2 – 26 July 2007

Dear Editor,

I the undersigned, Ruby Harrold-Claesson, attorney-at-law in Gothenburg, Sweden and president of the NCHR (www.nkmr.org) am hereby sending you a manuscript “The Empresses’ new clothes or Smacking: Those Kiwis must be crazy!”

Very truly yours
Ruby Harrold-Claesson
Attorney at law
President or the NKMR/NCHR

The Empresses’ new clothes or Smacking: Those Kiwis must be crazy!

One year ago, I travelled 36 hours from Gothenburg, Sweden to Auckland at the invitation of the Section 59 Coalition. I came to testify at the Parliamentary hearing on the private member’s Bill that proposed a repeal of Section 59 of the Crimes Act and to inform – and to warn – the general New Zealand public of the effects of the Swedish smacking ban.

When I left New Zealand after my two-week stay, I was hopeful that the bill would not pass because over 80 % of the population was not in favour of it. I had also thought that New Zealand was a democratic country that respected the will of the people. My warnings were backed by my presentation of 30 of the court cases that I have collected for my coming PhD thesis on the Swedish anti-smacking law. These show how parents were prosecuted and sentenced to fines or prison and their children were taken into forcible public care and separated from them and placed in foster homes. But it all fell on deaf parliamentarian ears. My hopes were finally crumbled in May when the compromise was reached and the bill became law because the MPs were forced to vote against their consciences. Fortunately, a few MPs with high integrity refused to vote for the law: one even resigned from his Party because of it.

New Zealand has made a historical mistake by following Sweden’s example to ban smacking. New Zealand’s law has gone even farther than Sweden’s in that it prescribes criminal penalties for smacking parents and the Children’s Commissioner cheered – just like the crowds did at the Emperor’s new clothes. The Swedish law doesn’t prescribe criminal penalties, but Parliament was informed that the new law would be sanctioned by the provisions of the Penal Law. And so it has been.

Section 59 was good legislation and as such it should not have been tampered with in any way. Sue Bradford sent three strong messages:

1 – She knows best – better than the legally educated judges on whose discretion it lies to decide what is “reasonable force”;
2 – She does not trust the judgement of the courts;
3 – She thinks previous rulings were wrong.

Remember, the anti-smacking law was not delivered to mankind on slabs of stone as one of the Ten Commandments. It was imposed by the Swedish social engineers. So, the fact that Sweden repealed its equivalent to Section 59 does not justify New Zealand repealing its own. In a TV-debate on July 19, 2006, Sue Bradford said that it was irrelevant to discuss Sweden. However, it is quite obvious that no one can discuss imposing a smacking-ban on a country without taking Sweden – the pioneer – into account. Also, the British Parliament engaged in similar legislative procedure in 2004. It resulted in the Lester amendment, which is called the “fudge”. The Lester amendment is deemed as a progression towards a total smacking ban. However, England is facing a re-think. In an article in The People, July 8, 2007, Tory children’s minister Tim Loughton said: “The present law is unworkable nonsense – it just criminalises parents. We need to clearly define the line between chastisement by parents as they see fit and violence towards children.”

While the Swedish parliament may have been in good faith in repealing their equivalent to Section 59 and consequently passing the anti-smacking law despite the warnings of important judicial organs, the NZ parliament cannot be deemed to have acted in good faith. Both Dr Bob Larzelere and I informed them of the disastrous consequences that the Swedish anti-smacking law has had for children, families and the society as a whole.

The NZ anti-smacking lobby claims that repealing Section 59 will stop child abuse. They also claim that Swedish children are safer and that only one child every four years dies from abuse in Sweden. These claims have been proven mendacious so, imposing a smacking ban with reference to Sweden’s “low mortality rates” shows that they have failed to note that homicide rates indicate only the extreme cases of child abuse. How often does one hear of ‘death by a smack’? Homicide rates are not the same as rates of supposed harm by smacking. And, the repeal of Section 59 of the Crimes Act will not change the situation for children who are subject to abuse.

