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View Full Version : NZ (and other) anti-smacking laws, sf NZ election



Igor_Goldenberg
09-11-2008, 04:57 PM
4. The article claims that anti-smacking legislation may have played a role in the government's downfall.
what is anti-smacking?

Kevin Bonham
09-11-2008, 09:21 PM
what is anti-smacking?

Laws against parents hitting their children to discipline/punish them. The previous NZ law allowed parents to use "reasonable force". This became contentious as some really hardcore disciplinarians had evaded prosecution by using this clause. The Greens introduced a bill to get rid of the exemption for "reasonable force".

Initially Labour was to support the bill with National giving its members a conscience vote but a deal was struck in which police would have discretion to not prosecute in cases of "inconsequential" smacking. The amended version passed with full support of the Greens and both majors in May 2007. Without knowing anything about the issue I wonder if it would still have been on voters' minds.


It's interesting that the free-market ACT is now in government, while the Greens lost votes.

Well, ACT's own performance was better than last time but much worse than in some elections before that; it is just their good fortune this time that National almost won outright and they were able to pick up the scraps and hence gain the balance of power.

Not sure where you get "the Greens lost votes" from as their party vote (the one that matters most) was up from c. 120 K last time (5.3%) to at least 134 K (6.4%) this time and will probably rise further with the addition of postals.

That said to only go up by that much given the extent to which Labour's vote collapsed is a poor result for the Greens.

I shall observe ACT's performance with interest.

Igor_Goldenberg
09-11-2008, 09:40 PM
Laws against parents hitting their children to discipline/punish them. The previous NZ law allowed parents to use "reasonable force". This became contentious as some really hardcore disciplinarians had evaded prosecution by using this clause. The Greens introduced a bill to get rid of the exemption for "reasonable force".

Did National promise to repel it?
To me it sounds like:
"you are responsible for your children behaviour, but do not have a power to correct it".

Kevin Bonham
09-11-2008, 09:46 PM
Did National promise to repel it?

I would be surprised if they did given that they voted for the amended version.


To me it sounds like:
"you are responsible for your children behaviour, but do not have a power to correct it".

It doesn't sound like that to me - firstly because there are other ways of "correction" and secondly because it allows authorities to ignore smacking if the smacking is "inconsequential".

Igor_Goldenberg
09-11-2008, 10:06 PM
... it allows authorities to ignore smacking if the smacking is "inconsequential".
That's the problem. IMHO, selective application of the law is one of the worst possible things imaginable. It makes complete mockery of "rule of law".

Capablanca-Fan
09-11-2008, 11:40 PM
Did National promise to repel it?
Their compromise was regarded as a sell-out, for the reasons you stated.


That's the problem. IMHO, selective application of the law is one of the worst possible things imaginable. It makes complete mockery of "rule of law".
And it also allows the authorities NOT to ignore inconsequential smacking. The child welfare Gestapo can be even worse, using this as justification for removing children from parents or foster parents. See for example these cases (http://www.familyfirst.org.nz/index.cfm/cases.html).

Of course, the genuine abuses were already against the law, so the anti-smacking bill was just more nanny state encroachment.


To me it sounds like:
"you are responsible for your children behaviour, but do not have a power to correct it".
Same with schoolteachers: schoolkids are out of control, but you're streng verboten to discipline them, unless suspension (aka extra holidays) counts.

ACT supported a referendum on this issue (http://familyintegrity.org.nz/2008/act-pushes-anti-smacking-referendum/), and a petition for a referendum gathered 300,000 signatures (http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO0802/S00268.htm), and Key criticised Clark for her delaying tactics on this (http://briefingroom.typepad.com/the_briefing_room/2008/06/anti-smacking-b.html). Not surprisingly it was a deeply unpopular bill being pushed by the Anointed in Parliament, given that a poll showed 85% against (http://www.nzherald.co.nz/child-abuse/news/article.cfm?c_id=146&objectid=10431340).

Igor_Goldenberg
10-11-2008, 06:48 AM
If Nationals are not stupid, they should repel the law and then brag about saving millions of tax-payers dollars (as referendum will not be required).

