The Evil Of The Anti-Smacking Law Proved

Press Release: Thursday, 26 November 2009

Reformation  Testimony

Dr. Garnet Milne,

The Evil Of The Anti-Smacking Law Proved

An analysis of Peter Hughes’ review

The new law took away protection of a parent for disciplining his child. Formerly he was permitted by section 59 of the Crimes Act to discipline a child by using ‘reasonable force’. A review was recently tabled in Parliament by Peter Hughes, the CEO of the Ministry of Social Development, which is full of misinformation and misrepresentations of the truth.

The media have done a very poor job of reporting this review. The New Zealand Herald, New Zealand’s leading newspaper, is typical. It simply parrots the findings of the review and fails to do any analysis in the report itself. It asks no searching questions and offer no criticisms. However, the report does indeed raise questions and invite criticism.

Let us consider the report in light of the Herald’s sympathetic regurgitation of Hughes’ conclusions

The Herald reporter writes:

In the report, Ministry of Social Development head Peter Hughes said he could find no evidence that parents were being subject to “unnecessary state intervention” for occasionally lightly smacking their children

Notice that he can find no evidence. This is either a misrepresentation of the facts, or Hughes is blind to the evidence, for he gives the evidence himself in his report. He acknowledges that there have been 20 reports ‘of smacking passed to the police’ in the previous fifteen months. That represents 20 families who have had the indignity of the state’s agencies violate their home. Even one parent treated as a potential criminal because someone is aware he has smacked their children is bad enough. But here they admit 20 families have been so violated by unnecessary state intervention. The police went out and investigated these reports.

The Herald also reports ‘A review of the “anti-smacking” law has found no increase in the number of parents being investigated or prosecuted for light smacking’. This statement is akin to saying ‘there has been no increase in the number of home invasions this year’. There might have been 10  or 20 of 50, but there has been no increase. That is reassuring isn’t it? The fact is that since the legislation there has been a manifold increase compared to previously. This is a devious statement if ever there was one. See below where the data Hughes is using shows that since the legislation has been enacted reports of ‘light smacking’ have doubled. This doesn’t even take into account the police admission that their figures are just ‘estimates.’ Nor does it tell us just what these 3 reports of smacking were about prior to the law change. They were probably serious assaults, and it would be very interesting here to see if the police had doctored the results. Furthermore, how were these three reports to the police handled in the three months prior to the legislation? Hughes should have told us whether the police investigated them, since as the law stood then it was no offence to smack your child.

But notice that the Herald also reports the review to say that there has been a, significant rise in the reporting, apprehension, and prosecution of violent crime, including within families. But it says police and Child, Youth, and Family have not changed the way they respond to reports of light smacking or other minor acts of physical discipline.

An important issue arises from this statement. This ‘significant rise in violent crime’, ‘including within families,’ hides the cunning of the social engineers who sponsored and brought to pass this anti-smacking law.  Anything that is not considered ‘light smacking’ becomes ‘violent crime’. Remember that this anti-smacking legislation outlaws using any implements like a wooden spoon. A little tap on the fingers with a wooden spoon is considered a ‘violent crime’. It is not so long ago, before corporal punishment was banned in schools, leather straps and canes were used to punish children who needed it. And the object was to teach them a lesson so that they would not repeat their bad behaviour. But now you are a criminal if you use a cane or a leather strap or a wooden spoon. How much of this ‘significant rise’ of ‘violent crime’, involves children getting smacked with an implement to teach them a lesson? Hughes does not tell us, because he does not know.

People have gone to jail

Just last week a woman was jailed for smacking her child with a garden hose. She hit him because he wagged school. He reported his parents to the police and now the family is in disarray and may not recover from this interference. The judge in the case demonstrated his own ignorance of social history when he made this comment as reported in the Herald: ‘Judge Wade said the statue of Justice above London’s Old Bailey court carried the inscription: “Defend the Children of the Poor and Punish the Wrongdoer”.’ The judge went on to moralise how he was doing the same thing in this case.