Not even the blanket prohibition against smacking that was passed in 1979 has prevented child abuse in Sweden. In fact, assistant professor Hans Temrin at the University of Stockholm has shown in two separate press releases, the latter of which was published in May 2006, that 258 children in Sweden died at the hands of their parents or guardians between 1965 – 1999. Incidentally, those figures do not include children who have died while in state care, for e.g. Daniel Sigström (1992) or Felicia Pettersson (2005). A little reminder: in Sweden, in January – February 2006 three children under the age of ten died at the hands of their parents and in May a 12 yr-old girl was murdered by her step-father.

You may wonder what the reason is for my involvement in the New Zealand smacking debate. Well, Sweden was the first country to ban smacking so it is cited as the model to follow. In my capacity as a lawyer in Sweden, researcher on the Swedish anti-smacking law (PhD) and president of the Nordic Committee for Human Rights (NCHR) for the Protection of Family Rights in the Nordic countries , I have close-up experiences of the that law. I find that Sweden is the model to avoid – at all costs.

Parenting vs child abuse
Here’s why:
1 – society accepts that parenting, by definition, embraces a corrective role. Sweden, that prides itself in being the first country in the world to abolish physical punishment – smacking – of children, removed the plea of “reasonable force” in 1957. Sweden has thereafter taken further steps to “protect children” from “abuse” and in 1979 the “Anti-smacking law”, which was promulgated in the Parent and guardianship Code, came into force. Smacking was equated to “child abuse”. Several state organs that gave opinions warned against the law. They invoked the indoctrination to violence that children meet in films and in the media and also the administrative violence that children and their parents would be subjected to because of the totalitarian nature of the law.

Despite the fact that Parliament had been informed that the law would be sanctioned by the provisions of the Criminal Code, the information given in the English summary promised that no parents would be prosecuted because of the law. This was reiterated in similar words to the international audience in Paris when the law was presented to the world stating that the law does “not represent an extension of the punishable area”. However, the first prosecution for minor incidents occurred already in 1978 – prior to the passing of the law. Swedish statistics published in February 2007 show that there has been a 14% increase in child abuse despite the smacking ban, with 11 000 reports of “child abuse” per year in Sweden. There are claims that “only” ten percent are prosecuted. Yet, the Swedish and New Zealand lobbies and their experts and statisticians claim that the Swedish smacking ban is extremely successful, and that polls show that only a minor percent of Swedish parents smack their children.

With 11 000 reports of “child abuse” per year and “only” ten percent being prosecuted there seemed to be a need for more stringent laws to guarantee the success of the Swedish smacking ban. So, in 1998 – 2000 the law “gross disturbance of the peace” – which initially was drafted to protect battered women – came to include child smacking. Since then parents are being prosecuted for “gross disturbance of the peace” and their children are taken into compulsory care. The difference between being prosecuted for “child abuse” and “gross disturbance of the peace” is that in the former one had to present times and dates, but in the latter the charges do not have to be substantiated.

Smacking = child abuse?
2 – In my capacity as legal practitioner in Sweden , researcher and president of the “Nordic Committee for Human Rights (NCHR) for the Protection of Family Rights in the Nordic countries”, I have seen the effects of the anti-smacking law on children and their families. Because of my first-hand knowledge of the Swedish system, I was approached by two persons from separate parts of NZ who had found the NCHR’s web site and I have now been engaged in the Section 59 debate for the past two years. I made both a written and an oral submission to the Section 59 Select Committee. My oral submission was accompanied by 32 case summaries in English and 30 photocopies of verdicts, summary judgements and newspaper or other articles in Swedish.

