Friday, 16 March 2007

15 March 2007 - Garth George: Be afraid parents, your children will dob you in

Garth George: Be afraid parents, your children will dob you in

Posted by watchingcyfswatchnewzealand on March 15th, 2007


5:00AM Thursday March 15, 2007
By Garth George

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their consciences.

So wrote C.S. Lewis, that towering 20th century intellect, who left for generations of children the wondrous Chronicles of Narnia, which in their movie form will entrance generations more.

He was writing, of course, of the Sue Bradfords of this world and their ilk, those self-righteous meddlers whose arrogance is surpassed only by their ignorance.

But you can bet there were more than a few parliamentarians - Labour ones in particular - who yesterday studiously ignored “the approval of their consciences” to vote against amendments to Ms Bradford’s anti-smacking bill.

How sad it is that grown men and women are so terrified of offending she who must be obeyed that they scurry for cover like children confronted with an irate parent.

Perhaps, though, it isn’t so surprising since anyone who has watched or listened to parliamentary debate will have realised that many parliamentarians are indeed childish, behaving in the House like a bunch of irritable, rowdy, ill-mannered and badly-behaved tots.

But such is the way of things in New Zealand politics today and it seems the Bradford bill will enter the statute books and the law will become an even bigger ass than it is. So the time has come to warn parents of a couple of the awful things they might expect as a result.

The first - and probably the worst - threat to parents will not be the police but the Child Youth and Family Service.

Craig Smith, of Family Integrity, says section 2 of the Bradford bill makes the correction of children a criminal offence if one uses any hint of force whatsoever.

That can be a gesture, a threat to withdraw privileges, intimidation, an appeal to conscience or any kind of physical force.

Mr Smith says the Children, Young Persons and Their Families Act gives a CYFS social worker, operating on his or her own, authority to use whatever force is needed to enter private homes and take children away.

“The social worker doesn’t need proof that abuse has taken place; he or she only needs to suspect that “ill-treatment” is “likely” to happen.

And CYFS is not accountable if a mistake is made, says Mr Smith.

“If there is uncertainty whether the parent’s actions were corrective or merely preventive, the bill says the corrective interpretation must prevail, putting parents outside the law.

“A core responsibility of parenting, the correction of children, is thus thoroughly subverted.”

The second danger is that that before the law has been long on the books some children will begin reporting their parents to the police when they don’t like parental discipline and correction.

Bob McCoskrie, of Family First, says prominent QC Peter McKenzie has given a legal opinion that highlights the danger of children dobbing in their parents in which he says that “complaints may be made by children who have resented their means of correction or denial of privileges”.

That, says Mr McCoskrie, is consistent with international experience. He quotes Superintendent R. Logan, police deputy borough commander in Hackney, east London, and Britain’s most senior black policeman, as saying that parents no longer use physical punishment because they fear they will end up in court facing an assault charge.

The results, the superintendent is quoted as saying during an inquiry into patterns of crime among black men, had been a decline in respect, a rise in family breakdowns and an increasing number of children being put up for adoption.

Mr McCoskrie says that in Sweden, where smacking was banned in 1979, the Nordic Committee for Human Rights had reported “Children have been informed of their rights so they use their rights to demand more freedom to do as they please. They report their parents with the aim of obtaining freedom, unaware of the consequences of their report to the social authorities or the police.”

The committee reports that when children realise the seriousness of their accusations they try to withdraw them, but are held to their stories - without any consideration of the damages that the children incur to themselves.

It adds: “The resentment parents feel towards their children whose unacceptable behaviour was the direct cause of the charges against the parents, has resulted in the loss of normal, loving parental guidance for these children [and] seriously damaged the parent/child relationship.”

So, all you good, faithful Kiwi parents: Be afraid, be very afraid.


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