Does he not realise that those who put that saying there no doubt had Psalm 82 in mind ‘Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy’ (Ps 82:3). The same Bible warrants corporal punishment. And when the saying was inscribed, corporal punishment was universally approved as a biblical and often necessary form of discipline?

This case also highlights another evil from the advent of this legislation, which is what happened in that situation. Children can threaten to report their parents to the police. I have heard firsthand accounts of this very thing happening. The review does not even mention this aspect where children now hold sway over their parents, and the parents lose their authority in their own home and over their own children.

100% increase in reporting parental smackers

What about this statement from the Herald?

A review of the “anti-smacking” law has found no increase in the number of parents being investigated or prosecuted for light smacking.

The legislation has only been enacted for a year so how could there be an increase reported, especially when it comes to light smacking? The fact is that there used to be no investigations or prosecutions for light smacking. So when either occurs now, that is at least 100% increase. Let the police give us hard data that when someone was reported as lightly smacking their child prior to the law that parent was investigated at all.

Another misrepresentation of the facts

The review also says that:

police and Child, Youth, and Family have not changed the way they respond to reports of light smacking or other minor acts of physical discipline.

This too is a misrepresentation. The impression given is that government agency CYFS and the police used to respond to reports of light smacking or other ‘minor acts’ of physical discipline. The truth is that neither the police nor CYFS used to respond at all because parents once had the legal right to discipline their children. Now they investigate these reports because a new law requires them to do so.

Notice too that since child discipline has become assault the statistics have been skewed, for now the term ‘child assault’ incorporates any form of physical discipline. Anything the police consider not minor becomes assault on a child. The facts are that there was one prosecution by the police for smacking and 14 cases of minor discipline and 356 cases of ‘child assault’. A substantial part of the latter are cases where children have been disciplined. What Hughes should have investigated was how many of these 356 cases would have been acquittals under the former section 59 of the Crimes Act which protected parents. He does not even mention this obvious comparison.

A Further misrepresentation – ‘inconsequential smacks’

The Herald writes Hughes said in his report:

he was satisfied that none of the prosecutions involved “inconsequential” smacks, with the victim being punched, slapped, or hit multiple times on various parts of the body in most cases.

Notice here that Mr Hughes becomes the authority on what constitutes an ‘inconsequential smack’. And he plainly distinguishes several hits with a strap or a slap with the hand from and ‘inconsequential smack’. This is proof positive that this report is a farce – a joke, but which is playing with the lives of decent New Zealanders and New Zealand families. Why does ‘hit multiple times’ become different than multiple inconsequential smacks?

And just a note about ‘inconsequential smacks’!. While he was in opposition, John Key devised this phrase with his party being whipped to vote en block, for this Labour/Green legislation to criminalise parents. He assured everyone that an inconsequential smack would not invoke the law. But notice what this means. It means that you cannot smack your child once or several times to change their behaviour. This is specifically excluded from the legislation. A parent should expect consequences from discipline, or it is unnecessary. To put it another way, an ‘inconsequential’ smack is cruel and evil because the parent is smacking the child without any reason or intended consequence.

What about this misleading statement?

The data does not suggest parents are being subject to more attention from the New Zealand police in terms of responses to light smacking.

Again this is misinformation of the worst sort. The implication here is that once the New Zealand police used to give some attention to ‘light smacking’. The facts are that the police never bothered themselves by interfering with a parent’s right to smack their child. So this statement is meaningless. Obviously the police are paying a lot more attention responding to light smacking as the statistics demonstrate, the statistics Hughes uses in his report. In the past 15 months the police had investigated 20 reports of smacking. Hughes can give no annual stats prior to that because there weren’t any. So the correct statement should be, police involvement in parental discipline when parents use a light smack has skyrocketed from nil to 20, and this does not take into account verbal warnings given by police and not reported. The bill became law in June 2007. The term ‘light smacking’ or the use of ‘inconsequential’ was not part of the legal vocabulary for the police to respond to. To introduce figures concerning ‘light smacking’ before the institution of the law is to misuse statistics in the worst possible manner.

A confession that he does not have all the data to support his whitewash of bad law

The report also confesses that:

The available data does not allow me[Hughes]to conclusively discount the possibility that there may have been isolated cases where practice was different.

