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    Home discipline still a hot topic

    By HEF Admin | October 24, 2008

    Home discipline still a hot topic

    4:00AM Saturday Oct 25, 2008
    By Carroll du Chateau

    In a year when the morals and ethics of our political parties seem at an all-time low, voters are focused on policies sidling into our sitting rooms.

    Many morally contentious issues are designated conscience votes by political parties, meaning their members do not have to vote along party lines.

    The anti-smacking bill proposed by Sue Bradford of the Greens and finally cobbled together by Helen Clark and John Key started out as a conscience issue and ended up as a party vote for Labour, National and the Greens, who voted 100 per cent in favour.

    Meanwhile, there was overwhelming opposition to the bill out in the community. Parents do not want the Government telling them how to parent. They say loss of discipline at home contributes to bad behaviour, out-of-control youngsters and, eventually, rising crime.

    Many say the Government is sending the wrong message to the young.

    “The idea that smacking should be against the law is ridiculous,” says Rodney Hide who, as leader of Act, stands for individual freedom and personal responsibility. “The fact that a small smack on the bottom should be up there with bashing kids with a pipe offends me.”

    Mr Hide’s position is echoed by Richard Lewis of the Family Party (a Christian offshoot of last election’s Destiny Party) and Bob McCroskie of Family First. While Mr McCroskie’s organisation is a pressure group rather than a political party, it has signed on as a Third Party and is spending a chunk of its allocated $120,000 to push family values – and undermine this legislation.

    Mr McCroskie says the law sends an underlying message that parents aren’t really in charge. “Kids are saying, ‘You can’t tell me what to do!’ We need to establish parenting within the law and parents don’t feel they’ve got it.” He talks about a consistent message (feeding through legislation) that we don’t rate parents.

    “We don’t recognise parenting as a career choice. The message is, ‘If you want to be a contributing member of society, get yourself a real job.”‘

    He is talking about paid parental leave, 20 hours’ free childcare and all the other measures designed to make it easy for mothers to go back to work.

    Mr Lewis insists the old legal defence in smacking cases “never protected anyone from child abuse. I think this bill exposes parents unfairly. There are reports of children turning up to school with innocent scrapes and bruises and being asked, ‘Did your parents do it?”‘

    Sue Bradford fervently disagrees. A mother of five, she insists she is a staunch defender of the family. “It’s the ability to beat your children that undermines the family.” She also defends the Parental Notification Bill, which allows teenagers under 16 to have abortions without their parents being aware of them. “My belief is that a woman’s body is her own.” ‘

    Less high-profile is the ethical issue around the refusal to pay parents and family caring for disabled children and adults, while professional carers qualify for funding. The practice was challenged in a tribunal hearing brought against the Ministry of Health by the Director of Human Rights Proceedings on grounds of discrimination against parents and families.

    While all parties except Labour express concern at the unfairness of the law, only the smaller parties are prepared to change it. United Future would introduce a caregivers’ allowance; the Maori Party would ensure disabled people and whanau could access support; the Progressives favour funding “as fiscal conditions permit”.

    Labour, meanwhile, is committed to steering away from the issue, instead pledging to provide $37 million on extra daycare and respite services, family caregiver support, extra funding for home-based support services plus wider criteria for the DPB so low-income couples and sole parents could receive extra support to care for sick or disabled children.

    One ethical area where the larger parties are taking a risk is with gangs. Gangs are seen as an integral part of our social fabric and stopping people gathering together breaches ethical boundaries. The proliferation of P has Labour and National talking about cracking down on gangs – again putting them out of step with Christian parties who claim the Government should focus on eliminating drug dealing rather than the gangs themselves.

    Another matter bothering Mr Hide is the issue of self-defence “Some things are worse than being charged: A, being a wimp and B, being dead.”

    * Since the law came in

    Sixteen months after the law change in May last year, eight parents have been prosecuted. One received diversion, one was discharged without conviction and six cases are yet to be resolved.

    This, says John Key, supports the view that the law is being well administered by police.

    A petition for a referendum on the legislation, which asked the question “Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?” gained 390,000 signatures, 310,000 of which were judged valid. To trigger a referendum, 10 per cent of registered voters (285,000) need to sign it. The referendum will be held next year.

    NOTE:

    From a link above:

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/image.cfm?c_id=1&gal_objectid=10539387&gallery_id=102944

    National: Anti-smacking legislation to stay.

    Topics: News Media/Press Releases | 1 Comment »

    One Response to “Home discipline still a hot topic”

    1. Mr Dennis Says:
      October 27th, 2008 at 8:00 am

      Good post. One minor correction:
      “Richard Lewis of the Family Party (a Christian offshoot of last election’s Destiny Party)”

      The Family Party is not an offshoot of the Destiny Party, rather it is a broad-based Christian party formed by a range of people from many different churches, and including former members of Christian Heritage, the Destiny Party, and United Future. Of our 14 candidates, only two attend Destiny Church, the rest attend a wide range of other denominations. The idea that we are a rebranded Destiny Party is however a common misconception.

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