Tuesday, 6 March 2007

30 October 2006 - Challenge Weekly - Victim decries sex link to discipline

30 October 2006 - Victim decries sex link to discipline

Printed on October 30, 2006
Victim decries sex link to discipline

A woman who was severely abused as a child is decrying MP Sue Bradford 's attempts to equate physical discipline with abuse and to demonise Christians who discipline their children.

In a speech Ms Bradford made even stronger allegations, linking discipline and sexual abuse.

She said: "Personally, I have no problem with sadomasochism carried out between consenting adults using safe sex practices. What I do have a problem with is a legacy of hidden sexual violence practised on children and young people under a mantle of so-called discipline. Section 59 of the Crimes Act has been protecting the perpetrators of a vicious mix of sexual and physical abuse for generations."

Former Christchurch woman Glenyss Barker, who lately moved to Melbourne, says that as a child she was in a family that suffered horrific abuse from an alcoholic father.

"I can now speak because both my parents are dead and it will not cause them any pain to do this. My mother was abused, as were all of my siblings. Being the youngest, I believe I probably got off more lightly but the memories are still there.

"Because of this experience I am fully aware, as I was as a little girl, of the difference between 'abuse ' and 'discipline '. After the family broke up and the divorce, my mother did discipline us with smacks and I knew that this was not abuse, but justified because my actions had needed to be reprimanded.

"All children need guidance and, at times, something stronger than a word to make them behave. Children with strong personalities will always try to push the boundaries but they need to know the adults are in charge and are to be obeyed.

"As a teacher it was also apparent to me which children were loved and cared for, and I was always aware of the children who were not disciplined at home. They were often the ones wanting stricter guidelines in the classroom, and they responded very well to classroom structure and order."

Mrs Barker says repealing Section 59 of the Crimes Act will do nothing to correct abuse in New Zealand homes, but it will make loving parents fearful and prevent them from sensibly disciplining children so they grow up as mature, caring adults.

"My children have reflected that they respect the discipline in our home and I am very proud of the young women they have grown into. We disciplined them when it was needed, but did not abuse them - they like me, even as children, recognised the difference."

Mrs Barker says to regard loving discipline or a smack as abuse shows that people do not have any idea of what abuse really is.

"I do - it happened to me and I really am worried that Ms Bradford is seeking to remove the only help parents have to assert the authority needed to ensure children are brought up knowing their actions have consequences in life."

Mrs Barker was formerly secretary of the television viewers organisation VoTE (Viewers for Television Excellence).

She says the deluge of extremely violent and sexual scenes daily on TV is a far better documented cause of the breakdown in homes than parental discipline. The instances of teenage murder and violence lately are ample examples of the effect copycat violence is having.

"If Ms Bradford honestly wishes to reduce the amount of child abuse in homes she should start with the dreadful programmes that are screened during the times children are known to be up and watching TV," she says.

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