Thursday, March 19, 2009

What is "acceptable" child beating?

One of the aims of John Boscawen's repeal of the anti-child-beating law is to give parents certainty about what the law permits. While the bill itself has not been released - they're still working on the explanatory note - it is apparently based on Chester Borrows' failed amendments during the original law's committee stage - amendments which were ultimately rejected by his own party, and by the vast majority of the House when Rodney Hide put them up. It would, among other things, define what constitutes "reasonable force", and specifically excludes the use of any "weapon, tool or other implement". But while this disarms cracks about the old "rule of thumb", it still leaves a number of questions about what Mr Boscawen considers an "acceptable" use of force against children. For example:

Open hand or closed fist?
On the face, limbs, or torso?
Punching or kicking?
Throwing? Choking?
Crushing? Stomping?

Enumerating this list shows the reality behind Boscawen's bland legal statements. It shows the horror of what this law will permit (in a "loving", "caring" way, "for their own good", of course). And it shows the simple truth: there is no such thing as an "acceptable" level of violence against children, any more than there is an "acceptable" level of violence against women, or men, or old people, or anyone else. None whatsoever. Protection from violence is the most basic of all human rights, and the very reason for the existence of the state. We cannot deny it to criminals, we cannot deny it to children, and anyone who thinks differently is nothing but a sadistic monster.