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Corporal punishment bullshit

Written By: - Date published: 7:53 am, May 16th, 2010 - 33 comments
Categories: child discipline, polls - Tags: , ,

Family First have a history of trying to make political capital out of stacked questions. They’re are at it again, distorting the results of a survey question to push for bringing back corporal punishment in schools. They are aided and abetted by some spectacularly bad journalism, here’s the worst example:

Bring the cane back in schools

Half of New Zealanders support the reintroduction of corporal punishment in schools, according to a national survey of 1000 people.

No they don’t.

The poll, by Curia Market Research, asked: “Do you think a school should be able to choose to use corporal punishment, if the board, parents and principal wish to have this as an option for school discipline?” Fifty per cent agreed, 44 per cent disagreed and 6 per cent were undecided.

Right. So what actually happened was that only 50% of respondents can be talked into considering corporal punishment even if the board, parents and principal want it. The question has been set up so that to oppose corporal punishment you have to feel strongly enough about it to overrule the board, parents and principal. Leading question much? If you want to ask if schools should be allowed to use corporal punishment without writing your own answer, here’s how you do it:

“Do you think a school should be able to choose to use corporal punishment?”

From the leading question to the ludicrous headline “Bring the cane back in schools”? No. I have a better idea. Bring the quality back in reporting. Fat chance it seems. This reporter cited the original question, and so should have been able to work out that the conclusion that Family First are pushing was rubbish. Some other reports do the same, some just repeat the nonsense conclusion:

TVNZ: In a poll which asked 1,000 people if a school should be able to choose to use corporal punishment as an option for school discipline. 50% responded yes, 44% said no and 6% didn’t know.

Radio NZ: The lobby group Family First says a survey shows half of New Zealanders support the reintroduction of corporal punishment in schools.

International: Support For Corporal Punishment In Schools – Poll

Family First NZ says that half of NZ’ers support corporal punishment in schools, and the events of the past week may have pushed that support higher.

And so on. This is part of an ongoing Family First campaign to try and link school violence and corporal punishment. From 2009, for example:

School violence blamed on removal of corporal punishment

A big increase in the number of primary school children suspended for violent acts is being blamed on the removal of corporal punishment in schools. Figures from the Ministry of Education show a 88 percent increase in suspensions of eight-year-olds from 2000 to 2008 for assaults on classmates, a 73 percent rise for seven-year-olds, a 70 percent increase for six–year-olds while the suspensions over the same period had increased by 33 percent for five-year-olds.

“It is significant that as schools have removed corporal punishment, schools have become more violent,” Family First national director Bob McCoskrie said today.

Right, two things. First, notice how McCroskie is making claims about schools, but the data applies only to primary schools. In secondary schools (2008) we have a very different picture:

Suspension rates in New Zealand schools have hit an eight year low, Education Minister Chris Carter announced today. The figures have been published in the Ministry of Education’s annual Student Engagement Report, which tracks suspensions, stand-downs, expulsions and exclusions. … The age standardised suspension rate has decreased by 17 per cent since 2000 including a 6.1 per cent reduction from 2006 to 2007.

So with their strongest case Family First can only argue in favour of beating primary kids. Nice. Second thing. Their strongest case is still crap. An increase in suspensions since 2000? More violence in primary since they removed corporal punishment? So when was corporal punishment abolished exactly? Newsflash, corporal punishment has been illegal in schools since 1990. So, what, it took the kiddies ten years to notice that they weren’t getting whacked any more? That’s an absolutely watertight case of cause and effect. Not.

The fact that the underlying argument for bringing back corporal punishment is complete crap only emphasises the duplicity of Family First pushing their agenda driven distortion of the survey, and the pathetic reporting of the issue to date. Lift your game journos. Family First are fruitcakes (yes that’s a technical term). Stop taking anything they say at face value.

33 comments on “Corporal punishment bullshit ”

  1. Kevin Welsh 1

    It never fails to amaze me that in a modern society, the only answers you ever get from Family Fist is to assault someone, and the lengths they will go to to prove that this is the answer to everything.

