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Maxim Institute - 13 May 2004

Maxim Institute

13 MAY 2004

Parents should know before abortions

* 'SKIP' the new parenting programme

* Clean Slate Act conceals the truth

* Manipulating language: this week's word 'gender'

Parents should know before abortions –

A poll has found that 76 percent of people agree that the parents or guardians of females under 16 should be notified before she has an abortion. Half of the 1000 respondents strongly agreed, while only 16 percent disagreed or strongly disagreed. The AC Neilson poll asked respondents, "For a female under the age of 16 years considering an abortion, do you agree or disagree that her parent or guardian must be notified before any decision to proceed is made?"

The poll was commissioned ahead of a select committee report, due next Thursday, on the Care of Children Bill which in its current state allows girls of any age to have an abortion without notifying their parents. President of NZ Society for the Protection of Unborn Child, Josephine Reeves says the bill currently allows for parents to be consulted on practically every aspect of their child's health, except when it comes to procuring an abortion. "It is an outrage that a young girl may consent to a surgical procedure that may have long-term consequences, without the knowledge of her parent or guardian. It completely undermines the role of parents," say Mrs Reeves.

In 2002, 288 females under 16 years and 513 aged 16 had abortions. The overwhelming agreement with parental notification confirms it is preferable for parents and guardians to know about their child's situation to support them rather than hiding it.

Discuss this article in our on-line discussion forum: http://www.maxim.org.nz/discuss/?topic=110.1

SKIP the new parenting programme

The Ministry of Social Development this week launched a new initiative to support parents. SKIP (Strategies for Kids-Information for Parents) has been given $10.8 million over three years to assist community agencies in parenting pre-schoolers. Of that, $3.7 million is for a contestable Local Initiative Fund (LIF); $4.4 million is to strengthen existing programmes; $1.8 million to produce resources, and $900,000 is set aside to evaluate the campaign.

This is the government's response to widespread concerns about child abuse and the intense lobbying in recent years to repeal section 59 of the Crimes Act, which allows parents to use 'reasonable force' in disciplining their children. However, SKIP focuses on positive parenting strategies and ignores these issues, which has angered children's rights groups. In launching SKIP, Social Development Minister Steve Maharey said the programme is about parenting with both choice and boundaries. Given that one of the stated aims of the programme is being non-judgmental, it could be hard for parents to establish boundaries.

While debates on discipline will continue, an alternative way to support parents is for the government to look at the bigger picture, and focus not just on funding community agencies it approves of, but on giving all parents more support.

To read a Maxim article on SKIP and the alternatives, click on: www.maxim.org.nz/skip.html

Discuss this article in our on-line discussion forum: http://www.maxim.org.nz/discuss/?topic=110.2

Clean Slate Act conceals the truth

People with minor convictions who have not offended within seven years will no longer have to declare their past when applying for employment under the new Clean Slate law, passed this week 63-57. It's estimated more than 500,000 people could have their records suppressed.

A number of MPs have spoken out coherently and critically. Stephen Franks of ACT is clear. He urges that all name suppression should be repealed after conviction, to restore the old principle of shame. Criminal records should be accessible to all upon enquiry.

Mr Franks raises a profound issue. Shame has always been essential in an ordered and moral society to discourage wrongdoing. It is an effective and relationally meaningful way to control behaviour, because it encourages us to appreciate the reality of guilt. The Clean Slate Act is actually immoral, as it encourages people to lie. In so doing, it will undermine personal responsibility. It might look like compassion but it is, in fact, a state manufactured notion of right and wrong which discourages honesty.

Discuss this article in our on-line discussion forum: http://www.maxim.org.nz/discuss/?topic=110.3

Manipulating language: this week's word 'gender'

Writing in the May 2004 issue of Quadrant, Australian historian Keith Windschuttle, explores the origins and use of the word 'gender'. He says that until recently gender was little more than a politically fashionable substitute for sex, but has now become enshrined in legislation.

"Some might think gender has gained its current acceptance either because it is a more polite term or because it removed the ambiguity that emerged... when sex became publicly used to refer not only to the distinct status of males and females but also to sexual intercourse. However there is much more to it than that.

"Gender is a term that reeks of the sexual politics of the 70s. It made its first appearance when gay activists began to demand that homosexuality not merely be tolerated but given equal standing with heterosexuality in all things. It was reinforced by feminists who wanted to eliminate the differences between men and women. ... These activists had to face the fact that sexual differences are grounded in biology. They are determined at conception by the distribution of X and Y chromosomes and cannot be altered, no matter what identity a person assumes," says Keith Windschuttle.

Despite the seeming 'politeness' of using gender, most people are not aware of the issues at stake, nor sense any evidence of a concerted campaign change societal thinking towards sexual activity using language. Neither are they aware of how successful the strategy has been in shaping three decades of rapid social change.

Discuss this article in our on-line discussion forum: http://www.maxim.org.nz/discuss/?topic=110.4

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK - Charles Kingsley (1819 - 1875)

There are two freedoms: the false, where man is free to do what he likes; the true, where a man is free to do what he ought.


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