Posts Tagged ‘Correction’

Pro-Spanking (Smacking) Studies May Have Global Effect

Saturday, January 9th, 2010

Pro-Spanking Studies May Have Global Effect

Thursday, 07 Jan 2010 11:11 AM

By: Theodore Kettle

Two recent analyses – one psychological, the other legal – may debunk lenient modern parenting the way the Climategate e-mail scandal has short circuited global warming alarmism.

A study entailing 2,600 interviews pertaining to corporal punishment, including the questioning of 179 teenagers about getting spanked and smacked by their parents, was conducted by Marjorie Gunnoe, professor of psychology at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Gunnoe’s findings, announced this week: “The claims made for not spanking children fail to hold up. They are not consistent with the data.”

Those who were physically disciplined performed better than those who weren’t in a whole series of categories, including school grades, an optimistic outlook on life, the willingness to perform volunteer work, and the ambition to attend college, Gunnoe found. And they performed no worse than those who weren’t spanked in areas like early sexual activity, getting into fights, and becoming depressed. She found little difference between the sexes or races.

Another study published in the Akron Law Review last year examined criminal records and found that children raised where a legal ban on parental corporal punishment is in effect are much more likely to be involved in crime.

A key focus of the work of Jason M. Fuller of the University of Akron Law School was Sweden, which 30 years ago became the first nation to impose a complete ban on physical discipline and is in many respects “an ideal laboratory to study spanking bans,” according to Fuller.

Since the spanking ban, child abuse rates in Sweden have exploded over 500 percent, according to police reports. Even just one year after the ban took effect, and after a massive government public education campaign, Fuller found that “not only were Swedish parents resorting to pushing, grabbing, and shoving more than U.S. parents, but they were also beating their children twice as often.”

After a decade of the ban, “rates of physical child abuse in Sweden had risen to three times the U.S. rate” and “from 1979 to 1994, Swedish children under seven endured an almost six-fold increase in physical abuse,” Fuller’s analysis revealed.

“Enlightened” parenting also seems to have produced increased violence later. “Swedish teen violence skyrocketed in the early 1990s, when children that had grown up entirely under the spanking ban first became teenagers,” Fuller noted. “Preadolescents and teenagers under fifteen started becoming even more violent toward their peers. By 1994, the number of youth criminal assaults had increased by six times the 1984 rate.”

Since Sweden, dozens of countries have banned parental corporal punishment, like Germany, Italy, and in 2007 New Zealand, where using force to correct children entails full criminal penalties, and where a mother cannot even legally take her child’s hand to bring him where he refuses to go.

The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, meanwhile, challenges laws permitting any physical punishment of children and has called on all governments in the world to prohibit every form of physical discipline, including within the family.

In the U.S., the National Association of Social Workers has declared that all physical punishment of children has harmful effects and should be stopped; social workers are being trained to advocate against physical discipline when they visit homes. And in 2007, San Francisco Bay area Assemblywoman Sally Lieber unsuccessfully proposed legislation imposing a California state ban on spanking children under the age of four.

Contrary to popular belief, the pediatrician and leftist political activist Dr. Benjamin Spock did not popularize parental leniency. In early editions of his famously bestselling book, “Baby and Child Care,” Spock did not rule out spanking, (although he did later); on the contrary, Spock called for “clarity and consistency of the parents’ leadership,” considered kindness and devotion to be a necessity for parents who spank, and believed that the inability to be firm was “the commonest problem of parents in America.”

Spock’s 21st century disciples, however, depart from his original precepts., which “embodies the strength and identity of world-renowned pediatrician Dr. Benjamin Spock, providing parents with the latest expert content from today’s leading authorities in parenting,” and embraces Dr. Spock’s “philosophy and vision,” declares that “Punishment is not the key to discipline.”

The parental guidance website contends that “Spanking teaches children that the larger, stronger person has the power to get his way, whether or not he is in the right.” concludes that “The American tradition of spanking may be one reason that there is much more violence in our country than in any other comparable nation.”

Of like mind is the American Academy of Pediatrics, whose official policy says: “Despite its common acceptance, spanking is a less effective strategy than timeout or removal of privileges for reducing undesired behavior in children. Although spanking may immediately reduce or stop an undesired behavior, its effectiveness decreases with subsequent use.”

