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Abuse of Parents Expected Outcome of Law

5 May 2008

Increase in Abuse of Parents Expected Outcome of Anti-Smacking Law

Family First NZ says that the increasing level of parental abuse by their children is an unfortunate but expected outcome of the ideologically flawed and extremist anti-smacking law.

Recent examples include Nelson police reporting that young people are becoming increasingly violent or threatening towards their parents and that some parents no longer have the confidence to deal with the unacceptable behaviour. Local social agencies in the Bay of Plenty say sibling violence and kids being violent towards their parents are both issues ‘escalating’ in the area. And an increase in both verbal and physical abuse towards parents has been highlighted by youthworkers in the Kapiti Coast.

“This was a predicted outcome of the anti-smacking law and comes as no surprise to us,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. “The authority of parents has been undermined by this law change, and children are now telling mum or dad they cannot touch them – even when the physical action is reasonable and appropriate to deal with the unacceptable or defiant behaviour of a child. Parents know what works because parents know their kids best.”

Schools were sold the same ideological myth when they were told that by banning corporal punishment, violence in the community would decrease. In fact the exact opposite happened, with Ministry of Education figures showing that between 2000 and 2004, in primary schools alone, physical assaults on staff were up 40%, assaults on other students 33%, sexual misconduct up 21% and sexual harassment up an astonishing 83%. A New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI) survey last year has found one in seven primary school teachers were hit by their pupils last year, and more than 50 per cent of teachers reported "aggressive verbal confrontations" with pupils.

Sweden, one of the first countries to ban smacking in 1979 suffered a similar fate with assaults by kids increasing 672% in the 13 years following the ban. A recent UN report on European Crime and Safety found that Sweden had one of the worst assault and sexual violence rates in EU.

“If the government wants parents to be responsible parents, they must firstly respect their authority,” says Mr McCoskrie. “The anti-smacking law has undermined the role of parents, has failed to understand the special relationship and functioning of families, and has communicated to some children that they are now in the ‘driving seat’ and parents should be put in their place.”

“Parents deserve far better support.”


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