It seems at least once a year the social engineers come out of the woodwork and demand that parents no longer be able to discipline their own children. They want to turn every rap on the hand or backside into a criminal offence, and turn millions of wonderful and conscientious parents into criminals overnight.
I have written on this so often now, for the simple reason that this keeps raising its ugly head. The experts (many of whom likely do not even have any kids of their own) keep coming back to this even though the overwhelming majority of parents totally reject this heavy-handed call.
Whenever polls and surveys are taken on this, parents insist on their fundamental right to be able to discipline their children, and not have the nanny state come in and tell them how to parent. And of course we already have laws on the books outlawing clear child abuse.
Loving smacks on the bottom done in love and as a last resort have nothing whatsoever to do with real child abuse. Yet our eggheads can’t seem to make this simple distinction. So once again we have to have this debate, even though we have been through it all before.
This time it is a doctors’ group – or just some of those within the group more likely – who want to ban smacking. Here is how one news item reports this: “In Australia it is legal for parents to use corporal punishment to discipline children as long as the punishment is ‘reasonable’ in the circumstances.
“A leading group of doctors is pushing to make it a criminal offence for parents to smack their children. The Royal Australasian College of Physicians will call for the legal amendment on Friday to give children the same protection from assault as other community members.
“President of the college’s paediatrics and child health division Associate Professor Susan Moloney said physical punishment could escalate to abuse. ‘We know that a significant number of child homicides are a result of physical punishment which went wrong,’ she said. ‘It started off as physical punishment and went too far’.”
Actually the research points in the opposite direction: usually child abuse does not decrease, but in fact can go up in those countries which ban smacking. But I have documented this elsewhere, eg.: billmuehlenberg.com/2007/04/10/parental-rights-vs-the-nanny-state/
So instead of repeating myself here, let me just point out what has happened in New Zealand where smacking was outlawed in 2009. Bob McCoskrie of Family First NZ has just put out this helpful media release which is worth sharing here:
A family group in New Zealand is warning Australian parents to reject any proposed ban on smacking, saying that from experience, it will do more harm than good, will have no effect on child abuse rates, but will criminalise good parents raising great kids.
“The rates of child abuse deaths in New Zealand have stayed at the same rate as they were before the anti-smacking law was passed. The ban has targeted good parents, rather than the rotten parents who are abusing their children, and has wasted valuable time <www.radionz.co.nz/news/political/131429/select-committee-hears-cyf-getting-too-many-referrals> and resources of the police and social agencies,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. “Any claims that a ban on smacking will lower child abuse rates are simply ‘hot air’.”
A recent survey <familyfirst.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/ANTI-SMACKING-LAW-2013-POLL.pdf> of 1,000 NZ’ers found that only 12% of respondents think the law change has had any effect on the rate of child abuse. The survey also found that three out of four people back a law change to allow “correctional” smacking of children. And two out of three respondents said they would flout the law and smack their child to correct their behaviour if they thought it was reasonable to do so.
Another survey <www.familyfirst.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/Smacking-Poll-Mar-2011-FULL-REPORT.pdf> in 2011 found that almost a third of parents of younger children say that their children have threatened to report them if they were smacked. And almost one in four of parents of younger children say that they have less confidence when dealing with unacceptable behavior from their children since the anti-smacking law was passed.
“The latest review <www.police.govt.nz/sites/default/files/resources/other-reports/11th-review-section-59.pdf> of police activity related to the anti-smacking law continues to show disturbing trends, and reveals that almost 600 kiwi families have had a police investigation for allegations of smacking or minor acts of physical discipline since the anti-smacking law was passed yet only 9% of them have been serious enough to warrant charges being laid.”
“In the meantime, cases of actual child abuse have increased by a third in the past 5 years,” says Mr McCoskrie.
Quite so. We don’t need Big Brother doing more snooping in our homes. We need to empower parents to do what they do best: love, parent and discipline their own children without the heavy hand of an ever-increasing state encroaching upon their rightful territory.