‘Smacking law’ needs fixing – Op Ed

Otago Daily Times 5 Jun 2009

– Richard Dawson is Pastor of St Stephens/Leith Valley Presbyterian Church.
Richard Dawson argues that rather than encouraging good parenting the “smacking law” undermines self-confidence and is actually “a form of violence against ordinary parents”. ..As the saying goes, “Give people responsibility and they will constantly amaze you”. Which is why I believe we’ve made a grave mistake with the so-called “Smacking Law”. It seems that so far it has not reduced high-end abuse but I suspect it will discourage ordinary parents from taking responsibility. In doing so, it will encourage the very worst behaviour amongst today’s parents, which is simply to absent themselves from the task.

..Parenting is perhaps one of the most important tasks anyone can take on. Our society provides virtually no training for it and very little material encouragement to parents. Now we have a law which makes a criminal out of a parent who has tried to stay in the game even though they might be getting it a bit wrong. I can’t think of anything more discouraging to young parents who already lack confidence and knowledge. The law has become a form of violence against ordinary parents who are trying to do the job, even if badly at times. We need to fix this law and find a more positive approach to parents and parenting.