A smack or time out for correction should not be a crime

A smack or time out for correction should not be a crime

Kiwi Party Press Release 28 July 2009

The Referendum about the so called “anti-smacking” law (the name which Sue Bradford herself originally gave to her Bill) is really about how children should be corrected according to former MP & now President of the Kiwi Party Gordon Copeland.

Smacking and taking a child to time out are now criminal acts in New Zealand’ said Mr Copeland. “But only when they are used for the purpose of correction that is to rebuke,  in order to improve a child’s behaviour”.

“At the heart of this debate therefore there are really two questions.
Firstly do children need to be corrected?”

“Most of us would answer this question with an emphatic “yes”. However  some would just as emphatically answer “no” because they believe that children are  born virtuous and will automatically, as if by instinct, grow up to become unselfish & loving adults!  I believe, with the wisdom of the ages, that  both children & and adults need to be corrected.”

“Secondly should parents be permitted by law to smack or take their children to time out as part of good & loving parenting?”

“I believe that the answer to this question is also yes. Note that, consistent with the Referendum question, the qualification is that we are here talking about these correction techniques used by good parents. I am not saying that hitting with a jug cord or locking a child in a dark room are acceptable correction techniques, because they are not! Those are the actions of bad parents who need to be corrected (there’s that word again) by the law of the land”.

“Are we capable of making that distinction clear in law? Of course we are and we should. The training, education and correction of children, accompanied by large lashings of love & good fun, are the central tasks of parenting. Simply stated that is what good parents do!”

“When it comes to correction parents should have the freedom, under the law, to use a variety of ways to achieve the outcome which they seek, namely an improvement in behaviour, in ways which are appropriate to the circumstances & age of the child. This includes appropriate verbal correction, smacking, timeout and as the child grows older, grounding & the loss of privileges. Parenting on a day by day basis is never one dimensional.”

“I believe that these decisions must be made by parents and by parents alone! The State has no role to play and it is wrong for politicians to outlaw smacking and the use of time out in these circumstances. They have no mandate to do so. This matter was not widely raised in the 2005 Elections.  The issue made its way onto the floor of Parliament through a private Members Bill.”

“The claim that smacking and time out should be criminalised to bring the correction of children into line with the correction of adults is a fallacy.”

“We correct adults through fines, community service and prison sentences but none of these apply to children for the simple reason that they are children! The law always has & always will make that distinction.”

“I’m delighted that there is to be a Referendum on this issue and the question “Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand” is crystal clear. Let’s use the opportunity to deliver a message to the Beehive which politicians will ignore at their peril because this issue really is for the sake of our children, our grandchildren & all generations to come.”

Gordon Copeland is a former MP who left United Future to become an Independent because of his strong opposition to the criminalisation of smacking and time out for the purposes of correcting children.
Phone 04 388 9805
Cell 027 472 6998


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