Monday, June 22, 2009

An unhappy birthday

Yesterday was the second anniversary of Sue Bradford's legislation. Here she lauds the change and the progress made since. Today I will attend court to see for myself how well the law is working for a father charged with common assault. Not for smacking, but shoving his son.

The young people of New Zealand will look back on the law change as a pivotal seachange in our country’s culture, Mrs Turei said.

But will it be a change for the better?

In Christchurch, for the first time to my knowledge, we have reports of a rise in children abusing their parents.

Herbert said the [Battered Women's] trust had also noticed more parents being abused by their children.

"The number is not large, but it's definitely increasing. With teenagers, it's both boys and girls, and there are also cases of children who are even younger."


Anonymous said...

It's a bold claim to suggest the anti-smacking law is causing an increase in children abusing parents in NZ, of itself.

The story you link to says it is a symptom of the recession and lack of financial stability within families. Have I missed something?

But that aside, and even the fact I detest Bradford, her law, and her ideology, there are more influences in child to adult abuse than not being disciplined with a smack early on. Even apparently passive children, who never need so much as a tap on the bum, can snap with the right catalyst once they reach their teens. The possiblities for why are vast.

I remember I was whacked quite often as a child, but the thing that made me angriest was the illogical thought proceses of my parents, not the whacking. Their reasons for whacking were hypocritical, sometimes plainly false, and flawed to even a child's mind. What fueled the anger was that they were never around when I needed them, chossing instead to openly turn away, but came looking for me when they needed emotional support and left me to find my own way into adulthood, then attacked me for not being the kind of adult they would've liked. There wasn't any warmth, any consistency, any of the family dream they liked to sell. Their values were destructive to me and my siblings and probably completely unknown to themsleves. But we were housed and fed and clothed. Perfectly alive, in a physical sense. Perhaps more like pets than children.
So when I was about 17 I got into a punch up with my father for some trivial foolish reason, and left home not long afterwards. It's a common enough story for a young chap. I've never been arrested, never drifted into crime and kept good habits that I learned myself and worked for me. So why did I abuse my father and think little of my mother? Because they weren't good parents and I'd just had enough of it all. Why didn't I get into violent crime as all the liberal intellectuals would have you believe I should have. Was I really an nasty hateful abuser or just a scared, emotionally worn out teen, reacting to a situation he didn't fully understand in the best way he could? Why was I fighting the same problems teens have fought 100 years earlier? And why are there so many out there now going through the things I went through twenty years ago?

Anti-smacking law increasing child on parent abuse? Possibly. But bad parents - people, ignorant to themselves - are likely making, and always have made, a greater influence. Some parents just don't have a clue.

Anonymous said...

Totally agree (with you and not Lindsay).

Some parents would rather lash out and "smack lightly on the buttocks" (in a compliant way with some legal excuse for child abuse) as opposed to examining their own reactions to stress and frustration and dealing with THAT!

Some parents just don't have a clue. Unfortunately, there's enough of them (and their cronies) with "illogical thought processes" to demand a CIR and waste $9M.

Shane Pleasance said...

Ah but this is where our two anonymous friends are perhaps misguided. Under no circumstances should my views be considered to be endorsing smacking of children. It is abhorrent and unnecessary. Civil societies do not use force.
For me, the issue is one of responsibility.

Bad laws like this only make good laws worse.

This law also has the effect of assuming that government knows best. To quote Lindsay : "The government is not caring and compassionate. It cannot replace families and community."

What would we allow the Government to do next? What personal responsibility would we concede also?

Because believe me, the nation's moral compass is already out of whack.
Laws like this just concede defeat, make it 'ok' to concede defeat, and make it worse by treating the symptoms with more of the disease.

Parenting is not easy all the time. We make mistakes. Smacking a child is not an irrevocable step. We learn and we try to improve. Not all parents are good parents.
There is no utopia.
Certainly none that we might allow the government to design for us.

Anonymous said...

So Shane, my friend, are you "for" laws that allow us to smack kids, against laws that discourage smacking or against laws fullstop because they tell us how to behave?

