School sends home how-to-smack pamphlets
By ALEXANDRA BREMNER, August 24, 2005

A Panmure school has sent out a pamphlet with its latest school newsletter telling parents how to correctly spank their children.

Carey College, a private Christian school, has made the controversial move in response to Green MP Sue Bradford's anti-smacking bill.

Principal Michael Drake says the school has always supported parents' right to smack.

"We are helping parents raise children in a biblical way," Mr Drake says.

"It's balanced, it's nurturing, it's safe," he says of smacking or spanking a child.

"What is not acceptable is parents taking out their anger on kids."

Mr Drake says sending out the pamphlet is "nothing dreadful" nor illegal.

AdvertisementAdvertisementThe pamphlet, called A working definition of spanking - our home our castle, discusses the motivation, the aim, the objectives, the methods and the outcomes of smacking, including a how to smack a child guide. It was written by Family Integrity national director Craig Smith.

The school newsletter says the first steps have been taken to make the biblical practice of smacking illegal in New Zealand.

Ms Bradford's private members bill seeks to change section 59 in the Crimes Act - the reasonable force defence for caregivers facing charges for hitting a child.

Ms Bradford says she is shocked by the pamphlet.

"It's outrageous and slightly perverse," Ms Bradford says.

Ms Bradford says she is concerned at the suggestion to use a "stiff flexible rod" to spank a child and the statement "the key to spanking is LOVE".

"They are saying it is a positive thing to beat a child with an implement," she says.

Children's Commissioner Cindy Kiro says a school sending out information on how to correctly spank a child is misguided.

"It's irresponsible," Dr Kiro says.

"We know from international evidence that using that kind of physical punishment sends all the wrong messages," she says.

"It actually encourages bad behaviour. It doesn't discourage bad behaviour or encourage moral behaviour at all, quite the reverse.

"Parents should affirm things children do right, rather then physically punishing them for things they do wrong."

Dr Kiro says she has serious reservations about parents using physical discipline while describing it as an act of love.

"It sends out mixed messages," she says.

Dr Kiro says she will contact the school to discuss the issue.

Mr Smith says his motivation for writing the spanking guide was to dispel the misunderstanding of the institution of corporal correction or spanking.

"People talk about smacking, hitting, bashing as if they are the same thing. They're not," Mr Smith says.

He says he supports the Panmure school's decision to educate parents on smacking.

"Any effort to educate people about the issues, I applaud, as long as it is correct and accurate."

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