There seems to be an awful lot of strangeness going around about the various aspects of the anti-smacking legislation. The police report that minor child assaults have increased from 32 to 45 a month since the inception of the new law. They dismiss this as an inconsequential increase in the police workload and thus entirely miss the point. The extra 13 cases a month either represent 156 cases of parents being persecuted for smacking, or they represent as alarming increase in children being assaulted. The anti-smacking brigade argue that this represents just and increase in reporting, but the police stats themselves suggest that good parents are being persecuted. Of the 200 cases investigated only 12 were prosecuted. That is 188 sets of parents who have been subjected to an entirely unnecessary ordeal.
But the strangeness does not end with the casual attitude of the police to pointless investigations, it also extends to absurd observations about some child-violence cases. Bomber at Tumeke! for instance, seems to think that someone who hits his daughter on the head with a piece of concrete is a pro-smacking “poster boy”. In reality the man is a simple child abuser with an anger problem whose actions would have been completely condemned under the old law. Only an idiot would think that this case has anything to do with normal parenting practices.
Tracey Barnett has a go at the Jimmy Mason case, although, in fairness, she does recognise that Mason would also have been convicted under the old law. The place where Mason’s case is different is in the fact that the first man does not deny his abuse, whereas Mason is adamant he only flicked his son’s ear rather than punched his face. This is why some of the smacking lobby seem to rally around Mason. Personally, I think that the evidence was good enough for a jury, so I am not going to dispute it. Mason is not a “poster boy” for the cause.
Which brings me to my final point. Has anyone actually been convicted of a simple light smack? It seems to me that every case I have seen in the media about this issue is unequivocal and would have been a conviction under the old law. This means that what is happening is that ordinary parenting is not being criminalised per se, but being persecuted in a hidden, uncontested manner that can only be described as subversive. It is as if the police have been given the power to stamp out smacking not through the courts, but through fear and intimidation.
I don’t know about you, but the thought of that makes me more than a little queasy.