We have laws that say we can't drive drunk. Now, we could abolish those laws and allow "personal responsibility" to keep everyone on the road sober. However, given the lack of personal responsibility I've seen taken to date, I'd prefer to have the government set some boundaries.

Also, I'm not an expert an Libertarianism, but what positive steps should I take if I felt the moral compass was out of whack and I didn't want to have it adjusted through legislation?

And finally, when we (the nation) lives in a democracy and elects the government, we're conceding "government knows best". Whether it's a parenting-oriented law or a taxation law, we've given the government the privilege of defining it and sometimes we're given the direct opportunity to influence it through select committee etc. It's not news that we're saying "government knows best" regarding laws. They've got the steering wheel, we (the nation) are largely passengers, and thankfully (most of the time), the drivers are sober (because of the law)?

Lindsay said...

Anon, The law that says you cannot drink over a prescribed limit and drive, is not working. The numbers offending are rising. People are increasingly disregarding the law because the consequences are not sufficient deterrent. The welfare state picks up the pieces.

You may live in a society that collectively believes "government knows best" but that takes no account of the many individuals who do not share that surety. Or laziness of thought. Or abdication of mind. Unfortunately, tragically, you are in the majority.

Shane Pleasance said...

Mr/Miss Nonymous, good points raised.

Do we decide not to drive drunk because it is against the law, or because it is dangerous, a bit like randomly popping a few rounds off down the high street? Or is it the fear of being caught?

See the connection?

Lawlessless is anarchy. We have laws already, based on many many years of common law, which should serve us well. Uphold these. Driving while distracted is dangerous. There are already laws about recklessness while driving. Using my iPod while driving is possibly as dangerous for me as using my cellphone. So is using my iPod now ok?

Left wing - right wing 'democratic' government is wearing thin and showing itself as the poor tool that it is - not just here in New Zealand, but all around the world. The concept of Liberty inserts a new axis across the left right - liberty and authoritarianism at the opposite ends of the points.

When we hand over responsibility, we hand over more authority. We have had successive socialist & right wing governments in New Zealand for so long now we have become financially and morally poor.

The choice is to break from these bonds and become the fantastic New Zealand I know we can be, or to continue to be gathered slowly to nannys breast, until we become one big politically correct, state-serving, bankrupt, defenseless, worthless has been.

Anonymous said...

Lindsay, I'd challenge the view that the drink driving laws are not working because "the numbers offending are rising". I'm certainly not an expert on this topic, but I feel it's quite possible that the population has grown and that the laws are being policed more tightly now...leading to an increase in the numbers of offenders being caught. A subtle difference, but one you'll appreciate.

But my main challenge in understanding the "personal responsibility" angle (which I don't write-off completely - so help me here) is, how do you propose society (and govt and laws) moves from the current state to the future state where people take personal responsibility (rather than lazy thinking and abducated minds)...and how long will it take us to move from current to future state?

Lindsay said...

A swing away from welfarism - at all levels, social and corporate - will take many decades, if it happens. The history of older countries than NZ would tend to suggest society will move in that direction. In the US and UK, during the 19th century, the swing was away from collective responsibility for welfare and towards personal or family responsibility; in the 20th, back. It took NZ about one hundred years to get where it is now.

Ideally (as Shane says - there is no utopia) the best situation seems to be somewhere between the extremes but because human thinking and behaviour is dynamic, society is ever-changing. My aim is that we are at least heading in the right direction, which is towards greater regard for and enshrinement in law of individual rights and responsibilities.

Shane Pleasance said...

Well said, Lindsay, Yes I think you sum up my thinking quite well.

Nutbars like me ranting from the fringes will hopefully help, over time, to better define the middle ground. I am not necessarily a fan of 'the middle ground', whatever that may be.

I would say though that I believe timeframes will condense with easier access to information & increased independence - and I am a great supporter of Gen Y. Have two of them home here with me now, and they really are my hope for the future.

I do think that socialism really is dying. Unfortunately, right wing money and values have an enduring hold on much of the established thinking also.

Interesting times.

Will our 'anonymii" commit to the deep thinking that is required?
Naive optimist I am, as ever!

Look out for Libz, we are coming. That is not naive optimism, but an absolute certainty.

Will we see you there?