Vote Yes

For those truckers who don’t follow me on G.Blog, here’s a cross-post:

Just a reminder to everyone who supported Sue Bradford’s Bill to repeal §59 of the crimes act and extend full protection from assault to children- there is a referendum coming up that is designed to undermine that decision, even though it passed overwhelmingly and attitudes (not only to abuse of children, but also to physical discipline of children) have already changed dramatically since the implementation of the new law.

There’s a great non-partisan campaign to support the current law on at http://yesvote.org.nz/. The site is very rigorous and straightforward in its facts, doesn’t overreach, and has excellent talking points for the current policy and why it needs extra time to be successful. In short, their main thrust accords with the Party’s reasoning for supporting the bill in the first place: It draws a line in the sand and uses that to motivate slow change towards a society where physical discipline is largely abandoned and unnecessary.

If you can get out and help spread the word that people supporting our current, sensible laws regarding assault against children, please do so. Their recommendations for supporting the “Yes” campaign are here1, and you can find resources for grassroots campaigning here.

1 Basically, they recommend writing your local MP and keeping up with news from the campaign.

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8 Responses

  1. One question for Still Truckin’: Are you a parent?

  2. Still Truckin’ is the name of my blog. Calling me by that name is kinda like asking after an author by the name of their book. 🙂 I go by Ari.

    No, I’m not a parent and don’t expect to have a crack at it for years yet, (if that!) but I have done work caring for children, which may have influenced my opinion on this matter- as violence against someone else’s children, even a light smack, is so clearly crossing the line, that it becomes easier to think of it as completely unnecessary for parents in general. Whether that’s something you see as a point of bias or one of clarity is going to depend on your point of view, maybe.

    Does that answer your question adequately? 🙂

  3. Sorry Ari, I forgot. I did make some comments last year but had since forgotten.

    Well the word “No” answered my question adequately but I guess you figured the real question I wanted to ask is “How come you have such strong opinions if you in fact aren’t a parent? (even rallying to the cry).”

    Look I guess we’re just going to have to agree to disagree on this one. At the end of the day no-one believes that violence against children is going to solve anything. But we know from reading the paper that Bradford’s law hasn’t solved child violence at all. Her objective was to send a clear message to the populace that child violence isn’t acceptable. I agree with that objective (who doesn’t) but her law hasn’t achieved it. I don’t even think it has made the slightest bit of difference. So save us the silly imagery of beating kids to pulp, putting them in tumble dryers and swinging them on clotheslines is going to happen again if the ineffective law is repealed. As we know the evil stuff happens anyway. In case you had noticed, the cause of this isn’t our law (pre Bradford), but more deeper, complex issue with aspects of our society (a whole other debate). I give Bradford one thing – she had the right intention. Problem is she chose the wrong medium to achieve it.

  4. “How come you have such strong opinions if you in fact aren’t a parent? (even rallying to the cry).”

    Because children have a right to the same protection against assault that adults have. Because I don’t want people to get away with hitting their kids with hosepipe. Because I think we should be intervening in these cases and teaching parents to turn it around, so their kids can have a safe and loving home. Because why do or say anything in politics if you don’t care about what happens to the next generation of kids?

    Look I guess we’re just going to have to agree to disagree on this one. At the end of the day no-one believes that violence against children is going to solve anything. But we know from reading the paper that Bradford’s law hasn’t solved child violence at all.

    No one law was ever going to do that. The point was to draw a line in the sand against excusing abuse of children in our courts. The recent case shows that there is some good application for the new law, and that it has some purpose even if you don’t think that sending a message and raising awareness is enough.

    I agree we need to address the risk factors of abuse- but this law does help there. Smaller acts of violence are a considerable risk factor for serious abuse as violence has a tendency to escalate, and thus removing a threshold of reasonable force stops the state from “incubating” potential child abuse by excusing violence against children.

