Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Smack to the Future

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  • Ian MacKay,

    "That's part of what I don't like about them - then instead of a discipline defense it's like a provocation defense."

    Now there's a good point! We have dismissed totally the idea that provocation is an excuse. Yet isn't that essentially what is happening when the child does the wrong thing. I smack you because you provoked me. It is YOUR fault. Nothing to do with my lack of patience/understanding. YOU provoked me. So there!

    Bleheim • Since Nov 2006 • 498 posts Report Reply

  • Andy Fraser,

    @ Craig

    Really, Andy? It's rather unfortunate to have to remind people that we have voluntary suffrage in the country (and CIRs are no different) -- but whether you like it or not, John Key -- like Phil Goff who said exactly the same thing -- is a duly elected member of our legislature. Might help not to conflate two utterly unrelated issues in search of something to beat the man over the head with.

    If Goff supports change I'll feel duped too. Key said he wouldn't cast a vote for two reasons - the law was working, and he thought the question was convoluted. Nothing has happend since that he didn't know about.

    Scott, there are very wide holes to drive legal buses through as the current law stands.

    Invercargill • Since Jun 2009 • 33 posts Report Reply

  • Scott A,

    I know that Andy, but any other change to the law won't be what we voted (or didn't vote) on.

    The wilds of Kingston, We… • Since May 2009 • 133 posts Report Reply

  • Ian MacKay,

    "Scott, there are very wide holes to drive legal buses through as the current law stands."
    Not sure what they are but simple solution make striking a child for any reason illegal.

    Bleheim • Since Nov 2006 • 498 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    Oh, now I feel guilty for not voting at all. I just thought it was an insidiously worded thing, and that's why I didn't bother. If it had asked us all about "light smacking", it would have been a different thing. As for smacking, at all, in any guise, in general? Well, I have to say that it's all very well to tell people not to, but unless you have the skills - which first time parents' often don't, practice makes perfect and all that - and you can remember those skills in the heat of anger at your child, a lot of people just find the alternatives too hard, I guess. I mean, as an educator in an area where smacking is something most of our kids experience - I would say, a good thwack or open handed smack, as opposed to the prolonged beatings and child abuse normally associated with South Auckland - you just have to try and emphasise the whole reward/consistency thing. Easier said than done for people who were raised with the belt/hand. We have parents who do NOT hit their child at all, and they talk about how difficult that is when their whole cultural concept of discipline is "the bash". Indeed, some of our kids, who I know get a normal sort of middleclass version of a light smack from time to time, talk about getting "the bash". I agree we need to remove smacking from our lexicon, but we need to replace it with good skills. And I don't know that you can legislate that into existence. I think it requires very long term education, starting from very early on. Anger/temper management needs to be part of the curriculum at schools. We already do it at kindergarten.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report Reply

  • James Green,

    @Ben. I agree with all you've said. As I believe I said, I was putting forward a best practice argument for smacking based on theory, not advancing an argument for preferring punishment to reward. There is actually some argument, that I'm not up to date on, that pain doesn't the same rules as other punishments.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 703 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Oh, now I feel guilty for not voting at all. I just thought it was an insidiously worded thing, and that's why I didn't bother.

    And I feel no guilt for taking the same position -- because even if the outcome had been totally reversed, you'd still have dignified an ambiguous and misleading question posed as part of a costly exercise in bullshit faux-democracy with serious attention it just didn't deserve.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Ward,

    Simply add a clause to S59 that states "Nothing is this section shall make a smack as part of good parental correction a criminal offence."

    Or put the "good parenting" bit in the pointless direction to police to not prosecute trivial matters (or whatever the exact term is). You may have legal semantics as to whether or not the criminal offence exists if the legislation tells you not to prosecute in certain circumstances, but it seems to give direct effect to the referendum wording - and surprise, surprise would see zero change in actual prosecutions.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 1727 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    Oh, now I feel guilty

    And I feel no guilt

    Sounds like the Catholics on a Sunday, just add 3 Hail Mary's :)

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • tim kong,

    @Jackie:

    I think it requires very long term education, starting from very early on. Anger/temper management needs to be part of the curriculum at schools. We already do it at kindergarten.

    Very much agree here, and the Key Competencies that are part of the revised NZ Curriculum speak straight to this sort of core value issue. In schools/communities where violence and a culture of 'the bash' is part and parcel, learning and teaching about alternatives can and should be included as part of the school programme.