The academy adds: “The only way to maintain the initial effect of spanking is to systematically increase the intensity with which it is delivered, which can quickly escalate into abuse. Thus, at best, spanking is only effective when used in selective infrequent situations.”

“Timeout,” a widely popularized alternative to physical discipline in which a child is separated from a situation or environment after misbehaving, was devised in the 1960’s by behavioral researcher Arthur Staats as “a very mild punishment, the removal from a more reinforcing situation.”

Gunnoe’s findings are being largely ignored by the U.S. media, but made a splash in British newspapers. It is not the first time her work has been bypassed by the press. Her 1997 work showing that customary spanking reduced aggression also went largely unreported.

Nor is she alone in her conclusions. Dr. Diana Baumrind of the University of California, Berkeley and her teams of professional researchers over a decade conducted what is considered the most extensive and methodologically thorough child development study yet done. They examined 164 families, tracking their children from age four to 14. Baumrind found that spanking can be helpful in certain contexts and discovered “no evidence for unique detrimental effects of normative physical punishment.”

She also found that children who were never spanked tended to have behavioral problems, and were not more competent than their peers.

As in climate change, politicians all over the world seem out of touch with the most rigorous science regarding parental discipline. The newest research could constitute powerful ammunition to parents rights activists seeking to reverse the global trend of intrusive governments muscling themselves between the rod and the child.


PM Should Heed Legal Advice on Smacking Law

Saturday, December 12th, 2009


13 December 2009

PM Should Heed Legal Advice on Smacking Law

Family First NZ says that an expert legal opinion on the smacking law published in the latest NZ Law Journal is confirmation that John Key needs to amend the law, not the guidelines, in order to deliver what he has told NZ parents.

The article by Prof Richard Ekins from Auckland University entitled “’Light Smacking’ and Discretion” says

  • the 2007 Act makes it quite clear that parents who lightly smack their children for the purpose of correction commit a criminal act – contrary to the ‘sales pitch’ by politicians. It also criticises a number of MP’s for the way they have tried to present the effects of the new law
  • any Police policy not to prosecute light smacking is unlawful.  ‘If the Government wishes to protect “good parents” from the criminal law then it cannot rely on s 59(4) but must instead invite Parliament to enact legislation specifying when and how reasonable force – a light smack – for the purpose of correction is justified.’
  • ‘The Police guidelines for the new s 59 demonstrate a tension between the presumption that light smacking of a child is inconsequential – effectively the Government’s position – and the Police Family Violence Policy’ – namely zero tolerance
  • the police guidelines indicate that a parent who lightly smacks their child on more than one occasion or who smacks more than one of their children should be automatically prosecuted
  • ‘Reasonable persons accept a duty to obey the law and hence are concerned that the law be reasonable. Because the Act makes it unlawful – a criminal offence – for any person to act in this way, the prospect of being accused, convicted, and punished, while not unimportant, is of secondary interest.’

“John Key promised ‘comfort’ for parents, but it’s not comforting when he ignores 87% in a referendum, and retains a law which he admits is a ‘dog’s breakfast’, badly drafted, and extremely vague. Legal experts agree with him. It is a badly written law as it stands,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“As the Ekins article says, good parents’ primary concern is that they operate under reasonable laws because they accept a duty to obey the law. They may obey the law but that doesn’t mean they agree with it.”

“The PM said earlier this week that a light smack is ok and shouldn’t be criminalised – a view shared by more than 80% of the country.  But that’s not what the law says, as proved by this article,” says Mr McCoskrie.

“Mr Key should take legal advice – not political advice – and amend the law to deliver what he wants, thereby giving parents certainty that they are parenting within the law. Then perhaps we can start to focus on the real causes of child abuse and the rotten parents who are abusing their kids and don’t care what the law says.”


For More Information and Media Interviews, contact Family First:

Bob McCoskrie – National Director  Mob. 027 55 555 42

Sign up now to received FREE email updates of issues affecting families – be informed!

Reviewing the Anti-smacking law

Friday, December 11th, 2009

Reformation Testimony

The criminalisation of New Zealand parents who discipline their children biblically: Or who will you obey, God or man?

