Tuesday, 6 March 2007

Family Integrity # 138 -- Today's Herald article

Family Integrity # 138 -- Today's Herald article

Here's a great article in today's Herald:



By Lincoln Tan
Spare the rod - and expect trouble in return
Monday October 23, 2006

There is a Chinese saying, da shi ai, which literally translates to mean to hit is to love. It is said that a parent who spares the rod hates his child, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.

While I am totally against people who physically abuse a child in the name of discipline, I believe there are times when the rod still needs to be used.

Three weeks ago, while having a bowl of noodles at a food court on Queen St, a 40-ish mother and her son, aged about 8 or 9, sat at a table next to me.

In between talking about Ant Bully, which I presumed was a movie they had just watched, the boy asked for money to play arcade games. When the mother said no, hell broke loose.

After screaming a litany of obscenities and calling his mother a name equating her to a female dog, the boy started shaking the table with his hands.

People were looking in their direction, and the mother tried to pacify the boy. Mommy will get you some ice cream if you behave, she said to him. The food arrived, and another scene started. The brat began throwing his fried rice all over the table and floor, squealing: "I don't want to eat!"

By this time, the mother, who probably could not take the antics of the little runt any more, handed him a $10 bill and they walked away, their food left uneaten.

I just stared in shock and disbelief. If anyone deserved a spank on the backside, it had to be this little monster.

Had I tried to pull off even a fraction of what that little boy did with my mom when I was his age, I would almost certainly have been facing the cane.

My mother is probably one of the most ardent believers that a whack on the backside is the best method to keep us on the right path of life, and being the rascal that I was as a child, I think mom's method did me a lot of good.

Growing up in Singapore where corporal punishment is legal, no one would raise an eyelid on the right of a mother so spank her child.

But in New Zealand, my mother did to me would have made her a criminal - guilty of assault and abuse.

The justice and electoral committee is due to report back to Parliament at the end of this month on Green MP Sue Bradford's Crimes Amendment Bill. If her bill, calling for the abolition of force as a justification for child discipline becomes law, then parents who smack their children will all become criminals.

Now, Section 59 of the Crimes Act states that parents are justified in using force by way of correction towards the child if the force used is reasonable in the circumstances. But Bradford wants all forms of physical disciplining by parents to come under the general law of assault, meaning parents can be convicted for smacking their children. Is this just political correctness gone mad?

Last Friday, the plights of two mothers were highlighted in Pansy Speak, National MP Pansy Wong's email-circulated newsletter.

In one case, a mother who smacked her son who had used a baseball bat to attack his stepfather during an argument was reported to the police by a social worker.

Another involved a mother who had gone to pick up her 12-year-old daughter after discovering her drinking alcohol in the streets. The daughter refused to get into the car and the mother dragged her in, and the girl then laid a complaint of assault against her mother.

By removing the trust we have as a society on the judgment of parents and guardians on disciplining their children, are we instead just arming our youth with ammunition to get back at mom and dad whenever they are not happy with something and unnecessarily stretching our already stretched policing resources?

Wasted Childhood, a report in the Weekend Herald on Saturday highlighted an increasing number of parents who choose the easy way of raising their children by using television and computer games as electronic babysitters.

But a survey of 10,000 youngsters aged between 13 and 18 found exposure to violence and sex on TV, movies and computers desensitises children's behaviour and makes them more likely to become violent. It also found that it made children unhealthy, and the more TV they watched, the worse they did at school.

Contrast this with an earlier study by the Dunedin Multi-disciplinary Health and Development Unit which tracked 1000 children born in Dunedin between 1972 and 1973, which found those who were smacked had similar or slightly better outcomes in terms of aggression, substance abuse, adult convictions and school achievements than those who were not.

I say parents who choose the easy way out in raising kids by not attempting to discipline them are far bigger criminals than those who smack their children.

I am definitely not in support of parents who physically or psychologically abuse their children, but I think parents should still have the right to use the rod judiciously, when absolutely necessary.

A few years ago, I had a talk with mom about her method of discipline and the concept of da shi ai.

She explained that as a mother, it hurt her infinitely more to discipline us with the cane than not to. As a parent myself now, I can totally understand where she was coming from.

Leaving most of the disciplining of our children to my wife, I find it a lot easier being Mr Nice Guy with them. I cannot imagine myself even being able to lay a finger on my two kids.

Mom told me: With every stroke, the pain extends from the tip of the cane to my whole being, but I still had to do it because I want you to turn out the best that you can be.

Nothing criminal in her thinking, is there?

Craig Smith
National Director
Family Integrity

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