Thursday, May 03, 2007

(Don't) Smack your kids up!

I'm posting this here, although it's actually an answer to this post on Tactical Ninja because I didn't want to deface Tatnja's LJ with a 400 word political rant/essay...

Firstly, I'd be the first to agree that NZ is a bit overregulated. I'd like to be allowed skyrockets. Or to drive on deserted South Island roads at a bit more than 100km/h. Or to go to a (mainstream) festival without having to pass through checkpoints between the "beer-free" and "child-free" areas. Or to advocate sofa burning (actually, I *can* - the Dunedin police just failed to prosecute a publican for that).

I don't think thumping kids falls into that category though. Small people are people, and they have rights not to be assaulted like anyone else. That's all changing the law does. The cops aren't going to wade in every time someone is spotted slapping their kid in Woolworths, but there will be the ability for the authorities to deal with violent abusive parents without them being able to claim immunity on grounds of "discipline".

Something I would also note is that, since schoolteachers have been banned from physical punishment, instances of teacher-child abuse (like the dreadful behaviour of "Christian" Brothers in the 1960s) has declined almost to zero.

Finally, I think NZ has a bit of an issue with violence and it's acceptability. Something I've noticed here is that people will say quite often "if you do/say x you'll get beaten up". Which they didn't in England. Or Switzerland. Or even the US (I guess when your preferred instrument of violence is a firearm you have to be that bit more sparing about when you bring it to bear). I think that needs to change and less clouting of kids might be a small step.

(BTW, Sue Bradford has three children)

1 comment:

tatjna said...

I agree with most of what you're saying.

I was in high school when the law preventing corporal punishment in schools was passed.

Fastforward 15 years to when I was working with young people who'd been 'asked politely to leave school.' Most of them knew very well exactly what their rights were, and what teachers couldn't do. And they played it to the hilt. "You can't do anything to me so nyah."


I don't think corporal punishment is a particularly good solution, in fact as someone who's been a victim of abuse I find hitting to be particularly offensive and disturbing, especially from the strong against the weak.

However, I'm very concerned about the slow erosion of the rights of parents and those in loco parentis, in terms of dealing with disciplinary issues. Kids are not equipped to understand the consequences of skipping detentions and misbehaving and eventually being kicked out of school or whatever, and courses like the ones I used to run (the net for those kids if you will) are getting fuller and fuller of kids who will happily skip along, using their right not to be disciplined to avoid consequences - until they land in court because it got that far.

I keep saying, I have no answers, but the whole situation bothers me a lot. I've seen it from both ends.