New Zealand has a new law which makes the corporal punishment of children a crime. This includes smacking them with a wooden spoon or strap. The government has commissioned two reports, both of which claim that parents are unaffected by the new law. But the reporters failed to ask even one parent how he feels about this unwarranted government intrusion into his life. On some occasions the charges brought by the police have been dismissed in court. But the police, the psychologists, the ‘welfare’ agencies and the politicians are quite happy to see parents investigated, prosecuted and punished for using corporal punishment on children. Parents are now intimidated by unruly children who threaten to report their parents to the police if a parent dare touch them. Parental authority has been undermined by this wicked legislation. A government is supposed to reward the good and punish evil (Romans 13:1-7), but in New Zealand rewards the evildoer and punishes the good. Prime Minister Key claims that parents won’t be investigated for giving a ‘light’ smack, but if there is some other connected issue, then the police will investigate. Of course what constitutes a connected issue is left unexplained. The facts are that family members have been investigated for the most trivial acts of discipline which have been redefined as assaults.

For the video response to the latest government spin go here:

Garnet Milne

Some Correction Needed, But John Key says it’s OK!

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

From Family First NZ

Some Correction


But John Key says it’s OK!

Prime Minister John Key and Nigel Latta say the anti-smacking law is working well, that there is no evidence of good parents being criminalised, that Family First has been misled by parents , and that light smacking shouldn’t be a criminal offence .

So here’s some questions:
* Why did CYF formally apologise to this family for the way they handled a smacking complaint?
CYFS says sorry to ‘traumatised’ family
NZ Herald Jul 31, 2009

* Why did this parent get prosecuted ?
‘I asked for help but instead got conviction’
NZ Herald Jul 28, 2009 A Wellington solo father says he went to Child, Youth and Family Services for help – and ended up with a conviction for smacking his daughter.

* Why was this family investigated and referred to a government agency?
School dobs mum to CYF for hand smack
Sunday Star Times Oct 28 2007
* The law (and Plunket / Barnardos / Childrens Commissioner / Families Commissioner) says a smack is illegal . But John Key says its acceptable and shouldn’t be a criminal offence . Who’s correct ?
“Lightly smacking a child will be in the course of parenting for some parents and I think that’s acceptable,” Mr Key said. Asked if he had just said it was acceptable to lightly smack a child, Mr Key replied “Yes, I think so” and said the law was clear that such matters should not be treated as a criminal offence [that is only true if the smack is not ‘for the purposes of correction’ and is given for one of the permitted reasons. “It’s up to individual parents to decide how they’re going to parent their children. My view is that it will depend on the circumstances and how you want to raise your child,” Mr Key said – Source NZ Herald
(By the way, we agree!!)
* Why didn’t the report interview and seek feedback from kiwi parents as to what effect it has had on their parenting?
* Why didn’t the report address the issue of children dobbing in their own parents , and threatening to report them to the police or CYF?
* Why didn’t the report address the concern expressed by police and youth workers regarding the increasing rate of assaults by young people on their parents ?
* Why didn’t the report address the procedural conflict between the smacking law which allows ‘discretion’ versus the family violence policy which demands zero tolerance?
* Why didn’t the report address why so many cases of what are supposed to be serious ‘assaults’ are receiving inconsequential punishments , and why so many investigations are ending up with a warning and in many cases, no action at all?
* Why didn’t the report address the effect of criminalising an action (light smacking for the purpose of correction) which most NZ’ers simply don’t believe should be treated as a criminal offence under the law.

When we get some answers we’ll let you know!

But please be aware – the latest report does not answer these important questions .

Have a great week

Bob McCoskrie
National Director

Latest Smacking Law Review Offers No Comfort

John Qweasal, Prime Minister of NZ – in-depth Interview on smacking referendum

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

Meeting in Mt Roskill Monday night 7 September 2009 – 7:30pm

Saturday, September 5th, 2009
Meeting in Mt Roskill Monday night


The way

The way forward on

Section 59

Hi everyone, if you are in the Auckland area your support at this meeting this Monday night would be greatly appreciated,

Regards Larry

ACT New Zealand MP John Boscawen will host a public meeting to discuss Section 59 of the Crimes Act –  the so called ‘anti-smacking law’ – the recent referendum results, and his Private Member’s Bill recently drawn from the Ballot which seeks to amend Section 59, making a smack for the purpose of correction, no longer illegal.

