Hat tip to M and M for bringing this news story to my attention.
Remember that controversy over the anti-smacking law? The short story: The law change in New Zealand meant that absolutely any force of any kind used in the discipline of a child (such as a spank, or moving a child by force to his room, or anything else involving force) is a crime and there is no legal defence that can be made against the charge of assault in such cases. Realising that if actually applied, the law would be horribly unjust and crazy to boot, the current Prime Minister John Key (who was not in government when this law was passed) sought to put the mind of Joe public to rest by advising police and social agencies not to get carried away (my paraphrase). I’ve explained already that this is a fundamentally wrong approach to law, and I won’t revisit this here.
Fast forward to a story that appeared in today’s New Zealand Herald:
Judge turns tables on driver’s schoolboy accuser
A schoolbus driver was taken to court for grabbing the arm of a rowdy boy who would not stop pulling a girl’s hair.
But the judge threw out the charge – and had a policeman take the 12-year-old boy to the police cells as a warning.
Jim McCorkindale, 70, of Gore in Southland, told the Weekend Herald that while dropping off children last July, he saw two boys pulling the hair of a girl and got out of his driver’s seat to try to stop it.
“I went over and touched the boy on the arm to attract his attention, and that was the assault.”
When the boy did not respond to being told to stop, “I threatened to hit him in the ribs, and he flinched and let the kid’s hair go to protect his ribs”, Mr McCorkindale said.
“But I never touched him again.”
The boy had continued misbehaving after Mr McCorkindale returned to his seat.
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Children on the bus called the police and he found officers waiting to talk to him when he finished his run.
When police rejected the option of diversion, Mr McCorkindale received a court summons.
But in the Gore District Court, Judge Kevin Phillips threw out the charge.
Instead, he told the boy he should be “thoroughly ashamed” of himself and had a policeman take him to the cells, the Southland Times reported.
Mr McCorkindale said he found it disgusting that he was charged in the first place.
“You can’t do a bloody thing,” he said. “It’s better to hop out of the bus and leave them to it. See nothing.
“The days of sit down, shut up, do as you are told, are gone. When I was going to school, you did what you were told. Now, you sometimes do as you’re asked – if it suits you.”
That’s right. He took hold of the arm of a boy who was pulling a little girl’s hair, and for this, the police charged him with assault. These are the police who are being given the power to decide whether or not the law should be applied in cases of parents who use force in the correction of their children.