The following are Steve Maharey's words from 2002;
There is no doubt that any changes to laws concerning the physical discipline of children will be controversial. That is good. It is time for New Zealanders to think long and hard about the amount of violence that is aimed at children. The horror stories we read about in the newspaper are just the tip of a very large iceberg which sees far too many children hurt by the very people who are supposed to be caring for them. Changing the way adults think about children and what is an appropriate way to discipline them is central to lowering the number of children who are scarred for life by violence.
In the many nations where this issue has already been considered, there has been a strong emphasis on education. The law cannot be changed without a very extensive programme aimed at ensuring parents and caregivers have positive alternatives to force. Children need to be provided with clear boundaries for their behaviour and where parents have relied on physical discipline they will need to know what to do.
All of this may sound like hard work. However, the smacking debate will not go away. The UN is not working in isolation. Its attempts to protect children from violence come from a worldwide concern about the issue. New Zealand is not at the cutting edge of the debate, it is following at least fifteen other nations (Sweden, Finland, Norway, Austria, Germany, Portugal, Italy, Israel, Cyprus, Denmark, Croatia, Latvia, Belgium, Bulgaria and the Republic of Ireland).
Of course, New Zealand started down this track back in 1990 when it removed the cane and the strap from schools. It was a tough choice. Teachers needed training so they could use alternatives to physical punishment. However, no one seems to be lobbying for a return to the old days. It is time to push out the frontier again.
Well, I am not on my own. Sue Bradford missed it too. Five years on;
Sue Bradford admits a public education campaign will be needed when her bill is passed into law.
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