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Domestic CP - January 2006

Corpun file 17213

Hawkes Bay Today, 5 January 2006


Anti-smack soft-soap doesn't wash

By Pasil Taggart

The philosophy is good. It's Green, it's alternative, trendy and organic.

The Body Shop has become a worldwide phenomenon based on over-priced soap and lotions, wrapped in new-age spirituality.

But now the British-based retailer, which has tentacles all over the world, has entered the political arena in New Zealand by throwing its weight behind Green MP Sue Bradford's campaign to remove the legal defence of "reasonable force" for parents punishing their children.

Ms Bradford has a member's bill in Parliament to repeal section 59 of the Crimes Act, on which public submissions have been called.

Barrie Thomas, director of The Body Shop New Zealand, says outlets throughout the country will be encouraging the public to sign a petition that will be presented to Parliament in late February.

While positive parenting techniques work well in helping children learn how to behave, removing parents' rights to discipline their offspring is an unwarranted intrusion of the State into the home.

And before the bleeding-heart liberals in our midst begin bleating, we are not talking about child abuse - which is already illegal - but smacking.

It is ironic that the bill is in the news this week after days of drunken violence in holiday resorts the length and breadth of the country. Much of the trouble was caused by youths who were educated in a school system where corporal punishment had been outlawed.

The idea was that if the little darlings were not caned at school they would become angels who would abhor violence when they grew up. The evidence that such thinking was poppycock was there for all to see in the newspaper pictures of burning cars and attacks on police in Wanaka.

And the violence was accentuated by simple-minded politicians who voted to lower the drinking age with the deluded idea that it would somehow reduce youth drinking. Studies since have shown it has clearly made the problem worse.

Let us hope our politicians do not listen to the advice from the smelly-soap peddlers at the Body Shop and leave parents the option of disciplining unruly children with a slap on the bottom if they think fit, without the fear of being handcuffed and led away to the cells by our over-zealous boys in blue.

APN News & Media Ltd 2005.

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