Growing up as a parent

August 25, 2009

He’s the father of young children.

He said he had smacked them – lightly – in the past. At least some of the time, it was more a reflection of how he was feeling than on what the children had done.

He hadn’t smacked them recently and didn’t think he would again.

“That might have something to do with the anti-smacking legislation, because obviously I don’t want to break the law. But even more than that, I think it’s because I’ve grown up as a parent.”

Smacking was a lot more common when I was a child than it was when I had my children. That’s now more than 20 years ago and smacking is less common now than it was then.

There has been a cultural evolution and a bit of a nudge might have sped that up.

Last year’s law change wasn’t a nudge it was a shove with a steamroller. Parents, grandparents and a whole lot of people who don’t want to smack their children didn’t like being steamrolled. I’m not sure what level of comfort they’ll get from being told the people driving the steamroller are being directed to steer round them.

However, the wording of the referendum question is partly to blame for that. It didn’t ask for a law change.


Against the Act but not for smacking

June 25, 2009

It’s a tried and true debating strategy to take your opponents’ arguments to ludicrous extremes which enables you to depict them as extremists.

That’s why people who don’t want any change in the law around child discipline label anyone who does as pro-smacking.

However, it is possible to be against the Act without being in favour of smacking.

I don’t think smacking is a good thing to do but nor do I think parents who administer a light smack should be criminalised for doing so.

And what’s a light smack?  Borrowing from Chester Borrows and the amendment he attempted to introduce to the Act,  it would be one from which any pain is transitory and trifling, which doesn’t use a weapon or tool and isn’t inflicted by any means that is cruel, degrading or terrifying.

That would be a lot better than the old Section 59 and its replacement which still allows smacking providing its for prevention rather than correction.

Gooner points out at No Minister confusingly this means:

At the end of the day a smack for correction is prohibited but a smack for prevention is permitted. If a child constantly plays up then that child can be smacked under subsection (c) as long as parents tell the child “that is to prevent you behaving like that again“, rather than “that is to correct you for behaving like that“.

How silly is that? The Act which aimed to outlaw smacking still permits it yet those who want to change it are criticised for being pro-smacking.

The proponents of the Act got it wrong.

It’s bad law which permits smacking, providing its for the approved reason.

It should be changed to protect children, to protect families and to stop wasting police time.

There are more than enough crimes of violence, the effects of which aren’t transitory or trifling, which need their attention.


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