  2. schrodigerscat 2

    Interesting, looks like you go to Curia to tell them what you want, and they will frame a question to get that result.

    And he calls that bullsh*t market research and polling.

    curia inquisition leading questions …

    • Lanthanide 2.1

      There was a comment in an article in the Listener saying exactly that. Saying that David Farrar runs Curia, a polling company that’ll get poll results to prove your PoV.

  3. Kaplan 3

    Farrar, really does have his fingers in a whole lot of undemocratic crap lately doesn’t he.

  4. mach1 4

    Heck, I can name some of the sadistic arseholes who enjoy a reputation as great educators but were nothing more than violent criminals who routinely assaulted children with weapons.The injuries those pricks inflicted on children ranged from whelts and bruises that lasted weeks through to head injuries and injuries to childrens genitals.

    I’ll even draw a bow between corporal punishment and sexual offending. In 1969 as a fourth former at Hamilton Boys High School I was assaulted by the deputy head on a Friday. He was arrested the following week and charged with sexual misconduct involving a fellow fourth former and never returned to the school.
    If you look at websites connected with the school you’ll find that any reference to the prick has been expunged but the pedophile went on to teach in a polytechnic and to represent staff at a national level. The boy bunting arsehole even found fame as an historian of note.

  5. Bring the quality back in reporting.

    Have you read news reports from forty or fifty years ago?

    When was the golden age of New Zealand newspaper journalism back to which you hark?

  6. Peter Martin 6

    ‘When was the golden age of New Zealand newspaper journalism back to which you hark?’

    It coincided with the golden age of kids never playing up in schools.

  7. philu 7

    you can also see distorted ‘research’ from farrar/curia in the decision to pull the rug from under tuhoe..

    (and chris finlayson..but that’s another story..finlayson is maybe as angry as many in tuhoe..but for different reasons..)

    i cover that dodgy-research question in this piece/op-ed..

    http://whoar.co.nz/2010/commentwhoaron-things-banksboagralstonfarrarand-lets-not-forget-bhatnagarehthe-horse-people-of-the-auckland-apocolypseeh/

    “..and anyone looking for the reasons key did the dirty on tuhoe..

    ..need look no further that the ‘focus-groups’ run by farrar in that centre/ghetto of auckland white-flight the north shore..

    surprise..!..surprise..! .they all leant in with the panic/racist point of view..

    ..is that the result farrar ..and those who ‘advise’ him wanted/were angling for ?

    ‘cos..y’know..!..i cd gather a bunch of racist north shoreites..(lots of sth africans in the mix there..?..farrar..?..)..and come up with the same result..

    whereas anyone not from that demograph..looks at the historical-facts/that case for tuhoe..and goes..’fuck..!..they were ripped-off/screwed-over..eh..?..

    ..why not give them back the ureweraweras..?..at the very least..?..

    (i mean..are white middle-class/rich-folks wanting to flock there to build ‘beach-houses..?

    no..!..’cos the settlers/colonialists stole all the tuhoe ‘good-land/coastal-access..eh..?

    ..and pushed them back into the bush )

    (i mean..even chris finlayson ..keys’ attorney-general sees no problem with returning..in some form..’ownership’ for tuhoe.

    ..and as a stickler for procedure..i am picking he is spitting tacks over key pulling the rug from under him

    ..in such a pre-emptory/sudden/direction-changing manner..)

    of course..when considering farrar..(nationals’ chief-spinner’)..it pays to take into account that he runs the rightwing blog..kiwiblog..

    ..and if you go there..(i wd advise donning full-body protection before entry..i always do..)

    ..there you will find a forum for the most vile/racist attitudes towards maori..and any idea of any restitution for past wrongs..

    ..and farrar ..while censuring/banning those critical of the vile ideas peddled in that little sewer..

    never demurrs and these racists..and their racist-poison..

    ..they are enabled/have free-rein to say whatever they like about maori..(or as they say..’maari’ )

    ..that could not be a clearer indication of where farrar is coming from

    ..and i wonder if key realises he has likely been ‘played’..by darker/racist forces within the national party/this govt..)..