Discipline in Sweden has become a word that is despised and equated with child abuse. It is a very extremist view and one that should be examined carefully. In his book “Basic theory of Psychoanalysis” Robert Waelder wrote the following:
“… a psychoanalytic approach to upbringing does not mean that children should get what they desire when they desire something; instead it demands an attempt to find a suitable balance between satisfaction and disappointment in every situation … we have to find the optimal combination of two equally important but partly opposite ingredients for a healthy development, namely, love and discipline; to love without spoiling and to discipline without injuring.”

In his paper “Combining Love and Limits in Authoritative Parenting: A Conditional Sequence Model of Disciplinary Responses” published in 2001, Dr. Bob Larzelere finds that several research programs have shown that optimal parenting combines love and limits – not pitting both ingredients against each other.

UN and Unicef Directives
In May 2006, former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, who is married to a Swedish woman, thus his interest to promote the Swedish agenda, issued directives that every country in the world should impose anti-smacking laws. Kofi Annan, also known for his non-intervention in the Rwandan massacre, has completely ignored the gross injustices being perpetrated because of the Swedish anti-smacking law; that thousands of families have been – and are being – destroyed by unnecessary state interventions and that parents are afraid to correct their children. To implement his directives, Kofi Annan appointed the Portuguese professor, Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, to lobby all governments in the world “to offer children the same protection under the law that adults have”. This is a most interesting phrase, because UNCROC in its preamble stipulates for the protection of children as follows: “the child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth”. Sweden fails grossly to meet up to that requirement for ca 30 000 unborn children per year. The New Zealand figures are 18 000.

The ideological “child protection” advocates claim that they are acting in the child’s best interest when they call for a total ban on smacking and heavy penalties for smacking parents. However, they fail to realise that they are the very ones who are exposing children to severe abuse. Normally, the vast majority of parents talk to their children and try to make them comply. A smack is usually administered when words and admonition have failed to have the desired effect. So, if a child is smacked for something that he/she did or failed to do, subjecting the parents to police investigations and subsequent social investigations and separating the child from its parents will be double punishment for the child. This will not only expose the child to severe trauma but also damage the child’s relations to its parents – maybe permanently. So, those Kiwis (MPs) must be crazy!

Ruby Harrold-Claesson, Lawyer, President of the NCHR/NKMR.

1 Larzelere’s parting comments http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO0705/S00223.htm
2 Was the Lester amendment really necessary? By Kay Ma. Dissertation 2005.

3 Hans Temrin “Styvföräldrar misshandlar oftare barn till döds”, DN May 12, 2006
4 Kathryn Rich claimed that I am “a fruit loop”. See Prof Jacob Sundberg’s letter to Kathryn Rich http://familyintegrity.blogspot.com/2007/05/letter-to-kathryn-rich-from-jacob-wf.html and his letter to Deborah Coddington, http://www.nkmr.org/english/coddington_letter.htm

5 14% Increase in Child Abuse despite Swedish Smacking Ban, http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO0702/S00378.htm
6 “Anti-smack campaign fails to pack a punch” quotation, Christian Diesen. Note in the article that Diesen wants more parents to be prosecuted.
7 I am not a member of the Swedish Bar Association, a fact that Sue Bradford and her “child protection” lobby, unknowledgeable of the Swedish system, tried to make a big affair of in their attempts to discredit me because of my criticism of the Swedish anti-smacking law. Cf Note 4 supra.

8 Waelder, R IUP, New York, 1964
9 http://parenthood.library.wisc.edu/Larzelere/Larzelere.html
10 European Report: Mummy and Daddy spare rod – or go to court http://www.corpun.com/eud00002.htm

21 July 07 – NZCPR Weekly – Breaking Through

NZCPR Weekly

21 July 07
NZCPR Weekly – Topic: Welfare
Breaking Through
Muriel Newman

Breaking Through

Early last year a little boy was brutally beaten to death by his mother and her partner:

“The child’s blood was also found throughout the house. In two rooms – the living area and his bedroom – the blood had splattered so high it hit the ceiling”.

