Colin Craig; unilaterally supporting the harm of children.

By   /   January 14, 2014  /   43 Comments

TDB recommends Voyager - Unlimited internet @home as fast as you can get

I see hitting as a default that is used out of parental frustration or lack of time or resources to dedicate to relearning parenting-skills.


The law isn’t stupid, Colin Craig.

There is a metric tonne of research that shows how harmful smacking is and you intentionally choose to ignore that. When you spank your children you’re harming them, you need to read the research and upskill – immediately – as does anyone else who still smacks.

Smacking has been shown to have a negative impact on cognitive, mental and behavioural development, is related to violence against partners in dating relationships and undermines parent-child trust bonds. It has been shown to decrease long-term compliance and be no more efficacious than time out. It increases children’s risk of aggressive behaviour toward peers and often has a racial, gender and ability bias. It is irresponsible and socially harmful for any politician or parent to come out in support of spanking. It is time we all work together to challenge these harmful, archaic notions and provide parents and communities with the tools, support and resources to drop that which is harmful and create more nourishing household environments for all.

First I’m going to throw some studies at you, and then I’m going to talk about my own experiences as a new parent.

Corporal punishment of children linked to violence against partners in dating relationships:

Long-term compliance is decreased after spanking. Spanking is no more effective than time out:

Spanking increases risk of children’s aggressive behaviour:

Spanking has a negative impact on cognitive and behavioural development:

Corporal punishment in schools had a gender, ability and racial bias:

More on the racial bias:

Spanking causes aggression toward childhood peers:

Spanking by parents causes anti-social behaviour in children with links to violence in broader society:

More on antisocial behaviour:

Spanking under-2s causes behavioural problems:

This is an American study but there is a huge amount of research that implies low socioeconomic status results in more spanking:

Spanking negatively impacts mental health:

Spanking predicts lower mental development and higher aggression:

If you haven’t realised yet, spanking is very, very bad – for everyone.

This is how I feel about smacking personally as a parent:

My son understood “no” from 12 months of age.

But like all children, sometimes he listens to me and sometimes he doesn’t. In my relationship with him – just like in my relationships with adults – sometimes I have to accept that he will do what I want and sometimes he will refuse. I have to tolerate this. There are times when listening to me is of vital importance to his physical safety. So I have a legitimate need to have authority at times and there are various ways I can achieve this. He inherently seeks my love and approval and looks to me for safety and to provide for all of his needs. So if I am stern with him or say “no” this can be distressing to him. I have a great responsibility to handle him with care.

I do not want to cause him any harm physically and I want to deliver – very strongly – the message that as individuals we respect the bodies of other people, but more importantly I do not want to cause him harm socially. If I template hitting as a reasonable response to emotional distress, he will see hitting as an inherently reasonable response to his own emotion. I have no basis to ask him to stop hitting others, or me, if I hit him. I don’t want him to hit within his dating relationships in future, I want him to have the best possible emotional and mental health outcomes. So with this in mind I strive to give him the skills to verbalise his emotions from his pre-verbal stage. I do this by putting words to his emotions for him and templating clear expression of my own emotions. I say “I can see you are feeling angry, that makes sense, how about we…”, I ask him how he feels or what he would like, I say things like “I feel angry” or “I feel sad” or “I feel happy” so that clear communication of feelings is normal to him. Sometimes I say “I don’t want you to climb on me now” and I also respect it when I can see he is offering pre-verbal cues that indicate he doesn’t want to be touched or picked up. I offer him hugs if I can see his emotions are overwhelming, though he doesn’t seem prone to melt-downs at this stage.

Alternate ways of asserting authority when his safety is required include; a stern “no”, clapping loudly to get his attention, distraction, removing him from the source of harm.