Capablanca-Fan
10-11-2008, 09:21 AM
If Nationals are not stupid, they should repel the law and then brag about saving millions of tax-payers dollars (as referendum will not be required).
ACT would support that. Also get rid of Kyoto.

Kevin Bonham
10-11-2008, 11:51 PM
That's the problem. IMHO, selective application of the law is one of the worst possible things imaginable. It makes complete mockery of "rule of law".

I haven't seen the exact legislation but if that report of it was accurate (and with the mass media, one cannot take that for granted) then it would be better if it required police not to prosecute the inconsequential cases. I can't see why there would be discretion over it.

Desmond
11-11-2008, 10:00 AM
Why not allow the police to exercise some discretion? They do so a thousand times a day anyway.

Igor_Goldenberg
11-11-2008, 10:20 AM
Why not allow the police to exercise some discretion? They do so a thousand times a day anyway.
In short - they can put you in jail and let the guy next door go for exactly the same thing.

If you smack your child, police does not have to prosecute you. But they can.
Given that many parents smack their children, they are now at complete mercy of any official who might put them away if he wants to.

That's how rule of law is replaced by rule of men.

Capablanca-Fan
11-11-2008, 10:37 AM
In short — they can put you in jail and let the guy next door go for exactly the same thing.

If you smack your child, police does not have to prosecute you. But they can.
Given that many parents smack their children, they are now at complete mercy of any official who might put them away if he wants to.

That's how rule of law is replaced by rule of men.
Exactly. This is why the new Government should repeal the law that gives police even the option of prosecuting smacking parents, and improve their action on real abusers who were already violating the law as it stood before this nanny-state legislation.

Even worse, the child welfare Gestapo have taken children from smacking parents even after court acquittal.

Capablanca-Fan
11-11-2008, 10:39 AM
I haven't seen the exact legislation but if that report of it was accurate (and with the mass media, one cannot take that for granted) then it would be better if it required police not to prosecute the inconsequential cases. I can't see why there would be discretion over it.
Of course, but the leading proponents of this anti-smacking bill are zealots who believe there is no such thing as an inconsequential smack.

Desmond
11-11-2008, 10:59 AM
In short - they can put you in jail and let the guy next door go for exactly the same thing.

If you smack your child, police does not have to prosecute you. But they can.
Given that many parents smack their children, they are now at complete mercy of any official who might put them away if he wants to.

That's how rule of law is replaced by rule of men.What about shoplifting? Should a 4 year old kid who sticks a chocolate in his pocket be prosecuted? Or can the police use discretion?

Garvinator
11-11-2008, 11:00 AM
What about shoplifting? Should a 4 year old kid who sticks a chocolate in his pocket be prosecuted? Or can the police use discretion?
You need a complainant first. So the store or business would have to 'press charges', so to speak.

Desmond
11-11-2008, 11:05 AM
You need a complainant first. So the store or business would have to 'press charges', so to speak.When is a complainant required? They don't seem to be for traffic offences. I wouldn't have though they one would be required for crimes, but I could be wrong.

Igor_Goldenberg
11-11-2008, 11:06 AM
You need a complainant first...
Which is one of the arguments against victimless crimes

Desmond
11-11-2008, 11:13 AM
So if such a complainant does exist, out come the kiddy cuffs, with no discretion from the policeman?

Garvinator
11-11-2008, 11:20 AM
So if such a complainant does exist, out come the kiddy cuffs, with no discretion from the policeman?
From my understanding, correct. Then it would be up to the DPP up here in Qld (department of public prosecutions) to determine whether charges should be laid, based on chances of conviction etc.

Of course in this instance we are talking about a four year old, so usually the parents would pay for the item and give the child a thorough talking too.

Garvinator
11-11-2008, 11:20 AM
Which is one of the arguments against victimless crimes
Can you elaborate so I know we are talking about the same subject as I am a little lost?

Desmond
11-11-2008, 11:39 AM
From my understanding, correct. Then it would be up to the DPP up here in Qld (department of public prosecutions) to determine whether charges should be laid, based on chances of conviction etc.To you this might be preferable to giving the policeman some discretion, but to me it is not.


