Saturday, 17 March 2007

17 March 2007 - The Southland Times - Southerners speak out against bill

17 March 2007 - The Southland Times - Southerners speak out against bill
Southerners speak out against bill

An overwhelming majority of southerners are opposed to a private member's bill that could outlaw smacking as a means of disciplining children.

Most parents and children questioned yesterday by The Southland Times spoke against Green MP Sue Bradford's bill, saying smacking was a necessary form of corrective behaviour.

But there was a limit to how far parents could go, they said.

One of the children spoken to, West Gore Primary School pupil Corina MacKenzie, 10, felt parents should not be allowed to smack children all the time – "just sometimes when they are really bad".

Her mother Karen MacKenzie believed enforcing the law under the changes would be hard on police.

"Who's to say what a light smack is?" The guidelines were not clear.

Invercargill's Cameron Forde, 8 said : "I hate it (smacking)." Cameron said his mother often sent him and his siblings outside to play instead of smacking.

However, Cameron's dad Phil took a different view. " I think the idea of the Government being concerned about it (smacking) is good but to me it's another instance of the Government telling New Zealanders what to do." Meanwhile, a petition has been circulating in Queenstown over the past few days calling for a referendum on whether smacking should be a criminal offence.

The petition is the initiative of former United Future MP Larry Baldock. He spoke in Queenstown last night and will speak in Roxburgh tonight.

Otago MP Jacqui Dean said people had arrived in her office "shaking with rage" over the proposed new smacking legislation.

People were just starting to get their heads around the possibility of "CYF delving into our lives".

National Party deputy leader Bill English said the people pushing the bill had implied that anyone opposed to it was in favour of violence against children. "If I said I'd smacked one of my kids after breakfast, they (police) would ask me if I did it for correction and if I did I would be prosecuted for assault."

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