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Smacking Is Not Abuse - Christian Heritage

Christian Heritage Party leader, Graham Capill, denounced the Commissioner for Children, Mr Roger McClay, for emotionalising the debate on the right of parents to smack their children by lumping such discipline into the same category as child abuse.

Capill said today, “Mr McClay should come clean with his real agenda which is New Zealand’s obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, instead of misleading the public into seeing this as an issue of child abuse.

“Mr McClay should be focusing on the real issue – the breakdown of family life. That is the ultimate abuse children have to cope with and to suggest the removal of S59 of the Crimes Act will help children, is a gross oversimplification and a misunderstanding of current trends. All it will do is turn good parents, who are often under stress, into criminals.

“Society cannot hold parents responsible for the way their children turn out if they first hamstring them as to how they train their children.

“We have now had a decade of parenting where agencies, such as CYPFS, have tried to persuade parents not to use physical discipline. The results are clear for all to see. In ten years between 1987 to 1997, property damage went up 137% while violent crimes involving young people went up 77%. In 1997 there were 4111 prosecutions of young people. The number of aggravated robberies proved against young people in 1997 was the highest recorded in a decade.

“The Government has no right to dictate to parents how they should raise their children. The difficult task of parenting demands that a variety of options for training children be left open to parents, depending on the nature or character of the child in question. It is grossly irresponsible to suggest that parents who need to use physical punishment are abusing their children.

“Family law has long recognised that the needs of the child are paramount. Children need to know where the boundaries are and what the consequences are for breaching them. Anything less is not putting the child’s needs first.

“The issue here is the love and care of children. Love demands that I do my utmost as a parent to ensure my children grow up to become polite, responsible, respectful citizens, who are well adjusted and who respect authority. To achieve that end, a variety of methods may be needed including the smacking option. That may be the most loving and caring approach a parent can take.

“Mr McClay grew up at a time when smacking was frequently used to train children. Most New Zealanders fall into this category. Are you, Mr McClay, suggesting that we have all been abused?

“Get real, Mr Commissioner! Most parents do not beat their children to excess and if they do the Crimes Act protects children by limiting the force used to that which is ‘reasonable’. To suggest anything else is irresponsible in the extreme.

“I predict that any law change the Government may choose to pursue removing parents’ right to use corporal punishment in the home will be met with widespread civil disobedience and will be totally unenforceable,” Mr Capill concluded.


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