Of course in this instance we are talking about a four year old, so usually the parents would pay for the item and give the child a thorough talking too.Indeed, or even a smack. :eek:

Igor_Goldenberg
11-11-2008, 12:47 PM
Of course in this instance we are talking about a four year old, so usually the parents would pay for the item and give the child a thorough talking too.
BTW, some smackong would improve the effect of talking.

Igor_Goldenberg
11-11-2008, 12:51 PM
Can you elaborate so I know we are talking about the same subject as I am a little lost?
It's a slightly different subject.
Let me assume that you know what is victimless crime is. Apart from strong moral objection to prohibiting something that does not harm anyone else, there is also a utilitarian arguments against practicality of those laws. One of those arguments is that victimless crime is less likely to be reported or supported by an witness statement as there is no victim.

Capablanca-Fan
11-11-2008, 01:16 PM
Let me assume that you know what is victimless crime is. Apart from strong moral objection to prohibiting something that does not harm anyone else, there is also a utilitarian arguments against practicality of those laws. One of those arguments is that victimless crime is less likely to be reported or supported by an witness statement as there is no victim.
I agree that there should be no such thing as a victimless crime. Governments should prevent only that which harms another, not protect people from themselves.

Kevin Bonham
11-11-2008, 05:44 PM
Exactly. This is why the new Government should repeal the law that gives police even the option of prosecuting smacking parents, and improve their action on real abusers who were already violating the law as it stood before this nanny-state legislation.

If they were already violating the law then why were prosecutions failing?

Igor_Goldenberg
11-11-2008, 06:59 PM
If they were already violating the law then why were prosecutions failing?
Are you saying police could not prosecute real child-abusers with new anti-smacking law?

Kevin Bonham
11-11-2008, 08:58 PM
Are you saying police could not prosecute real child-abusers with new anti-smacking law?

Some high profile prosecution failures were part of the background behind the new law.

I've just read the law in question here (http://www.parliament.nz/NR/rdonlyres/0F294939-83D6-486C-B0DF-BEB956729AF6/94185/DBHOH_BILL_6844_491993.pdf) and it contains numerous exemptions. For instance it allows the use of reasonable force (inc smacking) for the purposes of:

* preventing or minimising harm to the child or another person
* preventing the child committing a crime
* preventing offensive or disruptive behaviour by the child
* "performing the normal daily tasks that are incidental to good care and parenting".

So rather than being an anti-smacking law as such, it seems more to be a law that limits the range of matters over which a parent can significantly smack a child.

Doesn't really sound like nanny-state stuff to me, and indeed the whole argument about nannyism is irrelevant when we are debating an issue about people hitting other people (albeit their own children) without those people's consent.

Igor_Goldenberg
12-11-2008, 09:47 AM
Some high profile prosecution failures were part of the background behind the new law.

Quite an interesting trend. We take few cases few cases where liberty was misuses, disregards overwhelming number of cases where it was justified and cry "there is a problem".
That's the usual method of demagogues to circumvent liberties.

Could it be that prosecution failed because either prosecutors were lazy/incompetent, or the case was blown out of proportion by the media and was not a real crime?

Disclaimer: Everything above is a general remark having nothing to do with the merits of any particular case:)

I've just read the law in question here (http://www.parliament.nz/NR/rdonlyres/0F294939-83D6-486C-B0DF-BEB956729AF6/94185/DBHOH_BILL_6844_491993.pdf) and it contains numerous exemptions. For instance it allows the use of reasonable force (inc smacking) for the purposes of:

* preventing or minimising harm to the child or another person
* preventing the child committing a crime
* preventing offensive or disruptive behaviour by the child
* "performing the normal daily tasks that are incidental to good care and parenting".

So rather than being an anti-smacking law as such, it seems more to be a law that limits the range of matters over which a parent can significantly smack a child.

Doesn't really sound like nanny-state stuff to me, and indeed the whole argument about nannyism is irrelevant when we are debating an issue about people hitting other people (albeit their own children) without those people's consent.

Yes, it sound reasonable. In reality, however, it allows either police or bureaucrat from some children welfare department (or whatever it's called) to get inside your house and your private life. The usual scenario is:
1. Someone makes a complaint .
2. Official from some department inside your house grilling you and your family about everything that is not their business.

And the main question:
Which cases prohibited by this legislation were not covered by pre-existing laws?

