Yesterday I did something that I almost immediately regretted. I read Bob McCoskrie’s Family First’s report setting out how the anti smacking legislation was the cause of all that is wrong with Aotearoa New Zealand’s children.
In the report he lays out a series of statistics which have deteriorated since 2007. Statistics involving such things as:
My initial response while reading the report was to say that correlation is not causation. Again and again and again.
My second response was that the report completely ignores increasing levels of poverty and the effects. If you want to find the cause of worsening statistics for children then poverty and not the very occasional prosecution for assault.
My third response was “holy shifting goal posts”. When was it promised that changing this law would resolve child misery and stop sexual offending?
The change to the law has had very limited effect on prosecution rates. The Police’s two year report after the law was enacted determined that over that time there was one prosecution for smacking and 13 for minor acts of physical discipline and warnings given in a further 201 cases. The smacking prosecution was withdrawn by leave. The other prosecutions were dealt with by bottom of the range sanctions including diversion, discharge without conviction, being convicted and discharged and being ordered to come up for sentence if called upon. The claim that innocent parents would be behind bars immediately after the law was passed did not occur.
The report has however had cheerleaders on the right spike up. Paul Henry says that the report contains “rock solid statistics”. He must have rocks in his head. And Larry Williams decries the failure of the law change to solve child abuse then rants about “feral parents” and “mongrels”. Don’t hold back Larry.
One of McCoskrie complaints is how the legislation is so difficult to understand. He does have a point. THE FAULT IS WOTH THE POLITICIANS WHO MADE A PIGS EAR OF THE DRAFTING AND DECIDED TO PUT ALL SORTS OF EXCEPTIONS INTO IT. The original bill was much more streamlined and easy to understand.
Bob McCoskrie would have us believe that the law change is responsible for a significant increase in the plight of children and the undermining of families. He has presented some statistics but completely ignores societal trends and blames change on a law change that had limited practical effect and no apparent causal relationship. And he completely ignores the limited practical effect the law change has had.
If this was a research paper presented as part of coursework I suspect it would receive a grading of F.