Graphic photographs taken during his post-mortem showed three year old Ngatikaura Ngati’s body had suffered repeated beatings. His left arm was so badly damaged that it had swollen to twice its normal size. When pathologists cut it open they found all the tissue had already died from the beatings he had suffered.

The investigating Police Officer Richard Middleton said, “This is as bad as anything I have seen on a child or any human”.

Ngati’s mother had given him to childless relatives when he was a month old. They raised him as their own. But shortly after his third birthday, his mother wanted him back: “she was claiming a benefit for more children than were living with her and she was afraid of being caught out”. Three months later, the little boy was dead. (See From Happiness to Hell, Herald>>>) http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/1/story.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10439204

This shocking case highlights the malevolent nature of child abuse in New Zealand – a vicious crime committed by a mother and her partner who were so hungry for benefit money that they placed their dependency on government welfare above the safety and happiness of their child.

For that reason, the second defendant in this case – and in most other child abuse cases in New Zealand – should be the State. The worst child abusers in this country are the government which has knowingly cemented in place social policies that create the environment for child abuse to flourish. Their social welfare policies lead to the disintegration of marriage, family and community as benefit recipients become hooked, realising that they are significantly better off if they stay single and on welfare.

Through unconditional state handouts to vulnerable women with children, whole communities have been created where the two-parent family has vanished, where work is rare or non-existent, and where social degradation – squalor, alcoholism, drugs, violence, crime – is commonplace.

Just last week, the Herald on Sunday reported on child abuse cases at Auckland’s Starship Hospital, stating that last year’s child abuse admissions were the worst on record. It also claimed that the figures for head injuries for Maori children are the highest in the world. (See Doctor Decries Staggering Level of Child Abuse>>>)http://www.nzherald.co.nz/category/story.cfm?c_id=41&objectid=10451548&pnum=0

Yet the Government’s response to this national crisis is a shameful silence.

In contrast, the Howard Government in Australia has invoked a state of emergency to deal with their child abuse crisis – which is at a level similar to ours. They have introduced controls on dysfunctional families that include compulsory health checks on all at-risk children, linking benefit payments to school attendance, and quarantining 50 per cent of welfare payments to ensure that funds are used for children’s welfare, not booze, drugs or gambling.

The opposition Labour Party, recognising the seriousness of the problem, has pledged to put in place even tougher measures if they become the government, withholding all welfare payments from families that do not do the right thing by their children.

New Zealand remains the only country in the world that has wide open access to the sole parent benefit. Here, girl can get pregnant as teenager and literally have a benefit income for life. She can remain on the Domestic Purposes Benefit just so long as she doesn’t work, doesn’t marry, and from time to time has another baby to keep her eligibility current.

Yet life on a benefit is the very worst incentive that any government could possibly dangle in front of vulnerable young girls as it creates a perilous home environment for their children. Maori girls in particular are susceptible to the government’s anti-marriage welfare ‘bait’ with figures from the Ministry of Social Development showing that Maori teenage parents are on a benefit at a rate of 85 per 1,000, more than eight times higher the non-Maori rate of 10 per 1,000.

Just last week the Ministry of Social Development released a report showing that the number of children living in financial hardship in New Zealand has – incredibly – almost doubled in two decades from 12% in 1982 to 23% in 2004, with sole parent households with children being by far the worst off. (see MSD Hardship Report>>>) http://www.cyf.govt.nz/documents/Child_death_from_maltreatment.pdf

That is why the government’s refusal to fundamentally reform welfare, in order to move sole parents off benefits into supported work and a decent life, borders on being criminally negligent.

