Has anybody noticed that the review of changes to section 59 of the Crimes Act has missed the point entirely? The review tries to make out that the police are not using the law to persecute parents who lightly smack their children. This is probably true (though I should add “at the moment” here because who knows what a future socialist government might get up to). But the review misses the entire point of the anti-smacking bill, which was to reduce child abuse. Yet we have these statistics:
“There has been a big rise in the number of reports and convictions for assault on a child under 14 years. The number of recorded complaints of assault rose 69 per cent between 2006 and 2008, from 845 to 1429, and the number of convictions rose 64 per cent, from 158 to 259.
“There has also been a big rise in notifications to Child, Youth and Family for suspected cases of child abuse – up from 71,927 to 110,797 between 2006 and last year.
“Substantiated cases of abuse were up from 2274 to 2855 over the same period, but Mr Hughes said that did not mean more people were being dobbed in for smacking since most of the increase had been referrals from police. [emphasis mine]”
Now Larry Baldock is wrong when he says:
“the big increase in CYF notifications from police showed officers had been wasting their time checking parents.”
Nope. While it is possible that the big increase in police notifying CYFS represents the minor cases that they don’t want to spend time on (very likely), the really interesting figures are that the conviction rate rose by 64% while the ratio of complaints to convictions remain fairly static (fell from 18.7% to 18.1%). Yet the number referred to CYFS (minor cases) rose by 54% and most were from the police. This tells us that it is likely that the rise in convictions is not because more people are being “dobbed in” but because there are more cases of child abuse. If “dobbing in” was a significant factor, one would expect a sharp rise in minor reports and a drop in the ratio of complaints to convictions.
It is MacDoctor’s theory that the anti-smacking legislation is causing parents (whose child-rearing skills were admittedly poor to start with) to not discipline their children at all. Toddlers quickly become unruly without defined boundaries. An out-of -control toddler combined with a parent with poor parenting skills is simply a recipe for abuse. It does not surprise me the the result of the repeal of section 59 is an increase in child abuse.
Of course, it was never about child abuse, just parental control.