    I wonder again - if Larry and those who voted 'No' - would consider bringing corporal punishment in schools back - for the purposes of correction. I mean that seriously. Their argument seems to be that 'good parents' know more than others. And should be allowed to engage in behaviour management that allows hitting or smacking.

    Parenting is by and large learnt by having been parented, is it not? So like fathers who teach their sons how to drive - all the son really does is pick up the 'good' and 'bad' habits of the father. Or daughter and mother.

    Teachers are trained, qualified, registered - in the field of child behaviour, learning and management. There are systems for mentoring and monitoring and consequences of inapproriate behaviour. It's what we do - we have a duty of care to children.

    Part of that duty of care - accepted by society, is an inability to use force for the purpose of correction or discipline. If we as a society don't allow those that we train specifically to look after our children to smack/hit them - how and why can we justify that right to those who are by virtue of genetics are their parents.

    I'm not saying you can't be taught to be a better parent. My daughter is 6 months old and I have all of this in front of me. But I find it hard to reconcile the different standards - particularly as they relate to the same subjects - our children.

    My class I was teaching in 2007, who had received and were getting 'the bash' said "It's not going to stop kids getting smacked - but it's a good thing to say it's not OK to hit them." Why can't Larry and co. see that?

    Or am I being too idealistic....

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 153 posts Report Reply

  • tim kong,

    My class I was teaching in 2007, who had received and were getting 'the bash' said "It's not going to stop kids getting smacked - but it's a good thing to say it's not OK to hit them."

    Quick edit - I'm not saying all of my students were coming to school black and blue - just that I taught in an environment where that was a part of the culture. Where discipline was hard.

    I hope that makes sense.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 153 posts Report Reply

  • Ian MacKay,

    Oh, now I feel guilty

    And I feel no guilt

    Sounds like the Catholics on a Sunday, just add 3 Hail Mary's :)

    Never mind. Perhaps a little bit of guilt for eating/not eating all that chocolate will do instead?

    Bleheim • Since Nov 2006 • 498 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    My class I was teaching in 2007, who had received and were getting 'the bash' said "It's not going to stop kids getting smacked - but it's a good thing to say it's not OK to hit them."

    Quick edit - I'm not saying all of my students were coming to school black and blue - just that I taught in an environment where that was a part of the culture. Where discipline was hard.

    I hope that makes sense.

    Absolutely, Tim. I completely agree. Some of my 3 and 4 year olds find it confusing. We advise them to tell other kids when something is not okay, and more than once when a kid has told me about getting the "bash" and I knew it wasn't just a wee smack, I've told them that they are allowed to tell Mum or Dad that it's not okay. But most of them aren't old enough, or confident enough, to do that yet. Most of them aren't articulate enough yet to tell their peers off - but we practice assertion every day. Hopefully, some of the techniques we model stick. I am confident that with some of our families, they do. It's an ongoing process, as you well know.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report Reply

  • dyan campbell,

    I trained it not to sleep on the couch by the simple expedient of putting the cat basket near to the heater.

    It's nice that the cat has convinced you this is what transpired, but it's pretty obvious to the rest of us that your cat simply trained you to put the heater near the cat basket instead of the sofa.

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 595 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    But most of them aren't old enough, or confident enough, to do that yet. Most of them aren't articulate enough yet to tell their peers off - but we practice assertion every day.

    Even if not now it will eventually stick and then a sibling learns the same and then 2 in the family are hearing it and so on and so forth and as Steve said above (and I happen to agree with him on this occasion, ;) the cycle begins to break and before you know it someone shows concern in another household when it is necessary.....

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    Punishment is generally a rather weak motivator, it is too unguided and specific. The focus becomes avoiding the punishment.

    If you get smacked for calling your mum a minge-bag, then you might only learn to not call your mum a minge-bag to her face, and you'll go on dissing your mum in front of your friends and siblings.

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1946 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    Ben, you ask what's permitted. Section 59 of the Crimes Act 1961 says:

    (1) Every parent of a child and every person in the place of a parent of the child is justified in using force if the force used is reasonable in the circumstances and is for the purpose of—
    (a) preventing or minimising harm to the child or another person; or
    (b) preventing the child from engaging or continuing to engage in conduct that amounts to a criminal offence; or
    (c) preventing the child from engaging or continuing to engage in offensive or disruptive behaviour; or
    (d) performing the normal daily tasks that are incidental to good care and parenting.

