A referendum on whether or not smacking as part of the parental correction options should be a criminal offense or not. In 2007, public opinion already seemed to be against making a correctional smack an offense but despite of that the act was pushed through.
The media seems at least in my opinion very good at making it easy form people to ensure them that they get the “right vote” on your form. Personally I am appalled by how the matter has been presented by the media; back than and again more recently.
Are You SMACK HAPPY?
Just so you understand: if you are silly enough to vote “no” you will be part of the legion of ‘smack happy’ people. Let’s be clear, the questions and matters subject to a referendum are of an entirely different nature.
The question is not whether or not parents should be allowed to give their child a correctional smack if and when they see that need BUT whether or not a correctional smack by a parent should be considered a Criminal Offense.
These are two entirely different matters as I could imagine myself being AGAINST any form of correctional smacking by a parent BUT at the same time I could be AGAINST making a correctional smack by a parent a criminal offense.
The first deals with a personal vision on parenting, the second deals with a vision or perspective on criminal law and a perspective on how far a state should be allowed to interfere in the private lives of our citizens.
But that is not what the media is making us believe. Not at all, you are either for smacking or against it. It is not so hard to understand how this could happen. It is all about presentation, marketing of an issue and marketing an issue is what the boys and girls at Labour and Greens have always been good at, just like spitting dirt around. It is easy to be misled when someone like Sue Bradford ventilates opinions as could be read in the Waikato Times of 30 July 2009:
“For years, smacking was seen as a parent’s right, vital in the discipline of a child…
… However, Green Party MP Sue Bradford, who introduced the private member’s bill leading to the anti-smacking legislation, disagrees, saying the key point is that New Zealand has outlawed smacking for the purposes of correction.
She said laws like those in NSW or Britain gave parents permission to beat their children.
She said supporters of the “no” vote in the referendum wanted to “have a law which defines the level and nature of violence that it would be acceptable to use on our children.
“The implication is that in some ways it’s just fine to beat your child. If, after the referendum, the National Government changed the law back and defined the level and nature of violence that is OK, that would be such a retrograde step.””
See what I mean? From whether or not smacking is a parental right, we shift quickly to saying that is it just fine to beat your child. But what happened to the question in the middle? Even if the overwhelming majority of people find that a correctional smack is NOT a parental right: does that justify that such a smack is made a criminal offense? Were there really no other options? Is it really so that those that see a correctional smack as acceptable are of the opinion that it is alright to use “violence” against their children? I dare to say not at all, it is just that those that are of the opinion that a correctional smack could be part of the parental toolbox hardly ever get seem to get a chance to publicly discuss their views. The media seems hardly interested in their side of the story and instead pursue the anti-smacking position (the yes vote), until we all believe that that is the way to go. Thank God for Magazines like Investigate and reporters/authors like Ian Wishart.
So what we are actually looking at is a law that was pushed through despite serious questions about whether or not this was something that was backed by the people of New Zealand, parents that need to consider that they are actually committing a criminal offense when they actually use a correctional smack, an extra burden on an already overstretched law enforcement apparatus, a referendum that addresses only part of the relevant issues, a referendum, that is most likely not going to change anything anyway and politicians and media that obscure the issues at hand.
What are we actually voting for?
Somehow I see a parallel with the climate change/global warming debate.