In contrast to a situation here, politicians in the US took action over a decade ago: “The designers of welfare reform were concerned that prolonged welfare dependence had a negative effect on the development of children. Their goal was to disrupt intergenerational dependence by moving families with children off the welfare rolls through increased work and marriage… Ten years after welfare reform became the law those who have enjoyed the greatest benefits are the most disadvantaged single parents with the most significant barriers to employment. In particular, young, never-married mothers with low levels of education and young children”. (see The Impact of Welfare Reform by the Heritage Foundation>>>)http://www.heritage.org/Research/Welfare/tst071906a.cfm

Figures from Statistics NZ confirm the dramatic move in New Zealand away from childbearing within marriage. Historically, only around five percent of babies were born outside of marriage. But largely as a result of the introduction of the Domestic Purposes Benefit in the seventies, the trend changed and by 1990 the rate had increased to 35 percent. As of last year, 47 percent of all babies born in New Zealand were born outside of marriage, which means that almost a half of all newborns in this country are being born into family structures that put them at an increased risk of child abuse.

That is not to say that all children born into de-facto relationships will be harmed; of course they won’t. Nor that all sole parents do a bad job; on the contrary many do an exceptional job and raise great kids. But just as there are no guarantees that children raised in two-parent married families will be happy and safe, on the balance of probability married families represent the safest of all environments in which to raise children, with un-married families the most dangerous.

Encouraging marriage is the approach that has now been taken by legislators in the United States in order to improve the outlook for children. It is also the conclusion that has been reached in “Breakthrough Britain: Ending the Costs of Social Breakdown”, a new report produced by the British Conservative Party’s Social Justice Commission. This report, which builds on last year’s “Breakdown Britain”, finds that the breakdown of the two-parent family and the decline of marriage is at the heart of the collapse of values in British society. It proposes a number of strategies to strengthen families and encourage marriage through adjustments to the tax and benefit systems. (see Breakthrough Britain>>>)

The report also discusses the significant contribution made by the voluntary sector, which works at the coalface of social dysfunction, and it recommends that it be liberated from the domination of state control.

According to this week’s NZCPR Guest Commentator Peter Allen, who founded and headed the Prince of Wales Trust, the situation here in New Zealand is dire:

“During my eleven years of involvement with some of the country’s most complex young people I saw many valuable youth initiatives destroyed by the government’s youth policies and bureaucratic pressure. Unfortunately their loss is becoming increasingly apparent as we see more youth crime, assaults on elderly people, property damage, theft, drunken behaviour, increased drug abuse and more truancy from school than ever before”.

He goes on to warn, “This Government’s destructive social policies have created divisions between cultures, within families, and across communities, and until there is a full realisation that the problems are politically motivated – and the people of this country demand appropriate action – the situation will continue to deteriorate”. (To read Peter’s article “The Bureaucratic Destruction of Private Sector Youth Support Services” click the sidebar link>>>) http://www.nzcpr.com/guest59.htm

Peter is right. Many of the complex social problems that we face in New Zealand – like the dreadful child abuse crisis – are being caused by politically motivated government policy. But until the public demands action, there will be no breaking though and as sure as night follows day, more and more innocent children like little Ngatikura Ngati will die.

Poll: The poll this week asks whether you would favour the introduction of policies to encourage marriage in New Zealand.
To vote click here>>> http://www.nzcpr.com/polls.htm

[Comments received during the week on the column and the poll will be posted here>>>]

Last week’s poll asked: Should the welfare reform proposed by the Howard Government in Australia should be adopted in New Zealand?
Result: 96% said Yes and 4% said No.
You can read the hundreds of comments that were submitted by clicking here>>>. http://www.nzcpd.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=231

Housekeeping: Please feel free to forward this newsletter on to others who you think would be interested. A printer-friendly version is on the http://www.nzcpr.com website.

Don’t forget that we are always keen to consider publication of opinion pieces for the website Soapbox Series http://www.nzcpr.com/soapbox.htm – why not visit the page and send in your submission.

To contact Muriel about this week’s column please click here>>>. muriel@nzcpd.com

NZCPR Weekly is a free weekly newsletter by Dr Muriel Newman of the New Zealand Centre for Political Research, a web-based forum at http://www.nzcpr.com for the lively and dynamic exchange of political ideas. You can reach Muriel by phone on 09-434-3836, 021-800-111 or by post at PO Box 984 Whangarei.