    Interpreted very narrowly that would allow a swat on the hand for pulling things off supermarket shelves, or reaching toward a hot stove, or pulling Rover's tail. Those are all situations where there's risk of harm or significantly disruptive behaviour, they all occur in the course of day-to-day parenting, and it would be very unlikely in any of those cases that the triviality bar for prosecution would be even approached, never mind met. But the swat would have to be delivered immediately, as reinforcement of a "Don't do that" message, not given some time later - at which point, of course, it becomes a calculated, corrective action not a "this has to stop right now or you could get hurt, or cause a lot of damage" action.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • kiwi kat,

    @Tim

    My class I was teaching in 2007, who had received and were getting 'the bash' said "It's not going to stop kids getting smacked - but it's a good thing to say it's not OK to hit them." Why can't Larry and co. see that?

    Or am I being too idealistic....

    If you're idealistic, then so are a lot of my peers who, like me, believed that it was in the sentiment. I voted YES because I believed in the repeal of Section 59. I valued what it was trying to say to our community.

    I really thought it was about a voice for our kids and a way to give them the same protection from assault as taller people get. :-)

    I'd like to see all smacking illegal. But if that aint going to happen then I'm happy with the law as it stands today and I'm crossing all appendages for a decent outcome from tomorrow's cabinet meeting.

    I'm a teacher too Tim. We have to be idealistic don't we? Otherwise we might as well hang up our hats.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2008 • 9 posts Report Reply

  • kiwi kat,

    @Matthew

    I have (on another forum) shown piece from the law over and over to people who believed that the government had taken away their 'right to smack'

    It became a 'did not/ 'did too' argument.

    The media has a helluva lot to answer for.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2008 • 9 posts Report Reply

  • Ian MacKay,

    Probably bad time but there is a great deal of research summed up with "Punished with Rewards." It is a good thing to try and ignore bad behaviour, and perhaps better to reward good behaviour but better still is to acknowledge good behaviour. There is a mania for dishing out certificates, lollies, etc which may have a short term response but is it teaching people to to good things for reward rather for the good of self and group. Teachers often hold out a reward for the person or group who does best but it can be done much better. It ties in with the belief say in a school that bad kids get X punishment. If the same kids are getting benched or getting X then it isn't working. If the kids are getting smacked at home for repeated behaviour then its not working. One of my favourites is the use of consequences as though we don't use punishments! Ha!

    Bleheim • Since Nov 2006 • 498 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    If the PM, having diminished the importance of a vote by saying he wasn't going to change anything, changes anything, I'm going to be pissed off.

    More fool you it seems.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • kiwi kat,

    The 'intermittent' rewards mentioned earlier are the way we do it in our house.

    We surprise our daughter (age 10) with rewards for doing something lovely or unbidden for us. Because she has an intellectually disabled brother, her life is a 'life-less-ordinary" compared to her friends with typically developing siblings.

    Intermittent treats - just out of the blue are some ways we reward her for behaviour which we believe is mature and goes beyond what a kid her age would do.

    It makes the times when she does do something silly or forgetful much easier to manage - eg faffing around on the way home from school and worrying the bejeezuz out of us after playing with a mate. Then she gets a period of time when after school play is out and she's to be straight home after school. That can hurt ;-)

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2008 • 9 posts Report Reply

  • Ian MacKay,

    kiwi kat: It can be as simple as "You are home on time. You helped feed your brother. You put your bag away without being asked. " Watch carefully the effect it has on the body talk. No reward. No "good girl."said.
    In the classroom ask the kids what they really think about certificates and awards, but remember they have lived with reward and punishments forever.
    Can't really go into it here but Alfie Kohn has good stuff on this for teachers and parents, (and grades and testing) but if in NZ we condone smacking, then we have a looooong way to go!

    Bleheim • Since Nov 2006 • 498 posts Report Reply

  • kiwi kat,

    Ian...we're of that ilk I think. We do take that simple approach you mention. I'd be interested in reading Alfie Kohn.

    The reward thing tends to happen after our daughter has been put under what we believe to be unreasonable stress in comparison to the homelife her immediate friends experience. Sometimes our kids can do extraordinary things that aren't recognised with medals or stickers...and I think they must be acknowledged.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2008 • 9 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Young,

    So, has anyone else read Matt Nipperts article in today's Herald, "US Funding for No Vote." ? Looks like Focus on the Family "New Zealand" is more dependent on its malignant predatory US multinational corporation parent than anyone thought...

    Craig Y

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 573 posts Report Reply

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