TITLE

JUST WHO DO WE THINK CHILDREN ARE? NEWZEALANDERS' ATTITUDES ABOUT CHILDREN, CHILDHOOD AND PARENTING: AN ANALYSIS OF SUBMISSIONS ON THE BILL TO REPEAL SECTION 59 OF THE CRIMES ACT 1961

AUTHOR(S)
Debski, Sophie; Buckley, Sue; Russell, Marie
PUB. DATE
July 2008
SOURCE
Social Policy Journal of New Zealand;Jul2008, Issue 34, p100
SOURCE TYPE
Academic Journal
DOC. TYPE
Article
ABSTRACT
A research project analysed a sample of the submissions to Parliament in 2006 on the Bill to repeal section 59 of the Crimes Act 1961. S.59 had provided a defence to parents accused of assaulting their children, the defence being that they used force for the purpose of correction. The project examined two particular contrasting social viewpoints of children -- children as "human beings" and as "human becomings" -- and whether these two viewpoints were implicated in people's views on the use of physical punishment. The research hypothesis was that people who advocate the use of physical punishment are more likely to conceptualise childhood as a phase of development, where the child is on his/her way to becoming an adult, unable to reason and in need of constant guidance from adults; in other words, that children are human becomings. Alongside this, we hypothesised that people who see childhood as a complete state in its own right, and see children as fully developed at whichever age and stage they are in, having full human rights and contributing to society -- the human beings view -- are more likely to reject physical punishment. We found that submitters expressing a view of children as human beings were more likely to oppose physical punishment and support repeal, whereas people who saw children as human becomings favoured physical punishment and opposed the Bill. There were also gender and location differences among the submitters. Lessons for parent education include the need to examine and address people's deepest beliefs and attitudes about children and childhood.
ACCESSION #
41873651

 

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