They may been on opposite sides of the smacking debate, but Sue Bradford and Bob McCoskrie are both appalled by a book which teaches parents how to smack, thump and pull children's hair as a way of disciplining them.

The Internal Affairs Department's Censorship Compliance Unit is looking into whether to ban To Train Up a Child, written by United States Christian fundamentalists Michael and Debi Pearl.

Whitcoulls agreed to pull the book from its website after a complaint from American child abuse victim, now living in New Zealand.

She said she was shocked to find the book was being sold in New Zealand, despite the country's anti-smacking law.


California couple America Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz were convicted of murder after following the book's instructions and subsequently beat their seven-year-old adopted daughter to death.

Sue Bradford, who campaigned as a Green Party MP to remove the defence of reasonable force which resulted in the amendment of Section 59 of the Crimes Act, does not support a ban.

"I'm glad that it's going to be looked at, but I don't actually support banning or burning books or anything like that. But I am concerned how available it might be."

Bradford said she had not read the book, only heard about its contents.

"One of things that really gets me is it seems to have the mentality of treating children like dogs, which is pretty vile," she said. "But some people actually do that. Anything that actually encourages that type of attitude is incredibly dangerous.

"As we all know we have a bad enough culture of violence against kids already.

"Books like that undo the good work that so many community groups and the Government itself is doing to help parents learn different ways of bringing up their children."

"I think books like that are dangerous in terms of encouraging parents to think that it is okay to assault their children as part of bringing them up. And this one sounds particularly violent."


An opponent on the Section 59 amendment, Bob McCoskrie from Family First, also condemned the book.

"I haven't read the book, I've seen some quotes from it. I certainly feel uncomfortable with some of the advice."

However he did not rate the effectiveness of having it banned here, as people can just purchase books from overseas online. McCoskrie said the group struggled to get online book retailer Amazon to pull two books, Go the F**k to Sleep and The Paedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure.

"It is pretty hard shutting down online and overseas sales, but look, from what I read, I certainly wouldn't be encouraging purchases of the book."

While Family First support what McCoskrie calls "non-abusive" smacking, the book goes too far in his opinion.

"Our guidelines for non-abusive smacking are totally different to what this book is saying. It crosses the line and most people would find it unreasonable."


McCoskrie said the group advocates "clarity" around Section 59 of the Crimes Act, saying it is "better to give guidelines than criminalise".

For people looking for parenting advice, Bradford recommended the Government's Strategy with Kids programme (SKIP) and groups like Barnardoes, while McCoskrie recommended parents visit the Parents Inc and the Family First websites.