Friday, 20 April 2007

20 April 2007 - The Dominion Post - Smacked kids hurt animals says MP

Smacked kids hurt animals says MP
MARTIN KAY - The Dominion Post | Friday, 20 April 2007

Key Labour ally Jim Anderton says men who were smacked as children are far more likely to abuse animals.

In a speech to the SPCA, the Progressives leader - who is in coalition with Labour - cited a United States Justice Department report in 1999 that said nearly 60 per cent of men who admitted mistreating animals had suffered corporal punishment from their fathers.

About a quarter said they had abused animals, but had not been physically punished as children. Corporal punishment was defined in the survey as "spanking, slapping or hitting".

Mr Anderton supports Green MP Sue Bradford's bill, which removes the statutory "reasonable force" defence for parents who smack their children for the purposes of correction. Polls show more than 80 per cent of voters are against a change to the law.

Mr Anderton said the study showed that people "emotionally damaged through violence" were more likely to be violent or have no empathy for others.

His reference to the US research was dismissed as a desperate measure by National MP Chester Borrows, who has drafted an amendment to the bill that would allow light smacking. Mr Borrows said yesterday that the research Mr Anderton used - which was based on interviews with 84 university undergraduates - was demographically flawed and inferior to other studies that showed no effects from smacking. The research "wasn't anywhere near as clear-cut as he says it was".

Mr Borrows said research from the groundbreaking New Zealand longitudinal study, which has tracked participants since birth for more than 30 years and covered a range of backgrounds, painted a much different picture.

"What you find is that children who are raised in a loving, nurturing home and who are lightly smacked are indistinguishable from those who weren't smacked."

Supporters of Ms Bradford's bill say it will remove the protection for parents who thrash their children. Opponents say it will criminalise good mothers and fathers.

The bill is set to pass comfortably with support from Labour, the Maori Party, National MP Katherine Rich, NZ First MPs Brian Donnelly and Doug Woolerton, and United Future leader Peter Dunne.

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