“No Child’s Smacked Behind”

New Zealand’s main political parties supported a motion Wednesday to support reforms outlawing child beating. This is a laudable move in line with the rest of the first world’s increasingly progressive development.

As expected, around a thousand conservative Christians protested the new laws outside the Parliament in Wellington yesterday, decrying government attempts to interfere with the natural course of family life. Most people, however, agreed that the law was sound.

Interestingly, however, the reforms do not criminalize parents who use “inconsequential” force against their children, such as a light smack. Police have the discretion “not to prosecute complaints … involving the use of force against a child where the offense is considered so inconsequential there is no public interest in proceeding with a prosecution,” the new bill says.

“Nobody wants to see those parents marched off [for giving a child] a light tap in the supermarket,” Prime Minister Helen Clark told National Radio.

The reforms are intended to prevent children from being seriously injured or even killed by abusive parents. But these reforms still allow parents to exercise the “incredibly effective” power of violence to discipline their children as they personally judge fitting. Now “what parents judge fit” is held to a newly-set point of Decency. Or Justice.

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