The Paua Palace

My royal blog, life, opinions and me, it’s all about ME.. Right?

Does outlawing spanking prevent Child Abuse?

Posted by pauaprincess on March 15, 2007

In New Zealand, section 59 of the Crimes Act currently allows parents to use reasonable force in the correction of their child.  fatherdaughter2.jpg List MP for the Green Party, Sue Bradford has put forward a bill to repeal section 59.  This means that parents can be charged with assault.

Now I don’t intend to get into the rights and wrongs of smacking/spanking a child.  Some parents utilise it as a tool for correction, some don’t and never the twain shall meet.  Let’s look at the bill and the possible effects.

In repealing section 59 parents will not be able to use any force without attracting a possible complaint of assault either by the child or a witness.  Force for the purposes of the crime of Assault constitutes both force or threat of force, a kiss can be considered assault, so there is no degree of force, it’s any force that was unwanted by the victim. 

In the past it was up to the court to decide if the degree of force was reasonable given the circumstances under which it was used.  For example when ejecting a trespasser from my property, I can use force as deemed reasonable by the court, I can escort them to the gate by the arm, depending on the circumstance, I can put them in a hold and physically eject them, the court decides if that is a reasonable action under the circumstances. 

I think it’s fair to say, when dealing with correcting my children, as a parent even without striking a child, I’ve used degrees of force.  For example I have physically wrestled my children into their car seats as toddlers, and strapped them in against their will.  I have picked them up and removed them from the family room into time out while they struggled against me, I’ve pried  them off swings and carried them to the car when they didn’t want to leave the playground.  All of the above will now be an offence under the Crimes Act as I am correcting their behavior.  Sue Bradford claims the Police will not prosecute under those circumstances.  They will still have to investigate though won’t they?  Aren’t Police required to notify Child, Youth and Family Services when they are investigating alleged abuse of a child?  Am I going to be subject to such investigations because nosey old Mrs Brown down the road heard my 5 year old having a tantrum in the driveway, looked out the window and saw me hoist her writhing screaming form onto my shoulder and into the house?  Should I be?

It seems to me at least, that the people who really do abuse children, hit them with more than an open hand, who use weapons to truely beat them black and blue or to death, know that this is wrong.  These are actions committed in anger, not by way of correcting behavior and don’t confine themselves to beating children.  These are people who know it’s wrong and do it regardless.  Is changing the law going to stop them?  Do any of us not commit murder simply because it’s against the law?  Does the fact it’s against the law stop people from murdering others? Even in places where the death penalty is an option, does it deter people from killing? 

As far as I can see, this act will disempower parents.  Currently in New Zealand the Children and Young Persons act ensures that those under 14 are not prosecuted for any crime except Murder, those between 14 and 17 are only prosecuted if they commit serious offences or are recidevist offenders.  How do children learn about consequences if there are none?

Moreover, is it the Governments place to decide how parents are to parent?

As I understand it, similar laws are about to be enacted in California and other US States.  Anti smacking laws have been in place in Scandanavian countries for some time and now some evidence is coming out that they are doing more harm than good, however those reports and dismissed.

What are your thoughts?  Feel free to comment or share experiences either way.

By the way, the image is my husband kissing an owie on my daughters hand during an outing.  Could be construed as something else to the casual onlooker though, couldn’t it? She was crying at the time.

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3 Responses to “Does outlawing spanking prevent Child Abuse?”

  1. […] not to prosecute for light smacking of an inconsequential nature.  I covered the use of force in this post.  However it would seem the amendment that saw the law pass is producing it’s own issues if […]

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