Dad who smacked loses son
Katie Wylie and Nelson Mail – The Press | Saturday, 15 November 2008

A Christchurch man has lost custody of his young son despite his trial on assault charges being abandoned.

Rowan James Flynn, 53, was this week scheduled to stand trial in Nelson on five charges of assaulting his 12-year-old son, then aged 11.

He also faced one charge of assaulting a female and two charges of leaving a child under 14 without reasonable supervision.

Nelson District Court Judge Tony Zohrab discharged Flynn after the Crown offered no evidence on the assault charges.

Prosecutor Janine Bonifant said the decision did not mean the Crown believed the alleged offences had not taken place.

Flynn, an unemployed father-of-four now living in a caravan in Christchurch, was charged after his son called the police from the family’s Nelson home.

He had allegedly hit his son about five times on the bottom with a wooden spoon after he was disobedient, and he said it was a “tiny issue” that blew up.

He said he had also “clipped” his son around the face but, as a Christian, believed the Bible condoned his disciplinary methods.

“I smacked him but I never assaulted him,” he said. “When he was in a defiant mood there was just no dealing with him.

“I do very strongly believe in smacking children as a means of correction.”

Yesterday, he learned that Child, Youth and Family (CYF) has interim custody of his son and that he may not contact the boy, who is now living with Flynn’s sister in Nelson, without consent and supervision.

“It’s absolutely disgusting. There was no need for it and it is just a clear and blatant abuse of (CYF’s) powers,” he said.

“Obviously, he doesn’t like getting his bum smacked, but that’s the whole point. I do not pose a threat to him at all.”

CYF general manager of operations, Lorraine Williams, said: “While criminal charges may have been dropped, in this case, on the balance of probabilities, we still have concerns for the boy’s safety and will continue to work with his family for a successful outcome.”

Nelson police have defended their decision to prosecute Flynn as correct and in the public interest.

Family First New Zealand national director Bob McCoskrie said the withdrawal of the charges was proof that good parents trying to deal with unacceptable behaviour from their children were being dragged before the courts without evidence to back up the charges.

“This case adds to our growing list of parents who are either being convicted, charged or investigated for attempting to correct their children in the most appropriate and effective way,” he said.

Children’s Commissioner Cindy Kiro said Flynn’s methods of discipline were not justified.

“It doesn’t wash, frankly. There is no justification for violence against children and people who think that there is basically need to learn some new techniques,” she said.

“They need to learn that in fact violence begets violence and this is no way to treat children.”


4 responses to “Dad who smacked loses son”

  1. Swedish parents have been experiencing this kind of administrative violence since the anti-smacking law was passed in 1979. I presented a fat folder with Swedish case law as evidence to the terror that afflicts normal, loving, responsible parents in Sweden.

    But instead of heeding and accepting the facts that I as a lawyer and honest, scientific researcher shared with the NZ-viewers of the Susan Wood interview, jail-bird Sue was very happy to say “Her credibility in Sweden is not very high, to be polite about it”. Then she went on to Wellington to say that “it was very hard to get clarity in a debate like that”. Sue Bradford’s only interest was to see that other New Zealanders should be dragged before the courts and given criminal records like she herself has.

    Sue B tried to misinform the NZ-public – she succeeded in fooling 113 parliamentarians, who one would expect to be more intelligent than the average man on the street. Fortunately 86 % of the NZ population were and still are against her law, not only because I informed you that it would have just the consequences that father in this article now suffers, but also because they have pure commonsense.

  2. Thanks for your comments Ruby and all you did to try and help us to keep Section 59 in New Zealand. It is a reflection on the government and the select committee that, it would seem, they did not take into consideration your fat folder of information.

  3. Wish to remain anonymous Avatar
    Wish to remain anonymous

    I do not in principal support the anti smacking laws, however I absolutely do not condone violence towards children on any level. Unfortunately, not all parents are normal, loving and responsible. Even more unfortunate is that this is one of those cases. I know this family, I know that the man involved is very capable of losing control of his temper. I also know that as a result of this ‘smack’ the boy was very badly bruised. I know that this is not the first time and if he gets his way, won’t be the last. The fathers parenting skills are sadly lacking and the boy basically had to take care of himself in the family home. I have been reading what the father has been saying to the media and have to give him credit for his manipulation of the story and ability to garner public support. Unfortunately it is only the perpetrator that has spoken publicly and thus the reporting has been very one sided. I am quite sickened when I read letters of support as this is the kind of man that these laws were designed to protect children from.

  4. ttwinkle Avatar

    It is interesting to hear of further incidents of CYFs acting as ‘God’ despite the police or the court system making their decision in a scientific manner.. I have seen and experienced this behaviour from CYFs several times personally..

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