Greens MP, Sue Bradford has certainly opened a can of worms with her anti-spanking bill. She is either condemned for taking parents rights away from them in disciplining their offspring, or she is congratulated for having the courage and intestinal fortitude to put the way New Zealanders discipline their children onto the political agenda and platform. Who is right?
Ms Bradfords solution to the scenario where New Zealand has been accused of being one of the most dangerous places for children, has been to put forward a bill to repeal a certain section of the Act that allows parents reasonable force to discipline their children. Its purpose has been described as sending a signal that the use of force against children is not acceptable. Its effect will be to outlaw smacking. Police will have to prosecute anybody who broke the law. No assurances can be given that it won't happen. But will the law become an ass?
There will not be a flood of prosecutions of bewildered parents to the courts, because most incidents of parents disciplining their children will be behind closed doors anyway. The occasional case of parents losing their cool in supermarkets will be just that, an isolated case. However those parents who beat their children with whips,bamboo sticks, hosepipes, pieces of wood and other articles are actually more likely to be prosecuted now that disciplining of our children has become a public debate, and rightly so!
Don't condemn Ms Bradford and the Government who may support her bill at the third reading in a few weeks time, just be grateful that our childrens interests have been considered and debated on the national stage. Just remember this, also, that it is never right or legal to assault adults in public ever, even if they are playing up and making a total pest of themselves in a supermarket or a public bar somewhere!
Finally, we have to ask ourselves the following question: Is teaching children that violence is an acceptable solution to problems in anybody's interests? Perhaps Sue Bradford's stimulated public debate has already caused many parents to personally think about their own disciplinary methods towards their own children. Ms Bradford is not an ogre or threat to society, she is a politician who has never sought physical force of any degree to discipline her own five children. Does she deserve personal threats? Of course not! Those people who have taken such a negative reaction towards their perceived right to physically discipline their children have a few issues of their own to sort out!
Incidently, the state of California and its residents are having their own particular debate about banning physical force against those children who are under three years of age!