Smacking debate generates heat

Around the NZ blogs, attention is firmly focussed on the anti-smacking referendum. Helen Clark ruled out a referendum on election day, “just in terms of sheer organisation.” This, says Herald columinst John Armstrong, “simply does not stack up.” He points out that the 1984 snap election was held a month after it was called.

It may well be that, “The petition to roll back the removal of the defence in law for beating your children is a sort of IQ test and it appears roughly 390,000 people have failed”, as Steve Withers puts it. One would hope that the hysterical predictions of the pro-whackers having been shown to be false, the voters would see that giving children the same protections that animals enjoy is the right thing to do. But it is for the voters to decide.

The very real chance that the pro-whackers prevail, and that the referendum muddies the election waters, is the price we pay for democracy.

Clark’s initial response simply reinforces the perceptions of arrogance that I believe are at the root of her government’s current unpopularity. As does ignoring the message in current opinion polls. The best strategy for Labour at the present time is to adopt a more humble stance, and to convince NZers that their views count. Delaying their opportunity to decide whether they want the anti-smacking law is not helping.

UPDATE: Norightturn reports that Clark said in Parliament today that, “the Ministry of Justice has already advised that based on the 1999 experience, holding a referendum at the same time as the election would lead to severe logistical problems, voter confusion, and a delayed count.” Turns out it was the Chief Electoral Officer, whose advice is here (74 Kb).

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12 Responses to “Smacking debate generates heat”

  1. truthseekernz Says:

    Nothing like reading your own words on another blog to help you realise you’ve typed out the opposite of what you intended. I’ve now amended the sentence you quoted to say:

    “The petition to roll back THE REMOVAL OF the defense in law for beating your children is a sort of IQ test and it appears roughly 390,000 people have failed.”

    Changes in caps. I’d played with that sentence too much in drafting and couldn’t “see” it any more.

    Steve, Yeah, didn’t notice myself either, because you couldn’t have meant the opposite. Have amended in text here also.

  2. MacDoctor Says:

    Splendid arrogance on the S29 referendum, Jafapete and Steve. 390,000 people are morons who want to beat their children – yeah right. You are starting to sound like Winston Peters!
    I keep hearing about how no-one has been prosecuted under the new law and I think that that is completely missing the point. The point is that all of those good parents out there who occasionally give their child a smack are now criminals. That they have not been arrested is as relevant as if I was a thief who has not been caught. Although I think smacking is a very poor form of discipline, criminalizing it is utterly stupid.

    Smoking is a pretty stupid thing too – lets ban it and arrest the smokers!
    Being obese is very bad for your health – lets arrest all the fatties!
    Shouting at your child is bad for his self-esteem – arrest all the child-shouters!

    You see, if we criminalize all the dumb things we do then we are all criminals! The only relevant question that should be asked is does repealing S29 make any difference to child abuse? About as much as microchipping dogs prevents dog attacks i.e. ZERO

    In terms of the occasional use of S29 as a defense, I would say we should continue to “trust the people” – a jury of normal people should be able to tell if this was unacceptable discipline. I would certainly be happy with a definition of acceptable discipline excluding all except an open hand.

  3. Inventory2 Says:

    I’ve posted this on my own blog, but it’s relevant to this thread, so here goes:

    ““Helen Clark: A lot of people aren’t comfortable with beatings but they don’t want to see, you know, stressed and harassed parents, you know, pulled in by the police because they, they smacked a child.

    Bob McCroskie: So you do not want to see smacking banned?

    Helen Clark: Absolutely not, I think you are trying to defy human nature.””

    What changed between 2005 and 2007?

    Inventory, How about, she reflected on what was right for the children and did what she felt was the right thing.

  4. AndrewE Says:

    First off – I’m against smacking and choose not to smack my child. However, criminalising people who do is not the answer in my opinion.

    It seems to me that if 300 000 people feel so strongly about the issue then it should be put up to a referendum.

    I suspect>/i> that you fear that most of NZ are morons and that the referendum would find overwhelming support.