In other words Hughes is admitting that children may have been ‘subject to unnecessary state intervention for occasional lightly smacking their children’.  We have already exposed this as false since there were 20 reports of precisely this thing happening. And parents have been prosecuted for smacking and I am aware of one case in Nelson where the accused was put through the ringer only to have the case dismissed in court. Just think of the trauma this must have on a loving parent who is trying to bring his children up correctly.

Hughes says that data from the police does not ‘provide evidence of unwarranted investigation or prosecution for the light smacking of children’. This too is a plain misrepresentation since police have taken prosecutions which have been dismissed. This must mean that their intervention and prosecution was unwarranted. Also notice that Hughes never went to one parent who had been investigated or prosecuted and asked his view of the situation. He is just blindly parroting what he has been told by the police who are hardly going to put themselves in a bad light.

Flawed data

Hughes also admits in his review that the government agencies do not distinguish different types of violence on children when they are reported. This is an admission that Hughes is using data which is next to useless to decide whether an intervention was warranted or not: ‘Concerns are not coded or classified by the type of abuse at the point of notification to CYFS’

He also admits that other government agencies might have gotten involved and he does nothing to try and evaluate what happened in such cases:

Cases which were not referred to a front line social worker may still have been the subject of further action. This includes the provision of advice or the referral of the family to another agency in order that assistance could be provided.

Yet Hughes makes sweeping statements about how there was no undue interference of families as a result of this new law. Why does Hughes not admit that not only have other agencies interfered with families, but that primary school children are out of control, and that the high crime rate among teens and younger is evidence of a wide spread lack of discipline in the home and in society.

110,000 notifications in a population of 4 million

If you see me smacking my child and you report me to the police or CYPS I become part of the statistics of ‘substantiated cases’ of family violence. In 2008/2009 there were over 110,000 notifications and 2855 ‘substantiated cases’. Later he admits,

Advice, or assistance from other agencies, will have been provided to many of the families who were the subject of notifications that did not proceed to an investigation.

In sifting through these no doubt many a family had strangers from government departments intruding into their families and lives. Hughes admits that the rate of increase of notifications had ‘risen markedly since 2007’.  In fact they had risen from 89000 to 110000. This huge jump occurs after the anti-smacking law came into force.

Police guessing becomes basis of Hughes’ conclusions

Remember that Hughes admits that the police are only guessing how many smacking cases were reported to them: ‘They (the police) have analysed offender data to estimate which type of events are most likely to include a section 59 type issue’. Notice they are only estimating or guessing and do not have the information in their records to give any accurate data.

In his Table 2, Hughes reports that the police claim that violence against children by parents, in the three months prior to the anti-smacking law coming into force, involved a total of 95 cases. In the five periods after it became law they jumped from 95 to 111, 288,258,279 and 127 respectively. These are dramatic increases. He does not give us data for the whole year prior to the anti-smacking law because no doubt it would highlight even more the dramatic jump in police involvement. The police even claim that they received 3 reports of smacking in the three months prior to the law taking effect, but averaged out for the next 5 periods  7.2 per period –  well over a 100% increase. Just think how the 36 families and parents who were investigated by the police felt about it. Surely Hughes is talking nonsense when he claims that there was no undue interference. He says that there is no discernable trend, while I have shown that there is an obvious doubling of reports, if these police ‘estimates’ are accurate. Hughes appears to have deliberately ignored these facts. Did they not fit his preconceived views that the anti-smacking bill was good law? That is a possible explanation.

The police claim that only 1 parent was prosecuted for smacking. Even one is one too many. But notice that other minor acts of physical discipline amounted to 14. All of these were unwarranted prosecutions if the discipline was only minor. The parents were merely following the biblical injunction to spare rod and spoil the child (See Proverbs 13:24, 22:15).

The level of New Zealand family violations would become 1400 families in the US

14 prosecutions for smacking in New Zealand would transform into 1400 prosecutions in a place like the United States. And this takes no account of the ‘warnings’, mandatory counselling or other state interventions into families.

