Friday, November 14, 2008

Dodgy survey reporting from Children’s Commissioner

Oh this is classic. The Office of the Children’s Commission commissions a survey on smacking and concludes that most parents approve of the law change amending section 59 of the Crimes Act because respondents think that the law should treat the beating of an adult the same as child assault.

This is despite the survey stating that most who gave an opinion support physical discipline of children, with just 20 percent opposing smacking.

The survey asks should children be entitled to the same protection from assault as adults.

Well, of course they should. Just like my neighbour should not slap my kids if they nick his tomato plants, and I shouldn't punch my neighbour in the face if he pokes his tongue out at me. Both are entitled to the same legal protection, and always have been. But the survey doesn’t ask should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?.

We all know why. They wanted to conflate assault with smacking again, given that most don’t think smacking is assault.

Among the 750 respondents surveyed by UMR were Maori and Pacific Islanders. But the sample of Pacific Islanders chosen was less than the margin of error and the sample of Maori chosen was just over double the margin of error, and the question order was a shambles.

So, respondents were asked whether they supported the law, then once they said they did, they were asked how much they knew about it. Of those that knew about the law change, most supported it. Of those ignorant about the law change, many knew that smacking was now illegal. So some were ignorant of the law but could state some of its provisions? That’s just weird.

What surprised me is that 30 percent said that physical punishment should be part of child discipline. That’s high. The rest were split pretty much evenly between disagreement and neutrality. But the report of the survey says that parents do not have absolute right to treat children as they wish – negating the opinions of at least a third of respondents.

So the survey admits that the sample is not representative of the population and then reports as if it is, while misrepresenting responses and conflating smacking and assault. How dodgy is that? Never trust surveys from the Office of the Children’s Commissioner. The Commission should be scrapped.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Adults do not have legal protection from all physical force. Police are entitled to use physical force on adults in the course of maintaining law and order.

What the law change effectively means is that in cases where parents used to smack their child, or use other reasonable force, they should now call the police.

November 15, 2008 at 4:09 AM  
Blogger Steve Withers said...

I wonder if you'll ever get it through your head that police won't be prosecuting anyone for smacking now, just as they did not prosecute under the Crimes Act 1961 - where it was also illegal to assault children.

Section 59 ONLY became relevant AFTER police had already laid charges.

If you can get your head around that simple point you'll understand the whole "anti-smacking" debate is founded on the ignorance of people who did not understand the old law or the new one.

November 15, 2008 at 9:55 AM  
Blogger Steve Withers said...

Karl: No. You're wrong. What the law now means is that if people feel an assault is sufficiently serious, they should call the police and that police, if they feel the assault is sufficiently serious, will lay charges.

No parent smacking Johnny's bum for hitting his sister is going to face charges. A parent who punches Johnny in the head may very well face charges.

It's up to the person reporting it and the police who investigate it. As it should be.

Set this alongside all the incidents of people bashing their kids and no one saying BOO. There is a huge public outcry over that too...

...and the reaction is - appropriately - to lower the bar for assaulting children....

But that does not and has not resulted in anyone smacking their child faces charges.....and it won't.

The public have been mislead on this issue right from the start by cynical people seeking political advantage.

It's disgusting they have got away with it for so long....and that people will do ANYTHING but actually READ the freakin' law.

November 15, 2008 at 10:02 AM  
Blogger Swimming said...

I wonder if you'll ever get it through your head that police won't be prosecuting anyone for smacking

I suggest you look up the word "prosecute" in the dictionary because you clearly don't know what it means.

Prosecute means "institute legal proceedings". Like what happened here

Get that through your head.

November 15, 2008 at 10:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

truth seeker, you totally missed my point.

What I said is that under the revised law, if people feel they need to use force to get their kids to behave they should call the cops and let them use force because they're still allowed to!

November 16, 2008 at 12:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Truth seeker
you make an invalid point as SEC 59 was a protection for a parent who disciplined properly.

That is now taken away.

More importantly the main point which you ignore.
Is that a parent is investigated by NZ Police and CYPS automatically as part of the prosecuting process.

This is traumatic for ordinary loving parents as it was intended to be by John Key and Peter Dunne and their caucuses.

What this has done is cause disrespect for the law and NZPolice and parliament and the important work they do.

Its one reason I voted ACT not National this time round.

Mike Mckee

November 16, 2008 at 12:04 PM  
Blogger Matt's Movie said...

I agree with you, Dave

First of all, even prior to the amendment of S 59, the penalty under the Crimes Act 1961 for assault on a child has always been a maximum of 2 years imprisonment (which was double the penalty for common assault - Section 196). So children were always protected from assault (Section 194 of the Act)

However, post S 59, it was declared that even mild physical discipline that was reasonable force was assault - so this was meant to "equate" the position of children from the "evils" of physical discipline.

Now, here is the twist - the respondents are being asked "should children be entitled to the same protection from assault as adults" - which means the survey is asking whether children have the SAME protection, whereas assault on a child is DOUBLE that of common assault! So is this asking that children's protection is REDUCED to the same level as that of an adult male??? If children are to be equated with adults in terms of assault, then how can they maintain two years penalty of imprisonment for children versus one year for common assault? Equity means the same punishment for the same crime - i.e. this is LESSENING the protection of children under the law.

It shows me that the Children's Commissioner is both ignorant and disregarding of the law as it stands, and is not representative of children's rights: she is only an advocate for her own twisted philosophy.

November 17, 2008 at 9:55 AM  

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