    If this is not the case then what do we have to fear? The PM has claimed that NZ supports her. Let’s find out and put this debate to rest.

  5. jafapete Says:

    Hey everyone, I don’t think that the voters are morons, even the ones who vote NZ First. (Hmm, I might have to get back to you on that last point.)

    But I do not think that the news media did a very good job at reporting the s29 amendment, so I don’t think that any vote would be as well-informed as it should be.

    And I did say, “But it is for the voters to decide.”

    I can see that smacking generates a lot of heat.

  6. AndrewE Says:

    But I do not think that the news media did a very good job at reporting the s29 amendment, so I don’t think that any vote would be as well-informed as it should be.

    Our news media are bloody hopeless. If you set how informed the electorate is as the criterion for having a referendum on an issue then we would never have them.

    Fair point, Andrew.

  7. Peter Says:

    Why don’t you just get over the smacking issue and look at the Democracy issue. We have some people who have got 390000 signatures on a petition, what should be enough to force a referendum. What is wrong with having the referendum at the election? 390000 is about 3 times as many people that voted for the Green pary at the last election. Surely we should be able to have our say on the issue at the election not when Helen thinks it is the right time.

    And why are all the anti smackers so worried about having a referendum. They are allowed to vote which ever way they want to on the question. Or are they afraid of being humiliated?

  8. AndrewE Says:

    I think you are on to it Peter.

  9. MacDoctor Says:

    “the Ministry of Justice has already advised that based on the 1999 experience, holding a referendum at the same time as the election would lead to severe logistical problems, voter confusion, and a delayed count.”

    Translation: “We are incompetent and the public are morons…”

    Nice look, Helen.

    Now if this was a company instead of the public service (no oxymoron jokes, please!), the company would have prepared a contingency plan for this event based on their experience 9 year ago. They would have had 9 years to get it right, knowing that the event would certainly happen again as it was definitely not a “once off”. By doing so, they know the would have saved themselves $10 000 000, a not inconsequential sum.

    The public service, however, resorts to “its too hard”.


    BTW Jafa, old man, you might want to move you excellent financial post somewhere else so that it cab be commented upon safely without being engulfed by all us rabid child beaters 🙂

    Did think of moving the finance part myself, so might just do that. Thanks for the comment.

  10. MacDoctor Says:

    PS An edit function would be nice so that I can korrekt all mi typoz 😦

    MacDoc, Have you not noticed that I sometimes proof the comments? I guess I’m the edit function until I can figure out. Will take another look.

  11. MacDoctor Says:

    JP: Take a look at Ajax Edit Comments for WordPress

  12. Andy Rake Says:

    I believe whole heartedly in smacking children if they are totally out of order and you have tried everything else.
    First up, its no one elses opinion that matters when bringing up your own children. Its absolutely NONE of their business. I dont tell them what to do with their children, so dont tell me what to do with mine ok. When i want your opinion i’ll ask for it, until then, button it.
    Secondly, i was smacked for being naughty as a child and it never did me any harm. people often laugh at that remark ‘never did me any harm’ but why do they? Im telling you, it didnt. so end of story, deal with it or move on.
    Third, children need boundries. im all for using as many methods as possible to get them to behave and would never go in with a straight smack as its using your most potent weapon first. Once you do that youve lost the battle because if kids dont respond to it then where do you go? So try all the normal routines, take things away, give them time outs, take their ‘good boy/good girl’ stars off their chart. and if all that doesnt work then threaten the smack, dont do it. then if that doesnt work, smack. by this time, most children will have learnt ‘uh-oh’ ive pushed it now, time to back off before the smack gets a little bit harder. and there you have it.
    the key to it is to do it early on (im not talking babies) but once a child can understand use this method. what you quickly find, is that once a child has had the quick, short smack, you dont have to use it that often, as just the sheer fear factor involved of telling them what will happen if they dont behave is often enough.
    Theres a proper way to smack and i believe this is it. Its like everythign in life, it needs to be a balance. Smacking for everything is wrong but likewise so is banning it completely.

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