EXCLUSIVE Human rights ‘farce’ faces axe
By Nigel Nelson
PARENTS who smack their children are likely to be spared the threat of jail under a Government rethink.

Mums and dads currently face up to five years in prison if they bruise or graze kids.

But outraged parents say the penalties – brought in two years ago under European human rights laws – are too tough.

They want the courts to distinguish between disciplining naughty kids and child abuse. Now the Government is to ask parents’ views over the summer after other surveys showed that two-thirds are in favour of disciplinary smacking. Tory children’s minister Tim Loughton said: “The present law is unworkable nonsense – it just criminalises parents.

“We need to clearly define the line between chastisement by parents as they see fit and violence towards children.” The current law allows “reasonable chastisement” but if a mark is made that could be treated as actual bodily harm.

Critics say that fails to recognise the difference between responsible parents and those who beat their kids black and blue.

The results of the Government survey will be announced by Schools Minister Andrew Adonis in the autumn when a law change will be considered.

Child protection organisations who want an outright ban on smacking will also be consulted…..

2 July 2007 – hbtoday – EDITORIAL – All feeling smack in checkout


EDITORIAL – All feeling smack in checkout

With two suspicious deaths of infants at the weekend the controversy over whether cabinet minister David Cunliffe smacked his child in a supermarket seems obscenely petty.

But therein lies the point.

Mr Cunliffe – who denies he “smacked” his child – and his family are distressed by the attention received from “Families First”, which has lobbied against the anti-smacking legislation.

And who could blame him?

His parenting methods – and, no doubt, those of all who have supported the anti-smacking legislation – have become hostage to politics. Such scrutiny, though unkind, is not surprising.

The law’s opponents would relish the chance to test the new law on one of its high-profile advocates. However, all parents are in the same uncomfortable position as Mr Cunliffe, who was in fact congratulated by Families First, which said he “did what any half-decent parent would have done in the circumstances”.
While the Government’s accommodation reached with National for its support of the bill exempted “inconsequential” events from prosecution, that level has yet to be determined.

And despite repeated assurances that good parents won’t be hauled before the courts, how can anyone know?

Is a small, corrective smack in a supermarket a forgivable “technical breach” or might it be eligible for prosecution if drawing a complaint or witnessed more than once?

How much discretion might police be allowed if the precautionary principle gives authority to finger-pointers and mischief makers (who appear to be the beneficiaries of the new law)?

The triviality of the Cunliffe affair seen beside the baby deaths – the importance of which it has all but eclipsed – is instructive because it underlines the worthlessness of sending messages with a prescriptive, intrusive law.

Most New Zealanders believe that not only the new law fails to honour its promise to protect the young but it will also hit the wrong targets.

Meanwhile the real problem will remain unaddressed.

Sue Bradford’s bill won endorsement from many disgusted at the level of child abuse in New Zealand and who rightly believed something needed to be done. However, instead of focusing on baby bashers and killers (collectivist ideology absolves individual wrongdoers by making everyone else accountable) Parliament found blanket disapproval was far more convenient and put all parents on notice that they had better be on their best behaviour.

So disconnected have our politicians become from their constituents that they just cannot understand why they have deeply offended so many – even when one of their own is used to make the point.

2 July 2007 – newstalkzb – MP in smacking controversy


MP in smacking controversy
2/07/2007 7:36:02

Opponents of the new anti-smacking law believe the actions of a Labour MP prove its stupidity.

There are claims Cabinet Minister David Cunliffe was spotted smacking his child at LynnMall shopping centre in Auckland, despite the fact the MP voted in favour of legislation repealing section 59 of the Crimes Act.

Independent MP Gordon Copeland was one of eight MPs to oppose the bill. He says Mr Cunliffe’s case highlights the pitfalls of the new law, which outlaws smacking unless it is to save a child from harm. Police have discretion to decide whether to prosecute.


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