All media are invited to Hay Park School, 670 Richardson Road, Mt Roskill from 7:30pm, Monday September 7 2009 to hear presentations from guest speakers:
Bob McCroskrie – Family First,
Mr Jim Evans – Emeritus Professor of Law at Auckland University
Larry Baldock – Kiwi Party Leader, former MP and organiser of the referendum petition.
Labour Leader and Mt Roskill MP Phil Goff


Mt Roskill Candidate and National MP Jackie Blue have been invited to attend, but are yet to confirm.

Venue: Hay Park School, 670 Richardson Road, Mt Roskill, Auckland.


Date: 7:30pm, Monday, September 7 2009


Open Letter to the Prime Minister of New Zealand

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

Larry Baldock

Larry Baldock

The Kiwi Party
Press Release

Open Letter to the Prime Minister of New Zealand,

26 August, 2009

Dear Prime Minister,

As you are aware I have led and organised the recent Citizens Initiated Referendum on the amendment to section 59 of the Crimes Act that has given all New Zealanders a chance to voice their strongly held views on a controversial subject. This was only possible because of the support given by a marvellous group of volunteers who gave their time and resources freely.

An important part of that group, at least in the first months of the campaign, were many of your Caucus members who strongly opposed the Sue Bradford’s bill, and actively collected signatures for the petition to force the referendum.

Given this common history in the referendum, and the very strong result, it would seem reasonable then that I may have been invited by you to discuss some proposals to address the widespread concerns of the majority of this country’s citizens.

In contrast, I have learnt from news reports that, prior to the referendum results being announced you have been involved in discussions with those we discover now only represent just fewer than 12 percent of the Referendum vote, such as Sue Bradford and Deborah Morris-Travers. In fact it seems that advisors from the ‘Yes” vote coalition are literally crawling all over our ‘House of Representatives.’

I shall therefore endeavour to communicate my concerns through this open letter and hope you may grant me an opportunity for personal dialogue as well.

The final results show that 87.4 percent voted ‘No!’ This means more New Zealanders voted ‘No’ in this referendum than voted for the National party in the 2008 elections and that the turnout at 56 percent was higher than for the referendum on MMP in 1992.

Your views about the rights of parents and your disapproval of the way the Helen Clark-led government ignored the majority opposition to the Bradford law are well known and documented. This makes your current position very difficult to understand and impossible to justify or defend.

When you try to reassure concerned parents with your personal promises, it seems, from the outside at least, that you are falling prey to the attitude that your predecessor developed wherein she thought as Prime Minister her opinion mattered more than anyone else’s, and that it was within her power to take care of everyone.

With all due respect John, you will not be Prime Minister forever. If you leave the Bradford law on our statutes any future government will be able to change the police and CYFS policy guidelines by executive decree, without reference to the democratically elected House of Representatives. This would render your short-term proposals aimed at giving comfort to the good parents of New Zealand null and void.

Prime Minister, good parents do not want words of comfort they want legislative change!

Your continued claims that the ‘law is working well’ are not enhancing anyone’s view of your comprehension of what the law was supposed to do, and what it is in fact accomplishing.

As a parliamentarian you will know that the purpose of a bill is summed up in its ‘purpose clause’.
It is impossible to properly evaluate whether or not the law as enacted is working well, except by reference to the purpose clause of the Bill itself.

Sue Bradford’s purpose clause was “The purpose of this Act is to amend the principal Act to make better provision for children to live in a safe and secure environment free from violence by abolishing the use of parental force for the purpose of correction”.

Here in clause 4 of her Bill we have the purpose and the means of achieving that purpose, defined very clearly, namely to reduce violence towards children (child abuse) by abolishing the use of parental force for correction!

The continued abuse and sickening deaths of children since the Bill was passed is proof that it is not achieving that purpose. The awful abuse continues, and Sue Bradford herself readily admits, “My bill was never intended to solve this problem”. (National Radio Dec 2007)

So not only is the law not working, but also that lofty goal has long since been abandoned by its sponsor!

When you claim that no good parents are being criminalised I think you are referring to ‘prosecuted’.  The police records do indicate that the numbers of prosecutions are low at this point for smacking or minor acts of discipline offences, but the truth is that every parent that continues to use a smack for correction is automatically criminalised.

After all, wouldn’t we consider a thief a criminal once they stole possessions that were not their own, regardless of whether they were caught by the police and prosecuted? After being found guilty in court their status would then be changed to that of a convicted criminal.