    ..he has been ‘played’ by the reactionaries

    ..aided and abetted by the centre-of-white-flight-chosen ‘focus-groups’ ”

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

  8. Galeandra 8

    ROB Everyone spins!! You cite the significant decrease in suspensions/standowns in secondary as evidence without appreciating the situation behind the statistics at all. In my experience a lot of difficult/dangerous students are still allowed to attend because schools are seriously discouraged from suspending & expelling by the MoE.
    I think corporal punishment would actually make things really worse: I can’t see immature and volatile young ruffians willingly bending over any day soon, but that is an opinion quite aside from moral or legal considerations.
    To take official data on surface appearance is quite futile. Witness the nonsense talked about literacy outcomes at various levels: everyone chews happily on the tables of outcomes without ever considering what the data actually consist of ie how exactly it was derived. Let me assure you that stand-downs don’t measure student behaviour anymore than a record of achieving ‘Literacy’ in Level 1 NCEA English tells me that a school leaver will be a competent reader in an adult workplace.

    • Frank 8.1

      As a recently retired secondary school teacher in an all boys school in the South Island I can vouch for the report by Galeandra that the MOE pressured schools to desist from suspensions in order to fit in with Govt. policy. I had boys commiting serious crimes in my classes. (2006/07) They were protected from civil law charges in that they had, at the time, not attained the age of 16 years. But, the school refused to suspend them and put them back in my classes.
      The evidence for increased suspensions when corporeal punishment is removed is well documented. I believe that suspension numbers were fudged by only reporting those that were suspended from the school grounds. In school suspensions I believe were not counted.
      Corporeal punishment is more effective at curbing unwanted behaviour than giving a boy a holiday at home and it keeps him in the classroom

  9. felix 9

    While we’re at it, can we stop referring to this sadistic freak as “Family First”?

    It’s just one guy after all. No need to give his views more weight than any other one guy.

    • QoT 9.1

      I do sometimes ponder just how easy it must be to set up a bogus Concerned Citizens organisation, put out a few inflammatory press releases, and BOOM! become the media’s go-to person on the basis of absolutely nothing. I mean, if Bob McCoskrie can do it …

  10. Yeah family first, cops second, army third. Recipe for stability in the new social order.
    Captcha, pointless, first time its been wrong.

  11. fatty 11

    Family first should be called delusion first.
    I’m sure Jesus is real proud of Bob and his mates, advocating smacking children and locking people up for longer.
    Thats what Jesus would be wanting if he was living here right?
    Instead of helping people, as Jesus did for most of his life, they point the finger and make life more difficult for those in need.
    Bob do something useful with your life, you hurt people and you are detrimental to your religion.

  12. BLiP 12

    Have I got this right – to stop violence in schools, we need more violence? Brilliant.

  13. Descendant Of Smith 13

    As a third former at NPBHS I was caned a lot. My tally was 1st term 48, second term 42, 3rd term 24. That was only the caning from the teachers mind you – this didn’t include the caning from the prefects with bamboo.

    This caning all occurred in the boarding context. In 5 years at that school I was caned once in the fifth form for playing soccer in the hallway with a rubbish bin.

    My misdemeanors were simple ones that any third former should have known better about:
    I was small
    I wore glasses
    I came from a small town
    I played soccer at a rugby school – this was particularly important to the hockey players cause it diverted attention away from them
    I was bright
    I stood up for myself – particularly verbally
    Someone has been at the school previously from my own town who was a bit thick so therefore I must have been by association
    I was on a scholarship
    My parents didn’t go there

    and so on.

    The only thing caning taught me was about how some people – teachers and prefects included abused the power they had. In many respects I was resilient and didn’t suffer greatly from this. There were plenty of others who did suffer though.

    When as a 13 year old you are sent along to the teacher to be caned by the prefect running prep that night and the teacher asks you why have you been sent and you say ” The prefect told me to come along and ask to be caned” and that teacher canes you, without any hesitation, you know there is something quite wrong with the adults in that place.

