Why people are oppossed to the smacking ban law

I thought I would try and inject some rationality into the debate, after some serious ranting last week from some. Not that it has quite ended – Tony Milne is still referring to those 85% who disagree with him as the “pro-violence” campaign. This is about as rational as referring to those who support a women’s right to choose as being “pro-death”.

Something overlooked in this debate is the role of the law as a guide to society of what is right and wrong. At its most basic people see the law as how society says what is good and what is bad. I recall this when debating whether there should be a law against spam, even though its effectiveness would be limited. And the argument from a colleague was if we don’t state in our laws that this is an illegal act, how can we advocate as a country that it should not happen.

Now look at how this applies to Section 59 and the smacking issue. Put aside silly arguments over whether it legalises what you do, or just gives you a defence.

Most parents smack their children for correctional purposes at some stage. They may not know the exact law, but they are aware that what they do is allowed for in law, so long as it is reasonable force. So they see this as society having said we do not condemn you for smacking your child.

Now we have this bill to repeal Section 59. And they can understand that a very very small minority of parents who should be prosecuted have used too much force and not been held accountable. But they also know there is an amendment that lowers the amount of force you can use, but would clearly not criminalise smacking. And they cannot work out why any MP would want to vote against this amendment. They can only come up with two reasons:

(1) Some MPs want to ban smacking, and tell them how to raise their kids

(2) Some MPs do not want to ban smacking, but instead of trying to define reasonable force as legislators, they are going to leave interpretation solely to the Police and CYFS

Now neither of these reasons goes down well with the average parent or NZer.

The problem the MPs who refuse to vote for the Borrows amendment, is that their motives are mixed. Beyond doubt there are some who do want to ban smacking. And the more it is denied, the more it pisses the public off.

There are others who just want to abdicate their responsibility as legislators and leave it to the Police and CYFS to define. They honestly feel that the Police and CYFS will be responsible and only act on common sense, but parents of course seem to not welcome the uncertainty.

I doubt there is a single MP who wants parents who bash their kids to get away with it. Those who suggest otherwise are being dishonest. If the Borrows amendment was passed, I suspect the bill might pass close to 120-1.

Likewise I doubt there is a single MP who actually wants parents who lightly smack their children for correctional purposes to face legal proceedings for it. They believe such cases would not be prosecuted.

But the answer that parents are looking for, is why can’t Parliament just pass a law which clearly does not criminalise light smacking, but clamps down on actual harm to children. They ask isn’t that why we have a Parliament – to make such distinctions. They are not worried about being prosecuted, they just do not approve of having the law now “disapprove” of how they raise their children. They wonder why MPs don’t vote for the Borrows amendment, or if that wording isn’t quite adequate, why they don’t improve it, rather than vote it down.

Comments (13)

Login to comment or vote

Add a Comment

%d bloggers like this: