Media Release 10 August 2012
Family First NZ says that the suspension of a Methven bus driver for controlling an unruly 5 year old is ‘nonsensical’ and a further example of a flawed approach to reasonable force and the ‘anti-smacking’ push.
“When a bus driver is suspended for attempting to control a hyperactive and boisterous 5 year old, to ensure that child’s safety, and to ensure that children are transported to and from home in a timely fashion, then it is quite evident that we have lost the common sense approach. It also shows the folly of the anti-smacking law and the confusion around reasonable force,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
“It’s rather difficult to put an unruly child in the ‘time out’ corner on a bus, or to give positive reinforcement – as the so-called experts would demand. And how long does the bus driver wait for the child to comply? 10 minutes? One hour?”
In 2010, Gore bus driver Jim McCorkindale was prosecuted by the police for controlling a teenager who was threatening other students, but his case was thrown out by the Judge. Despite this, the police admitted they would prosecute again in similar circumstances. This shows that there is an urgent need to clarify the anti-smacking law and the ‘reasonable force’ law relating to adults and teachers supervising children.
“These cases will have the adverse effect of parents and teachers becoming too afraid to administer any physical control or restraint of children. Children have received the message that adults can not touch them or even tell them what to do. This seriously undermines the authority of parents, teachers, and even the police themselves – hence the increasing violence and disrespect towards parents, teachers and police.”
“The law needs to be clarified in NZ so that teachers, parents, and supervisors of children are able to operate with the knowledge of a clear and consistent application of the law. There is a fundamental principle that the law should allow us all to know in advance what is lawful and what is not,” says Mr McCoskrie.
“We are quickly creating an unsafe environment where children know their rights, but not their wrongs. Restoring authority will make our children happier and our communities and schools safer.”