Moreover, reporting on what police call serious assaults has jumped from an average of around 850 in the previous two years to an average of 1326 in 2007 and 2008. This again is a massive increase in reporting. And remember a serious assault is classed as hitting someone with a rod or strap. No doubt there were some examples of extreme and unwarranted violence against children, but it is equally true that the statistics hide corporal punishment of children given in an appropriate and wise manner by loving parents.

Shipping containers becoming prisons

There is no doubt that New Zealand is a violent society. Our prisons are full and we are building new ones out of shipping containers to house new criminals. Added to this the courts are weak and controlled by liberal judges who hand out pathetic sentences, meaning that criminals are released back into the community far more quickly than is the case in many other countries similar to New Zealand.

This increase in violence has occurred since schools were prohibited from using corporal punishment, and there is evidence that atrocious behaviour at school, in the home, vandalism against property and crime generally increases every year. The government of the day, aided and abetted by the opposition (National) and who have since become the government, has introduced a law which criminalises parents, has the police investigate if a child is seen being smacked in a supermarket or at home, and has enabled rebellious children to threaten their parents with police involvement if they are given, or even threatened with, corporal punishment. We can no longer legally smack our children with hand or implement to correct or to cause a consequence of improved behaviour.

86% in a referendum

A recent referendum on this subject showed that an overwhelming 86% of voters wanted this legislation repealed and parents no longer criminalised. John Key and the National government have ignored the desire of the people. This demonstrates that New Zealanders are willing to vote into government politicians who are not family-friendly, have no regard for biblical morality and who are quite happy to have government agencies interfering in the lives of  decent New Zealanders who are bringing up their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. And they try and claim that they are a conservative and ‘right wing’ party. All they are conserving is the social engineering of the former government they tried to deride as a nanny-state. Surely John Key is just Helen Clark in drag.

We must obey God rather than man

I know that many parents continue to smack their children and continue to use a physical rod or implement to teach the lesson which needs to be learnt. And genuine Christians will not capitulate to the social engineering this kind of evil legislation represents. As Christians we obey the Word of God before any government or official. When the authorities ordered the apostles not to preach the whole counsel of God, they responded ‘We ought to obey God rather than men’ (Acts 5:29). To force a Christian to not bring up his child in the way he should go (Proverbs 22:6) is an act of tyranny. This government is, therefore, tyrannical.

Many government agents including the police, who are called upon to enforce this law, believe the law to be wrong. And no doubt many police hit their own children if needed. I call upon all these men and woman to stand up and say that you will not criminalise or investigate cases of parental discipline which were deemed acceptable prior to June 2007. If you had the courage to do this, the government would be forced to change its mind and repeal this godless legislation. The police union would be doing all New Zealanders a great favour if they took the lead in this. Any human being who fails to do good in defiance of a tyrannical government, when he has the opportunity to do so, becomes just as culpable as that government. And God will hold him accountable. It is a biblical principle that the moral Law, the Ten Commandments’, lays an obligation on all, not only to not do what God prohibits, but also to positively perform its opposite. When we are told not to kill (Exodus 20:13), we are to do everything in our power for the well-being of our neighbour just as surely as we are prohibited from thrusting a knife into his heart. We are to do this in the context of our respective callings.

We also know that there are many in the National Party caucus, who disagree with the anti-smacking law and yet they voted for it in parliament. This is unforgivably hypocritical, and MPs should have the courage to come out and acknowledge that they think the law is wrong, confess their cowardliness – and then should do something about it. That this hypocritical voting practice could occur demonstrates none to subtly that our system of government is flawed and corrupt. We can only pray that God will raise up truly godly political leaders who will honour Him in all their duties. New Zealand will reap the whirlwind of this post-‘enlightenment’ liberalism and we will become even more unsafe as a society than we already are. The failure to adequately discipline children at school and at home will make this a certainty. Man remains a fallen creature as all the evidence proves.

Dr. Garnet Milne.

The full review by Peter Hughes can be found here.



2 responses to “The Evil Of The Anti-Smacking Law Proved”

  1. Thanks for this – Well Said – Up on;

    Equal Parenting @ Ration Shed


    Onward – Together – Jim

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