Sunday, August 16, 2009

DomPost Editorial - FAIL

You've got to wonder sometimes why the Yes Vote site link to things - it's almost like they do my reseach for me. Today, they highlight a massive fail by the DomPost Editorial.

What has discomfited some people even those who back the law's intent is that Ms Bradford equates an open-handed smack on a youngster's backside, or a tap on a toddler's hand, with child abuse.

She is unrepentant, arguing vehemently that violence against children can never be acceptable. She is right, of course.

So in the eyes of the DomPost, the law equates even the lightest smack with child abuse, which is rightfully viewed as violence. Well, they slyly don't say that directly, the reader is left to make the connection.

New Zealand has a dispiritingly high incidence of abuse against its littlest residents; few weeks pass without reports of yet another tot being admitted to hospital after a caregiver be that mum, dad, or mum's latest boyfriend hit out and turned the child into a vegetable.

Our roll of dishonour is long, the names on it familiar ... James Whakaruru, Lillybing, the Kahui twins, Delcelia Witika, Nia Glassie.

In each case, it is hard not to feel that these little Kiwis are better off in the cemetery than they were in the "families" into which they had the misfortune to be born.

It is true, as some critics say, that parents no more than a biological description in too many cases who belt a child within an inch of its life will not be deterred by the law change. They are never, as they punch a grizzling child in the head, going to stop and think: "I mustn't do this it's illegal."

Only too true - abuse was, it and always will be illegal. The law change simply undermined the old system whereby 12 men and women sat down and heard all the facts before deciding if something was abuse. Now thanks to a few cases where the facts didn't match the headline*, it's abuse out of the gate.

But the law change has affected the child-rearing practices of many other other mums and dads. They have diligently tried to learn new ways to discipline wayward youngsters, even when their patience has been stretched almost to its limit. And police report that, despite the fears of Mr McCoskrie and Mr Baldock, they were called to only a few more "child assault events" in the six months to April 4 279 compared with 258 in the previous period. Of the 279 cases, none involved a "smacking" prosecution.

So even though the law change won't stop it's intended target (people who beat children), it's simply good enough to stop people who tap their child on the hand and make them find "better" ways.

While the police may (depending on who's reading the statistics) have only been called to a few more cases, all parents now have reason to believe that the state no longer supports in their duties as parents. After all, describing even the lightest smack is "violence against children" hardly inspires confidence in parenting and exposes all parents (at least in theory) to the threat of government sanction.

Wait, isn't that the threat of violence against parents?

Around here, we describe idiotic logic like that with one word:


*It's also arguable that the prosecutions were incompetent. If you think that's a good reason to remove a defense, David Bain's prosecution was also considered incompetent by many.

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