Editorial: Agency made right decision

By Scott Inglis

1 comment

Smacking is one of those prickly issues that polarises people.

It can lead to fierce debate with everyone believing they are right.

Smacking, because of the very context in which it is used, drives to the very core of parenting because it reflects people's views on what is good parenting and what is not.

Former Green MP Sue Bradford pushed her controversial anti-smacking legislation through Parliament in May 2007.

Her private member's bill removed from the Crimes Act the statutory defence of reasonable force to correct a child. But it was passed only after last-minute changes, approved by a large majority in Parliament, which directed the police not to prosecute inconsequential offences.

Debate has continued to boil, surveys undertaken and even a referendum was held in 2009 revealing 88 per cent of respondents thought a smack should not be a criminal offence.

This week, smacking has been back in the headlines, this time after Tauranga grandparents Brian and Hannah Johnson were banned from taking in their baby granddaughter because they believe in smacking.

They were caregivers to their niece for 13 years, and have brought up an 8-year-old grandson since he was a baby. But CYF has refused to let them take in their grandson's 21-month-old half-sister because they told the agency they smacked their grandson occasionally as "a last resort".

The Johnsons say they are the perfect family; CYF says it "has a no hitting or smacking policy for caregivers".

Smacking happens when parents lose control or when it is premeditated.

Either way, in my view, it is wrong. Why? Simple. Why does an adult with superior size and strength have to resort to using force? There are other, non-violent ways of maintaining discipline, such as time out, confiscation of toys and withholding treats.

It is well known among most right-thinking adults that you don't hit other people. Children, generally, are taught it is wrong to hit other children.

Despite this, there are still adults who believe they have the right to smack children as a form of discipline. They might believe that it somehow makes them good parents and role-models. I disagree.

I agree with counselling and education organisation Relationships Aotearoa when it says "there are good parents who have smacked their children, but smacking isn't what makes their parenting good".

Smacking is a form of bullying and sets a bad example for children. In the case of the Johnsons, CYF has made the right decision but should revisit its decision at a later date to see if the couple have changed their views.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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