The number of prosecutions by the police of good parents is therefore not evidence of whether the law is working or not.

The law has an effect on every good parent in this country even if a single prosecution has not been laid.

You may not have had to deal with the circumstances created when your child comes home from school to announce that they had been informed that they should report Mummy or Daddy to the teacher if they are smacked, but many have.

Your proposal to solve this dilemma appears to be that parents should wilfully break the law of the country, while disciplining their children for breaking the rules within the family home! This forces many parents into the awful position of a hypocritical ‘do as I say, not do as I do’ type parenting which should not be recommended by anyone, least of all the Prime Minister.

A useful test of the efficacy of the new law might be to determine how many more prosecutions the police are bringing before the courts against real child abusers. This is because supporters of the amendment to Sec 59 constantly claim that the police were hindered from prosecuting real child abusers because the previous Sec 59 defence of reasonable force meant they could easily be acquitted. They claimed that as a result the police were not even bothering to bring charges against these criminals.

This of course was not supported by a proper study of case law over the past 15 years, or the police statistics.

However, if this is the justification for the new law we should have seen a dramatic increase in the number of police prosecutions for crimes against our children, given that any use of force by parents for correction is now prohibited.

Police records and statements by Deputy Commissioner Rob Pope in the last police report on the new law saying that “its business as usual for the police” clearly confirms that the law is not working in that regard.

There is only one way in which it could be claimed the law is working, (though I cannot believe that this is what you mean), and that it is that progress is being made towards the total abolition of the use of parental force for the purpose of correction.

While prosecutions at this stage are low, the latest police report confirms that the police have issued a considerable number of warnings. What is the purpose of those warning Prime Minister? Does not a warning imply that the police have informed the traumatised family members that have just been subject to an investigation that they should not use force for the purpose of correction again, or else prosecution would likely follow. Surely that must be the case.

Because the purpose of the law is to ultimately stop parents from using any force for the purpose of correction!

All your promises and words of comfort are meaningless since the police are to be independent in enforcing the law in New Zealand. We have had enough of the police asking the PM whether they should prosecute or not with ‘paintergate’ and the failure to prosecute Heather Simpson over the illegal spending of taxpayer money in the 2005 elections.

New Zealanders are not stupid and they were not confused about the referendum question. They have understood from the very beginning what Sue Bradford and her supporter’s real intentions were. Surely you are not unaware of her motives, or have you now joined with her and the UN in their plan to run our country?
That plan was made clear in the Green party’s first press release back in 2003 when they announced they had drafted an ‘anti-smacking law’ to “stop parents physically punishing their children in line with UN demands.”

A recent survey confirmed a reduction in the number of parents using smacking for correction, which is not surprising given that it has been a criminal offence for the last two years. Unfortunately, such a decline has not resulted in a less violent society.

I guess this does reveal though, that the law is indeed working, but is that what you and the National party were committed to? Have you really become so aligned with Sue Bradford and the 12 percent minority of the country who view all discipline as violence, that you are pleased with this outcome?

If so, it must be said that your party has made a flip-flop in policy between May and June 2007, without consultation with your supporters, sufficient to make the 1984 Labour government look like angels of democracy!

Given that a recent Colmar Brunton poll showed that 90 percent of National Party voters were going to vote ‘no,’ and that the result from your own electorate was about the same, surely there are many of your loyal voters who would be shocked at the change in your views on parenting?

One of the things that made a positive impression on me, when I discussed with you how you would vote on the Prostitution Law Reform Act back in 2003, was that you said that when you were made aware of your electorates’ opposition to the proposed bill, you felt you were obligated to represent them and vote against the law.

Surely you have not abandoned your principles in just a few short years?

Prime Minister I have no personal interest in becoming your enemy, but I will speak up on behalf of 87.4 percent of Kiwis who voted ‘No’.

Many of these people feel they have lost all hope of being heard by politicians in their own country. As my wife and I criss-crossed the country many times over the 18 months in which we collected signatures to force the referendum, we encountered a great deal of despair and distrust towards parliamentarians. Having been one myself, this saddened me a great deal.

I know that most MPs generally work hard and try to do what they can to make New Zealand a better place.