I see hitting as a default that is used out of parental frustration or lack of time or resources to dedicate to relearning parenting-skills. I understand parental frustration, sometimes you’ve dedicated full attention to someone for well over 12 hours without a rest and you feel uptight and want everyone to go away so you can just finally relax. I understand lack of free time; there are a lot of parents out there, with barely any support and no breaks and it’s a terrible shame that some people’s lives are nothing but 24/7 rotation of work both outside and inside of the home. It doesn’t help the parents and it doesn’t help the children. But it’s important for us all to take the time and make the effort to correct a harmful social trend – sometimes that involves more than just relearning skills – as parents it also involves reaching out to friends and family when the frustration levels and exhaustion peak. It involves an understanding that body autonomy is something we should consider; the right to say no to touch and the right to be safe from hitting is fundamental to all of us for the entirety of our life. It involves a requirement from politicians to consider those who are under terrible strain and find novel ways of alleviating the pressure some parents are under.

This isn’t a time for a politician to be supporting that which has been shown to harm children. It is a time for those we seek to lead to be thinking about new ways of introducing support to exhausted parents and how to support the good emotional health of families. This isssue is relevant to all of us no matter where we fall on the political spectrum.

These are my take-aways and I hope you’ll embrace the spirit of this:

~ Smacking is something we ought to bring to an end.

~ If someone is smacking their children; consider first gently speaking to them about it and asking them what support they might need to embrace alternatives, then follow through with that support. That might be something as simple as giving them rest time, or helping with chores. This isn’t about creating a culture of shame, but an environment where we all feel we have the resources to do the best for our family.

~ Yelling at children can also create harm, please consider this also.

~ If someone is seriously harming their children; consider contacting agencies for support.

~ Finally, don’t vote for Colin Craig – please.

Want to support this work? Donate today
Follow us on Twitter & Facebook


  1. Papa Tuanuku says:

    The issue for me isn’t what he thinks of smacking, it’s the gaming of the system by rich politicians and compliant media. The comment is from an unelected rich white man. Why is what he says more newsworthy than what say, the Greens are currently saying?
    If I, as an unelected individual, made a statement about this issue, could I please have it also reported on page 3 of the papers?
    MMP is shamelessy gamed by rich white parties and I think it’s anti-democratic for media organisations to give him so much air time. Can we make this the issue?

    • Kathy says:

      Yes Papa Tuanuku, another absolutely excellent point to add to the many Jesse so eloquently stated

    • Merrial says:

      @ Papa Tuanuku: I wholeheartedly agree with you. Every time I hear this man waffling on in radio interviews, I wonder why they’re giving him airtime – and not me, for instance? I’m damned sure I’d make more sense….

  2. raegun says:

    I know I shouldn’t say this, but this guy looks just plain crazy to me, and I base part of my judgement of that on the shots of him walking down the beach. He has a real Mr Bean demeanour about him. He has mad eyes.
    He has not helped his case with the whole conspiracy theories thing, either. No-one in their right mind gives most of these things any breathing room whatsoever, Colin Craig did. Oh yes, backtracking now like his life depends on it, but I really think he holds a few nutty views there.
    I would also hazard a guess and say he is an obsessive-compulsive as well

    • Danyl Strype says:

      I don't give much credence to chemtrail or moon-landing hoax theories, but I know a number of intelligent, educated, competent people who do.

      >> He has not helped his case with the whole conspiracy theories thing, either. No-one in their right mind gives most of these things any breathing room whatsoever <<

      This sort of smug dismissal does nothing but encourage anyone with dissenting views to vote Conservative. Please stop it.

  3. lolitas brother says:

    Craig does not have mad eyes they are slightly separated, in an opposite way to cross eyed. As unsatisfying as it may be to a moron like Raegun JANUARY 14, 2014 AT 11:00 AM, Craig is bright and will probably be instrumental in returning a conservative Government
    NZ Nat led.

    • raegun says:

      And on the whole conspiracy theory thing? And as for binding referenda, like Switzerland, you mean binding referenda that prevented women from gaining the vote till the 1970s.
      We are meant to PROGRESS not regress
      Conservatism is for old men in clubs, whisky in one hand, cigar in the other, starting every sentence with, “In my day”

    • Merrial says:

      @ Lolitas Brother: resorting to ad hominem attacks of this sort does nothing to advance your argument. Play the ball and all that…..

