Friday, February 23, 2007

Smacking? There's worse...

I'm always amazed at the kinds of debates that rage over issues such as smacking. 2 points of view with so many (and arcane) underlying motivations.

My stance on the issue actually differs somewhat depending on which way I look at the issue. I am not a practitioner of smacking - especially for discipline - but I will smack (one, short, sharp) in situations of danger where Rhys is unresponsive. I'm not trying to rescue him, I am simulating the shock response he would have had had I not intervened - substituting a controlled "danger" for danger that might actually do harm. I'm trying to protect him from immediate consequences without him missing out on the lesson that consequences teaches. I think of it a little like the kind person that helps the butterfly escape its cocoon and in doing so deprives it of the critical development opportunity it needed in doing that task itself. Butterflies that don't get out on their own, can't fly. I know its not a perfect analogy but you get my point.

But fundamentally and personally I am anti-smacking for disciplinary reasons. I think consequences of wrongdoing can be brought home in other ways.

However, I support the right of parents to work this out as much as I support the resourcing of alternatives eg timeout etc.

All this to say: Sue Bradford's straw baby "smacking is assault" claim doesn't hold water. Assault is wilful (or perhaps reckless) harm. Smacking may or may not be assault by that definition.

Where I become offended is when the rhetoric exceeds the issues. The Sue Bradford approach links NZ's record on child abuse to smacking. It's a view that's not sustainable, nor is it supported by the Unicef reports or recent years. The Unicef report DOES pinpoint drinking, which is why of course we lowered the drinking age. It DOES pinpoint drug taking which is why we are one of the softest countries out there on drugs and ignore party drugs. It does pinpoint poverty which is why John Key gets mocked for political profit when he raises the issue of hungry children in our schools (and I am not a National supporter OK?)

One thing not often mentioned, that I think is the cause of massive rates of child abuse, is NZ's lax legislation on abortion. We have pretty liberal laws in this area and appallingly liberal practice. Officially you can get an abortion in NZ:

> to save the life of the woman
> to preserve the physical health of the woman
> to preserve the
mental health of the woman
foetal impairment
> in cases of
rape or incest

Practically its much easier.

The Abortion Supervisory Committee collects statistics on the numbers of terminations performed each year, and for what reason under the terms of the Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion Act 1977. There were 17,530 abortions performed in New Zealand in 2005, compared with 18,210 in 2004 and 18,510 in 2003. As the annual statistics for the Abortion Supervisory Committee have repeatedly noted, mental health grounds are the predominant grounds for most certified abortions in New Zealand. In any year, 98–99 percent of all abortions are performed because of serious danger to the mental health of the woman. I find it hard to believe that so many women are in such serious danger that it justifies killing a child.

That's 50,000 plus children killed in 3 years. This compare to the Family First's reported cases were a parent has got off an smacking assault charge by reference to the "reasonable force" defence: 16 cases.

Makes you wonder whether the maypole dancers are missing the point (again).


Rhett said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rhett said...

Those Greens huh!? Hippies.

Man, when you add up those figures it just makes me so angry. What a slaughter... and we think that we are so civilised.

What a modern day tragedy.

Vania said...

nice post.

can you forward it to Sue Bradford please...

Steve said...

I'd be glad to come and give Rhys a spanking for you if he's in need of some good old fashioned corporal punishment, sometimes referred to as an attitude adjustment. That gives new meaning to the "hit man" moniker.

Jonesboy said...

You Americans are all the same ;)

Steve Deur said...

Amen - I spank and it is a beautiful reset button. I was like, "what the heck is smacking?" I thought you were talking about smacking your lips or mouth in some annoying way with food in your mouth... ha ha.

We've found limited "smacking" as a helpful tool when done in a controlled clear way. So - being the backward Yank I am I'm stuck in the olden days...

But, I would also welcome a smack from the Jonesboy.

Jonesboy said...

Giddy up!