Saturday, 10 March 2007

10 March 2007 - The Press - Barnett says smacking bill 'home invasion'

10 March 2007 - The Press - Barnett says smacking bill 'home invasion'

Barnett says smacking bill 'home invasion'

By JOANNA DAVIS - The Press | Saturday, 10 March 2007

Christchurch radio personality and devoted father of four Simon Barnett is speaking out against the anti-smacking bill, which he describes as a "home invasion".
Barnett, co-host of More FM breakfast show and sometime TV celebrity, says he is sick of misinformation about Sue Bradford's bill which he says will criminalise caring parents.

The bill, removing a defence for parents against assault charges if they use reasonable force to discipline their children, is likely to come up for its third reading in Parliament this month.

Most commentators predict it will pass.

Barnett told The Press yesterday that the bill meant parents could not smack or restrain their child for corrective purposes, or even forcibly send them to time-out.
The police would be obliged to investigate any complaint, whether it came from a manipulative child, an angry neighbour, spurned lover or someone "who hates your guts", he said.

Barnett and wife Jodi have four girls aged six to 13.

He no longer smacks his older two girls, but says the others still occasionally need physical discipline as an immediate consequence for repeated bad behaviour.
He gave the example of six-year-old Lily who kept getting out of bed one night this week.

"I told her maybe eight times, 'Don't come out of bed again'. I said it and I said it and I said it."

After a final warning - "If Daddy has to come in there again, I'm going to smack you" - she continued getting up, standing up in bed, looking out the window.
"I smacked her, she cried and then I said, 'I love you so much. I'll see you tomorrow'. She was asleep in three minutes.

"I know that it works. It's quick, it's effective and it's minimum fuss."
Barnett, who says he has read every parenting book, looked at every website and attended several parenting courses, said even though the bill's supporters say police will not enforce the law when parents smack their children for discipline: "I want to parent within the law."

He said it would not help teach his children a respect for the law otherwise, as children hated any hint of hypocrisy.

He acknowledged New Zealand's "massive" problem with child abuse.

"I'm the first to be alarmed. But most sane, normal parents know there's a huge difference between abuse and assault and a smack for corrective purposes."
The law change would do nothing for those children affected in the most horrific cases, such as James Whakaruru, Lillybing, Chris and Cru Kahui, he said. "
Those are broken, broken people. Poverty, family breakdown."

Barnett, who attends Grace Vineyard Church, said his convictions did not come from a Christian "spare the rod and spoil the child" stance.

"I've been a parent for far longer than I've been a Christian. To me it's nothing to do with that.

"I don't want (the bill) to pass because I fear for my children's future, that there will be no boundaries."

Green MP Sue Bradford, who has previously said she could never imagine hitting her five children (now adults), said the bill was about changing the culture in New Zealand.

"In many, many cases where children are badly injured or killed, it's in the name of discipline.

"My bill will not stop those things happening, but what it's trying to change is the point of view that it's OK to hit your kids."

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