However, we both know that most Kiwis do not evaluate their MPs on the basis of their daily activities but on events like this, when there is a clear choice to be made between listening to the wishes of the people or following ones own ideas or political agenda.

Given the current political landscape where both the Government and the ‘Queens Loyal Opposition’ MPs in this country are refusing to listen to the voice of the people and stand up for democracy, it is entirely possible that you may be able to disregard this referendum and survive politically for a few more years.

I am absolutely convinced however, that you will do almost irreparable harm to our democracy, and strike a deep wound in the hearts of so many of your countrymen and countrywomen.

I humble urge you to reconsider your current position,

Yours sincerely

Larry Baldock

The smacking referendum – my summary

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

As plenty of readers will already know, New Zealanders are currently taking part in a postal referendum on the issue of whether or not a parent smacking a child under any circumstances should be a crime. I have already voted no.

In 2007 Sue Bradford of the Green Party was successful in having section 59 of the crimes act repealed and replaced with a new version. The former version provided exceptions to the law concerning assault, providing a defence. It permitted parents to use “reasonable force” in the process of correcting their children. This would include, putting a child in her room against her will, administering a smack, placing a child on the “naughty stool” when he didn’t want to go, and so on. These are all uses of force, and are acceptable provided they are done within reason (e.g. hurling a child into her room would not be allowed, and nor would punching a child’s lights out or shoving him into the stool).

This defence was necessary because of the unique relationship that parents have with children. Obviously it would be illegal for me to select a random adult and force him into a bedroom and require him to stay there. That would be assault and unlawful detention, as would making him sit on a stool against his will, and smacking him would just be common assault. So there was a natural and obvious difference between the rights and protections given to another adult and those given to a child. This is reflected in other aspects of law too (e.g. children can’t buy alcohol, vote, consent to sex, get married, drive a car etc). Those who say, for example “if you can’t do it to an adult, why should you be allowed to do it to a child?” are just not thinking seriously about the issues at all.

The new section 59 erases this defence completely. In its place here’s what it now says, as law professor Jim Evans pointed out:

Subsection (1) of the new section 59 allows a parent (or person in the place of a parent) to use force that is reasonable in the circumstances for the purpose of (a) preventing or minimising harm to the child or another person, (b) preventing the child from engaging in a criminal offence, (c) preventing the child from engaging in offensive or disruptive behaviour, or (d) performing the normal daily tasks incidental to good care and parenting.

So far so good. “But wait a minute,” you might think. “part (d) would allow a smack, provided it was part of good parenting.” Up to this point, maybe, but then check subsection (2) of the new version. It reads: “Nothing in subsection (1) justifies the use of force for the purpose of correction.” Subsection (3) adds: “Subsection (2) prevails over subsection (1).”
Subsection (2) is where the problem arises, and it is this section that now prompts people to call for a law change. So here is the issue: Force is allowed as part of “good care and parenting,” provided it’s not corrective. Now wait a minute, isn’t correction part of good care and parenting? Confused yet?

In case it wasn’t unclear enough for parents already, subsection 4 makes it even worse, allowing police discretion when this crime of assault against children is committed, enabling them to decide for themselves which criminal acts to prosecute. So a law that is already now written in doublespeak then gives police sole discretion in deciding whether or not to prosecute, in a case where the defence of reasonable force in correcting a child is no longer available.

Because of the wording of subsection 1, which refers to “good care and parenting,” and because of the wording of subsection 2 (which for many, introduces confusion), referring to “correction” as though it was excluded from good care and parenting opponents of the law change had the referendum question worded as follows, following the lead of the legislation:

“Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?”

The question was written precisely because of the terms used in the new law, asking new Zealanders, in effect, whether they agreed with the divide that the law proposed between “good care and parenting” in which reasonable force was allowed, and “correction” in which no force at all was allowed.

I think that the facts as spelled out above are relatively simple and easy to ascertain. However, the supporters of Sue Bradford’s law change, as well as supporters of voting “Yes” in the referendum (the two groups partly overlap) have set out on a campaign of misinformation and deception, along with bungled and careless reading of the law.

John Roughan is among the worst offenders. In reply to the claim that the law is unclear or possibly inconsistent, he writes that subsection (1) clearly allows smacking, so there’s no ban on smacking here at all! He further implies that anyone who is worried about subsection (2) is supporting the right to inflict “a cold-blooded assault” intended to leave a defenceless child  “in pain and fear.” He claims that there’s absolutely no tension in the law because it’s obvious that “correction” in subsection 2 refers to this type of assault, or to things like “ritual thrashings.”