Capablanca-Fan
12-11-2008, 11:00 AM
In some states in America, the Child Protection Gestapo persecute even parents who have been acquitted in a court of law. As you say, lots of abuses of liberty can be "justified" by an alleged problem, and "we must save the children" is a great excuse to give unaccountable powers to a bureaucracy. See for example The Corrupt Business of Child Protective Services (http://fightcps.com/2008/02/29/report-of-georgia-senator-nancy-schaefer-on-cps-corruption/) by Georgia senator Nancy Schaefer.

One of my wife's friends in FL was persecuted in for two years despite the fact that two juries took only 15 minutes to dismissed the obviously trumped up charges, but it was a year later that the CPS Gestapo allowed him contact with his kids. One of their psychologists tried to extort expensive counselling sessions, and also tried to force his wife to confess her errors. Others in their situation have plea bargained because of the constant harrassment by the government agents, who can do no wrong.

Kevin Bonham
12-11-2008, 10:28 PM
Quite an interesting trend. We take few cases few cases where liberty was misuses, disregards overwhelming number of cases where it was justified and cry "there is a problem".

The law appears to cover many of the justified cases. Can you give an example of a justified case that is not covered by the exceptions in the law?

(It may well be that the law is actually badly drafted PC nonsense for all I'm aware. But I'm interested in seeing what concrete objections to it can be raised.)


That's the usual method of demagogues to circumvent liberties.

This is simply not a straightforward issue of individual liberties. It is an issue of contesting liberties - the liberty of the parent to punish as they see fit vs the liberty of the child to be free of unreasonable punishment.


Could it be that prosecution failed because either prosecutors were lazy/incompetent, or the case was blown out of proportion by the media and was not a real crime?

Feel free to look up the details for yourself and discuss specific cases. The most-discussed case appears to involve a Timaru woman, name suppressed by court order, who whipped her 13-year old son with a riding crop and cane and got off using a reasonable force defence.


Yes, it sound reasonable. In reality, however, it allows either police or bureaucrat from some children welfare department (or whatever it's called) to get inside your house and your private life. The usual scenario is:
1. Someone makes a complaint .
2. Official from some department inside your house grilling you and your family about everything that is not their business.

This kind of thing can be a problem but is more an argument for better safeguards than an argument against a change that is in principle justified.


And the main question:
Which cases prohibited by this legislation were not covered by pre-existing laws?

The change is that smacking involving reasonable force is no longer allowed if the child is not doing anything on the list of reasons I gave. If the child is doing something on that list of reasons then the parent might still be able to get off if the force they used was a bit excessive. But what it seems to rule out is smacking for completely arbitrary reasons.

To give a completely made-up example, suppose that a parent is a self-styled "Christian", the child is not a believer at all, and the parent smacks the child for refusing to pray (I hope that no sincere Christian would do this and assume that the religion would strongly condemn such behaviour). That, under the new law, would be illegal. And so it should be; it is not a valid reason for smacking, and to smack under such circumstances would be flat-out child abuse.

I think that limiting the range of things for which parents can smack their children is an excellent idea in principle. The question is whether the list of exemptions is sufficient or not, and that to me would seem to be a useful focus of debate.

Capablanca-Fan
12-11-2008, 11:04 PM
To give a completely made-up example, suppose that a parent is a self-styled "Christian", the child is not a believer at all, and the parent smacks the child for refusing to pray (I hope that no sincere Christian would do this and assume that the religion would strongly condemn such behaviour).
I wouldn't do it FWIW.


I think that limiting the range of things for which parents can smack their children is an excellent idea in principle. The question is whether the list of exemptions is sufficient or not, and that to me would seem to be a useful focus of debate.
Still seems like an unwarranted intrusion of the nanny state into the home. The state has a role only if the child is at risk of injury.

Zwischenzug
12-11-2008, 11:12 PM
I think that limiting the range of things for which parents can smack their children is an excellent idea in principle. The question is whether the list of exemptions is sufficient or not, and that to me would seem to be a useful focus of debate.

Yes, any punishment that doesn't result in permanent damage should be allowed.

Kevin Bonham
13-11-2008, 12:13 AM
I wouldn't do it FWIW.