  5. But he previous law drew that line in the sand. You missed my point: this law has made zero impact. And again, this law didn’t address the risk factors of abuse. I mean if it has done both of these things, then please demonstrate it. All it is is a consequence of someone’s misguided good intentions. Nothing more. For some strange reason you keep on thinking that the previous law excused abuse on children. It didn’t.

  6. All laws do. The problem is that it drew it so far back it wasn’t protecting children enough.

    You missed my point: this law has made zero impact.

    So you think that we’d have convicted a dad for punching his kid in the face under the old law where we had people being excused for beating their kids with hosepipes and worse? Somehow I don’t think that’s likely, and I’d say that on its own is enough impact to justify the law.

    And again, this law didn’t address the risk factors of abuse.

    But smaller acts of violence are a significant risk factor for larger acts of violence. It doesn’t address them all, but this never claimed to be an omnibus bill to deal with every little issue- it was a quick member’s bill to fix an inconsistency in that adults had more protection from assault than children. (They still do to a certain extent, but the exceptions are now related to child safety and non-violent force)

    For some strange reason you keep on thinking that the previous law excused abuse on children. It didn’t.

    Have you not been reading what I’ve been saying to address just that point? 😉

    There was a very real legal catch 22 with the style of the old law’s protection for parents- namely, in the old law there was no indication of what amounted to excessive force, and defense teams successfully used the “reasonable force” defense for assault to excuse quite unreasonable beatings in the eyes of juries. This is what I am talking about when I refer to excusing child abuse.

    On the other hand, defining a reasonable level of force in the law, such as Chester Borrows wanted to do, would have lead to sanction of abusive behaviour beyond a certain physical threshold, and protected violence against children that could be a risk factor for future escalation of violence.

    That’s why the defense of reasonable force was removed and replaced with other protections for parents, which are working perfectly adequately.

  7. Abuse was not acceptable before, and of course it isn’t now. A genuine behaviouarable correction with a light smack was, but is no more. Please tell me why the govt, is better placed to raise my children than I? I am intrigued. And of course before you answer please be aware that a parent knows that abuse is not the answer, but the previous law covered that.

    Of course the current referendum question is loaded, but the more I think about it, the less I think it is. I mean, at the end of the day, who is better placed to make day-to-day decisions about my kids: me? or the Government of New Zealand? Answer is pretty obvious isn’t it?

  8. Abuse was excused as “reasonable force” multiple times under the previous law.

    Please tell me why the govt, is better placed to raise my children than I?

    The government is not proposing to raise your children. It has removed a legal defense for assault that excused correctional violence. Deciding what sort of legal protections against violence children should have is exactly the kind of thing we elect the government to do.

    And of course before you answer please be aware that a parent knows that abuse is not the answer, but the previous law covered that.

    I accept that only the very worst of parents would intend to abuse their children. BUT, I don’t accept that an otherwise good parent will never get carried away with “correcting” their children if they use violence to parent. I think it’s better that parents only have legal defenses for using force to keep their children safe, and do their best to minimise violence in their parenting.

    If it’s not appropriate for someone else to do when they’re looking after your kids, it should not be appropriate for you to do it either.

    Of course the current referendum question is loaded, but the more I think about it, the less I think it is. I mean, at the end of the day, who is better placed to make day-to-day decisions about my kids: me? or the Government of New Zealand? Answer is pretty obvious isn’t it?

    Deciding where the line is that violence turns into assault, whether against kids or adults, is the job of the government. If they’ve got it wrong, I accept you have a right to tell them how, but I haven’t heard a single convincing argument that this law has got it wrong.

    Family First is stuck defending parents who got carried away and punched or pushed their kids for trivial reasons that could not be said to be part of “good parental correction”, and the police are registering cases of “smacking”, as opposed to more severe violence against children, in the single digits.

    I should point out again that removing a defense from something and criminalising it are very, very different beasts. Criminalising something means there is no defense if you do it. Removing a defense for it means it might be legal if you’re covered by another defense, and even if it isn’t, there is no onus on police to charge you. Criminalising something implies you are actively looking to charge people for it.

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