Some days I read the news and feel a wave of disbelief well up. Then it turns to real anger and frustration. Today is one of those days. Worse, I find myself wondering whether I should even comment on the source of my anger in this stifling environment of inverted values.
John Lagataua is going to jail for nine months for what his counsel aptly described as exercising old fashion discipline. He is separated from his child , who loves him and misses him. One of the assault counts on which Mr Lagataua is convicted is washing his child's mouth out with soap for using bad language. Good God. I once momentarily put a bar of soap in my daughter's mouth when she came out with the F word at a very young age. I thought just the taste of it would be enough to deter her from doing it again. And it did. Am I a monster?
And were our parents? Millions of kids experienced rough treatment at the hands of parents when I was growing up. Today those parents would be jailed for the same behaviour.
Truly. I am bewildered, I am starting to feel 'older' because I am so out of step with modern thinking about what constitutes love and care. The worst of it is someone has decided what best methods are and we are all legally bound by their 'wisdom'. There is no freedom to say well, you do it your way and I'll do it mine. Yet children are all different. They have varying temperaments and varying responses. That is best understood by their parents.
And look around you. Are children today routinely models of confident, kind and tolerant behaviour? Have we successfully dealt to youth crime, truanting, under-age drinking, suicide, self-harming, bullying? No. We have not. At the margins the extent of these problems grows.
Yes, Mr Lagataua has anger problems. No wonder. He loves his kids, wants to do the best by them. No doubt, prevent them from turning into the charming young thugs he sees hanging about the streets of Timaru; kids nobody gave a damn about. But the 'experts' say his behaviour is so outrageous he must be punished with a jail term. That's twenty-first century justice for you.
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