Pleased to hear it. But would you consider it "immoral", or ineffective, or just simply not your style?


Still seems like an unwarranted intrusion of the nanny state into the home. The state has a role only if the child is at risk of injury.

Physical or mental injury, and who decides?

Any smacking without a valid reason is illiberal. Also, any smacking that lacks a valid reason and cannot be proven to be both physically and psychologically harmless is a risk that need not be permitted. So there is a strong prima facie case for restricting the reasons for which smacking can be permitted.

The question is whether any State is capable of identifying those reasons correctly, and whether this particular State (New Zealand) has done so in this instance.

So far no one has suggested a legitimate reason for smacking that was not covered. I look forward to seeing one, if it exists.


Yes, any punishment that doesn't result in permanent damage should be allowed.

Puzzled by the "Yes", since that wasn't what I was saying. Again, are we talking physical damage or mental damage? And what if the punishment causes the child to suffer greatly for a short time but they make a full recovery, is that OK? I don't think so!

Capablanca-Fan
13-11-2008, 01:02 AM
Pleased to hear it. But would you consider it "immoral", or ineffective, or just simply not your style?
All of the above.


Physical or mental injury, and who decides?
Physical certainly. Mental is too broad. Parents should decide in the first place, and were doing that before the Layba/Green nanny state law.

As Igor said, there were some genuine abusive cases that got away, and this was all the excuse needed for the anti-smacking zealots to try to ban all corporal punishment. Yet what was required was competent enforcement of the existing laws.


Any smacking without a valid reason is illiberal.
It is. But I don't want the government sticking its beak in, because the nanny state interfering with parenting is über-illiberal.

Capablanca-Fan
08-01-2009, 11:26 PM
Turning Parents into Criminals (http://www.billmuehlenberg.com/2009/01/06/turning-parents-into-criminals/)
Bill Muehlenberg
6 Jan 2009

A great way to turn most parents into criminals overnight would be to ban all corporal punishment in the home. Make smacking illegal, and most of the adult population would find themselves to be lawbreakers. That is the likely outcome of yet another call to ban all hitting of children.

...

“Although the Swedish anti-spanking law was intended to reduce child abuse, the best empirical study since then indicated that the rate of child abuse in Sweden was 49% higher than in the United States one year after the anti-spanking law was passed. Does this mean that the anti-spanking law increased the rate of physical child abuse in Sweden? Deley’s (1988) retrospective data indicates that the Swedish physical child abuse rate was 21% of the USA rate in the 1960s and 1970s. This suggests that the anti-spanking law not only failed to achieve its goal of reducing child abuse, but that the child abuse rate increased from 21% to 149% of the equivalent USA rate, a seven-fold increase relative to the decreasing rate in the United States.”

pax
11-01-2009, 02:54 PM
Yes, any punishment that doesn't result in permanent damage should be allowed.

I know I'm dredging up an old comment here, but I'm surprised nobody responded to this shocking comment. There are a number of "techniques" that are probably classified as torture, yet don't result in "permanent damage".

Kevin Bonham
11-01-2009, 03:02 PM
I know I'm dredging up an old comment here, but I'm surprised nobody responded to this shocking comment. There are a number of "techniques" that are probably classified as torture, yet don't result in "permanent damage".

I responded in #33.

Capablanca-Fan
12-01-2009, 11:34 AM
Anti-smacking zealot Dr Olav Nielssen from Sydney’s St Vincent’s Hospital in a radio debate (http://www.billmuehlenberg.com/2009/01/06/turning-parents-into-criminals/)"admitted that a ban on smacking would not stop child abuse/homicide. Indeed, he was a bit wishy washy during the session, repeating the claim that something must nonetheless be done."

See this clip from Yes Prime Minister astutely showing the logical fallacy involved:

vidzkYnaf6Y

For those who can’t see it, two head civil servants (Sir Arnold Robinson and Sir Humphrey Appleby) illustrated ‘politician’s logic’:

1) Something must be done;
2) This is something;
∴ We must do it.

As pointed out in the program, this is just as invalid as:

1) All cats have four legs;
2) My dog has four legs;
∴ My dog is a cat.

pax
12-01-2009, 05:23 PM
I responded in #33.
True!