.

Thankfully for most of us the result hasn’t been tragic, sadly in this case it was.

Hard Country A Golden Bay Life

December 17, 2014


Robin and Garry Robilliard had big dreams of owning their own farm but only a very small budget with which to purchase one.

Knowing better properties closer to town were out of their reach they settled for Rocklands, a rundown property on very marginal hill country over the Takaka Hill from Nelson.

Not only the farm was rundown, the house was too, allowing too easy access for mice and rats.

The three previous owners went broke trying to farm the property and given the challenges they faced the Robilliards could easily have done so too.

But they were determined to keep hold of their dream and their farm and they persevered where many others would not have.

Farming this hard country required demanding physical work and mental toughness.

Robin recounts the their trials and triumphs without self-pity and with a sense of humour, painting a vivid picture of their life  and times and the people who played a part in them.

Farming and raising their children would have been enough for most women but Robin also managed to write entertaining accounts of their life for the Auckland Weekly and was a guest on the TV programme Beauty and the Beast.

This led to opportunities for travel writing and accounts of her travels behind the iron curtain are included in the book.

Hard Country is an interesting and  inspirational read which will appeal to a wide audience, not just those with a connection to farming.

That said, if you have a farmer in want of a Christmas present, this book would make a good one.

Hard Country A Golden Bay Life by Robin Robilliard is published by Random House.

Road blocks to family life

October 11, 2014

Is helping middle class families social engineering?

James Pethokoukis asks the question and provides his answer:

One frequently mentioned criticism of the plan in “Room to Grow” to dramatically expand the child tax credit* is that it’s somehow “social engineering.” But as Bob Stein, the author of that chapter, has patiently pointed out, the expansion would actually help offset the anti-family “social engineering” of current government policy and make Americans less dependent on government.

Anyway, all this talk of “social engineering” reminded me of a passage in “Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II” by George Weigel (bold is mine):

Perhaps the hardest-fought battle between Church and [Poland’s] regime involved family life, for the communists understood that men and women secure in the love of their families were a danger. Housing, work schedules, and school hours were all organized by the state to separate parents from their children as frequently as possible. Apartments were constructed to accommodate only small families, so that children would be regarded as a problem. Work was organized in four shifts and families were rarely together. The workday began at 6 or 7 a.m., so children had to be consigned to state-run child-care centers before school. The schools themselves were consolidated, and children were moved out of their local communities for schooling.

Now that’s social engineering. I guess my point here is that policy reformers should think carefully about the roadblocks government inadvertently puts up to Americans conducting a healthy family life. Maybe that’s tax policy. Maybe it’s welfare policy. . . .

I am not a fan of Working for Families when it is given to people earning well above the average wage.

However, I do accept it has a place at the lower end of the wage scale to ensure families are better off with a parent in work than on welfare.

Anecdotal evidence says it discourages  a second parent from seeking work because what’s earned is cancelled out by what’s lost in steep abatements from WFF.

If financial reward was a major consideration in the parent seeking work that could be the case.

Another issue which impacts on family life is the push for urban development which promotes infill-housing and going up rather than out.

Going up results in apartment blocks and in-fill housing – both usually have hardly any outside areas for relaxation and play which families need.

That is the norm in many other countries and isn’t a problem if there are plenty of public recreation areas which isn’t always the case.

The concern people have over the ageing population is not just a function of the post-war baby-boom. It’s a function of people having fewer or no children since then.

How many children people have, or if they have any at all, is entirely their business.

However, governments can influence that by policies which are or aren’t family friendly.

WFF is family friendly although it gives support to some who might not need it.

Sole parent benefits do support families in need, but they can also sabotage family relationships if the state is a better bread-winner than the absent parent.


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