    This doesn’t even remotely come near to the bullying that occurred either.

    I was talking to a mother once who has a son in jail for murder. He like me went to boarding school, his school was Te Aute. She sent away a quiet nice kid. The only change in behaviour she noticed when he was home was he ate his food fast. She just put that down to growth spurts.

    It seems clear that part of his struggle with violence later in life was a reaction to this bullying and in responding based on what he had learned through these years.

    Since he has been in jail for murder he has talked about the bullying from prefects and seniors and how this was condoned by certain teachers. His experiences are not dissimilar to mine and others I was at school with.

    My observation over the years is that it is not the bullies at school who have problems with violence later in life – it is those who are set upon and bullied. My resilience – I make a point of staying calm and not getting angry – is often the exception.

    For the most part it will further vicitimise people like myself who had done little wrong but were not of the chosen ones.

    For those who come from violent homes it will do nothing but reinforce violence as being OK. If you think that caning is any more a punishment than the hidings we got (they get) from our fathers you would be quite delusional. Compared to being held up in one hand and thrashed with a hand or a belt caning was nothing to many of us.

    Comparing the welts and seeing if blood was drawn was the norm.

  14. To stop violence in schools, we need a zero torleance policy of violence.. The teachers need to set an example.

    I dont see how hitting kids will send them the message that violence is wrong.

  15. 350ppm 15

    What would the headline have been if the question was: “Do you think a school should be able to choose NOT to use corporal punishment, if the board, parents and principal DO NOT wish to have this as an option for school discipline?’

  16. RobtDavies 16

    A well researched piece by a namesake, and yes, a glaring example (as if one were needed) of the almost endemic flaws in New Zealand’s mainstream media. Never did I think that at 27 I’d have developed quite enough cynicism toward the “repeaters” playing with their iPhones to start actively avoiding the television from 6pm onwards, and to see now that the laziness once restricted to *the* television media has spread across to *our* Radio NZ, good God, resistance seems futile.

    People who take Family First seriously might once have been dismissed as fringe. Now, apparently, they’re legitimate enough to commission research (did they really?) and make spectacularly broad statements accusing one-in-two Kiwis of small mindedness, statements our “liberal” (?) media take seriously enough to repeat to every Tom, Dick and Harry as if they came from the mouth of Christ himself.

    All of this has come about because of our appetite for instant, as opposed to considered, reporting. News isn’t newsworthy if it can be reported on almost immediately after it occurs. TVNZ and its competitors spend millions posting their dapper up-and-comers all over the show – here and abroad – for the obligatory live cross or extra special “breaking” news feed. There’s no time for analysis, reflection, understanding of context. Godsake, by the time you’ve indulged all that nonsense the other bugger has been running with the hysteria for a good day or so, and will probably win a Qantas award for their trouble.

    Where does that leave you?

    Best get on top of the story early on. After all, 50% of Kiwis think bringing the cane back to school will teach the ne’er-do-wells a lesson and save teachers from working under the constant threat of attacks by protractor.

    • Turn off the TV 16.1

      Where that leaves me is here, getting my news from blogs rather than the TV 🙂

  17. A Nonny Moose 17

    Rule by Fear, small minded person.

  18. Coz 18

    O.k I am hearing alot of anti-caning enthusiasts out there. I have kids and a I am concerned not because the re-introduction of the cane back into schools, but more because of what is the alternatives to making the school a safer place, where I know that my boys are safe to learn. It is documented that the negative behaviour is rising, and that the bullying has risen to an all time high, not only that but how the bullying is being carried out. Are people aware of the sorts of activities that go on outside of school time on school grounds organised by students because they know teachers have their hands tied therefore do nothing, besides the fact they are shit scared.. Give me some alternatives, I do not hear anything better coming from this argument, just alot of hot wind, albeit from possibly kids still at school. I myself attended boarding school and had my stripes, the point is 380 of us brothers lived happily within that very staunch school, boundaries were very clear. My best school years enjoyed there. I want some alternatives from out there, because what I see is that the cane is a bloody good deterrent if nothing else…..

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