Fortunately, uncritical opponents of the referendum (like those who reproduced Roughan’s material online as gospel) weren’t the only ones reading. Roughan’s legally uninformed perspective was itself given a good thrashing in the same newspaper by Professor Emeritus of law at Auckland University, Dr Jim Evans (see here). He explains just how the new section 59 is in fact unclear and a poor piece of legislation.

Others (e.g. the propaganda site “yesvote”) have claimed that the wording of the referendum question is loaded because it uses the word “good” and repetitive because it uses the word “correction.” This just represents a failure to understand the specific legal reasons why those terms were chosen. They were chosen because subsection (1) allows force as part of good parenting, and yet subsection (2) forbids force in cases of correction. The referendum question then asks parents if correction using force can indeed be part of good parenting. The only ones claiming that the question is loaded or unclear are those who are motivated to do so, namely those who themselves fully understand the question but who want people to vote “Yes.”

There’s a good list of frequently asked questions over at

But isn’t “Vote no” a propaganda group too? Sure, in the sense that they are trying to influence opinion. They do, however, draw on the legal facts of the matter, along with evidence that the new law is not making any positive difference in the abuse rates of children, and they also illustrate the negative impact of the law on good parents in New Zealand. If the facts are in poor taste, then that website’s up to no good!

So for what it’s worth, if you haven’t voted yet, vote NO.

To view the comments and to make a comment go to:

Barnardos Founder Would Have Voted No

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009


19 August 2009

Barnardos Founder Would Have Voted No

Family First NZ says that a biography on Barnardos founder Dr Thomas Barnardo shows that he clearly understood the difference between appropriate discipline and child abuse.

In the book Father of Nobody’s Children – a portrait of Dr. Barnardo by Norman Wymer, originally published in 1954, it discusses how he dealt with discipline including ‘mild’ smacking or time-out, but his code included safeguards against too harsh treatment

“… The schoolmaster’s punishment is to be limited to two strokes on the hand – one on each hand… Any master… who raises his hand or foot to any boy in the house, who is found guilty of having struck a boy with his hand, with a stick, with his foot, or treated him with violence,,, will be peremptorily dismissed. All the Masters are entreated to remember that the law of kindness must govern the house…”

“It is quite evident that Dr Barnardo who worked with nearly 60,000 children over his lifetime knew the concepts of ‘good parental correction’, non-abusive or light smacking, and the difference between smacking and child abuse,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“It is disappointing that the modern-day Barnardos organisations around the world are willing to spend so much energy and resources refuting the techniques used by their founder with so much success. The love and respect afforded to Dr Barnardo was well deserved and appropriate.”

“There is no doubt that he would have voted NO in the Referendum and would have opposed a law that criminalised his actions as he sought to support and care for so many children through his work,” says Mr McCoskrie.


For More Information and Media Interviews, contact Family First:

Bob McCoskrieNational Director

Mob. 027 55 555 42

Sign up now to received FREE email updates of issues affecting families – be informed!


Thursday, June 18th, 2009


You soon will be

For the past 72 hours, politicians and commentators have screemed that the Referendum question is confusing

“Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in NZ”

It seems pretty clear to us! The law currently says that a good parent raising great kids who uses a light smack for the purpose of correction is committing a criminal offence – subject to a possible complaint, possible investigation and temporary removal of kids by CYF, and possible investigation and in some cases prosecution by the police. (these have all happened – view cases HERE)

But please take a quick moment to listen to this…

Green MP Sue Bradford attempts to explain the effect of the anti-smacking law to an increasingly confused National Radio’s Sean Plunket this morning


Classic Confusion!!!
Try and listen to the whole thing – and then ask yourself “so what am I legally allowed to do??” (An excellent written summary by Blogger Dave Crampton HERE )

Doesn’t it seem incredible that our politicians are confused by the Referendum question – yet expect parents to understand the anti-smacking law, how it will be enforced, and its effect on how they should parent.

This is why the referendum question is worded the way it is – because not even Sue Bradford knows the present answer.

And that’s why we’ll continue to fight to have it fixed.

Have a great weekend

Bob McCoskrie
National Director