Kiwi Polemicist

December 7, 2009

• Anti-smacking law: Key’s words don’t match his actions

Filed under: Anti-smacking Law, Politics — Tags: , , , — Kiwi Polemicist @ 8:13 pm

This is from the NZ Herald:

Prime Minister John Key has reiterated his belief no change is needed to the anti-smacking law after a new review found cases were being dealt with properly.
[…]
“Lightly smacking a child will be in the course of parenting for some parents and I think that’s acceptable,” Mr Key said.

Asked if he had just said it was acceptable to lightly smack a child, Mr Key replied “Yes, I think so” and said the law was clear that such matters should not be treated as a criminal offence [that is only true if the smack is not for the ‘purpose of correction’ and is given for one of the permitted reasons].

“It’s up to individual parents to decide how they’re going to parent their children. My view is that it will depend on the circumstances and how you want to raise your child,” Mr Key said.

“Some people will continue to lightly smack their child for correction, some will not. It is up to them to decide.”

Let’s get this straight: Key is endorsing a law that specifically makes it illegal to smack a child ‘for the purpose of correction’ whilst also saying the following:

  • “Lightly smacking a child will be in the course of parenting for some parents and I think that’s acceptable”
  • “It’s up to individual parents to decide how they’re going to parent their children”
  • “Some people will continue to lightly smack their child for correction, some will not. It is up to them to decide”

Mr Key, I am very glad to hear that you agree that light smacking is acceptable, and that you think it is up to parents to make a choice about smacking for the purposes of correction. Please tell me why you continue to support a law that is contrary to what you say you believe, because I and, I suspect, a great many other New Zealanders are confused about the difference between your beliefs and your actions. I urge you to put your beliefs into action and change this law; this would also be a great way of showing respect to the 1,470,755 Kiwis who voted against the anti-smacking law in the recent referendum.

Related post:
Referendum on anti-smacking law: John Key gives the finger

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Here’s the full text of section 59 of the Crimes Act:

Parental State control

(1) Every parent of a child and every person in the place of a parent of the child is justified in using force if the force used is reasonable in the circumstances and is for the purpose of—

(a) preventing or minimising harm to the child or another person; or

(b) preventing the child from engaging or continuing to engage in conduct that amounts to a criminal offence; or

(c) preventing the child from engaging or continuing to engage in offensive or disruptive behaviour; or

(d) performing the normal daily tasks that are incidental to good care and parenting.

(2) Nothing in subsection (1) or in any rule of common law justifies the use of force for the purpose of correction.

(3) Subsection (2) prevails over subsection (1).

(4) To avoid doubt, it is affirmed that the Police have the discretion not to prosecute complaints against a parent of a child or person in the place of a parent of a child in relation to an offence involving the use of force against a child, where the offence is considered to be so inconsequential that there is no public interest in proceeding with a prosecution.

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