For all the good intentions of the 'anti-smacking' lobby, we actually need more attention focused on the violent effects on NZ children of our current economy. In line with this idea, John Minto reflects in the Press today on his work in low-income area schools - see Poverty produces the bash. Minto argues that 'Getting "the bash" is a regular feature of many kid's lives' in communities stressed out by poverty - 'where families live day to day on earnings from low quality, low-paid jobs'. He says the real long-term solution to child abuse is 'to tackle economic change head-on'. [Read more below]
Minto notes the NZ society - and perhaps the political left - argues most fiercely over social policy because economic issues appear out of our control:
at the same time as we argue passionately over whether parents should hit their kids, it is disturbing that we express so little commitment to relieve the poverty which grinds down parents and families and is at the root of the frustration and stress which contributes so heavily to abuse of children.
Minto also has a good 'socialist' rejoinder to the Christians who are currently so gung-ho about their rights to hit their children: 'Jesus Christ is reported a having taken violent action only once, not against children but against money lenders. Now there's a clear example of Christianity in action. We need more of it.'
Interestingly, Sunday-Star Times columnist, Rosemary McLeod takes a similar approach, saying that the anti-smacking debate in Parliament has become some sort of distraction from more significant adverse effects on children:
parliament is little more than a shadow puppet show. Compared with the housing problem and its future implications, whether we smack our children or not is of little consequence, but it's the drama politicians would have us focus on these past few weeks. The harm we're doing our kids is economic, not tactile.