  4. raegun says:

    Saw a comment on another forum which went a bit like this. “The other day I saw a father mentally abusing his kid. Mental abuse is worse, it would have been better if he’d been able to give his child a slap on the bottom than that”
    I am not even going to comment on that, but that is an example of the sort of person who wants the “smacking law” repealed. This is madness

  5. raegun says:

    PS I also wouldn’t mind a quick count up of who is a Conservative Party supporter, would anyone, like me, be surprised if it does not consist of mostly people whose child rearing years are long past

  6. Psycho Milt says:

    It was pretty annoying when MPs decided it would be great to make criminals of the majority of NZ’s parents, but that was nothing like as annoying as reading all the sanctimonious ur-doin-it-wrong posts from handwringers.

    Just for the record: when you have no authority over your children, when they regard your telling them to do something as just the opening bid in a negotiation, when they’re throwing a tantrum in the supermarket and you’re standing there pleading with them ineffectually and basically declaring your parental incompetence to all present, you’re also harming your children, and also storing up relational difficulties for them later on.

    Worse: when you, especially as a childcare worker or teacher, tell other people’s kids that if they get a smack on the arse they shouldn’t reconsider the advisability of what they were doing immediately before they got smacked, but instead consider themselves the victims of criminally bad parenting, you’re harming them far worse than the parent who gives them a whack.

    • Years of Counselling says:

      “…when you have no authority over your children…”

      Hey Psycho, when I was a child, my grandmother could get any of her grandchildren to comply simply by threatening to frown at us. She was an unerringly peaceful, smiley woman, and we loved her so much, the idea of making her unhappy was enough to check us.

      My parents on the other hand were well into smacking. My father would give us “6 of the best”, sometimes with a leather strap, and mother would lash out with the wooden spoon, or just threaten “wait til your father comes home” and make him smack us as soon as he walked in the door. I never respected them, and did everything I could to resist them. One day I buried that leather strap in the garden, to stop my father from hurting myself and my siblings with it. Sometimes, I fantasized about taking a kitchen knife and murdering my parents in their sleep, so they could never hurt us again.

      After years of counselling, I have broken the cycle of abuse, but my parents still swear black and blue that what they did was loving parental discipline, and for our own good. Along with marriage equality, the child abuse (“anti-smacking”) bill was one of the few truly great things the NZ parliament has ever done. Build a bridge, and get over it.

      Oh, and by the way:
      “when they’re throwing a tantrum in the supermarket and you’re standing there pleading with them ineffectually”

      When children do this, it usually means they have lost emotional control, and become unable to calm down. Hitting them in this situation, as well as being violent, is also public humiliation, and can only make it harder. Enfolding them in a hug, even if they squirm and resist it at first, is the best way to help them calm down. This is the only reasonable force when it comes to children.

      • Psycho Milt says:

        Do you think the fact that “after years of counselling, you have broken the cycle of abuse” might suggest that your experience isn’t what I was referring to?

        Build a bridge, and get over it.

        I have. Craig’s pushing shit uphill with a fork if he imagines there’s some chance of Parliament revisiting this issue, and only a few like-minded nutters around the country would want them to. But if bloggers want to post about it, I’m happy to comment.

        Oh, and by the way:

        You could just use the short version: ur doin it wrong.

    • Merrial says:

      @ Psycho Milt: I conclude that you haven’t brought up kids. I have – a longish time ago, as it happens.

      Pretty much all of the behaviour that people want to belt little kids for – like the supermarket tanty – is a feature of that stage in their development. I can assure you that whacking a toddler for throwing a wobbly does absolutely no good at all. They’re not being willful: it’s just what they do at that stage in their lives, and belting them for it won’t correct the behaviour at all. All a parent can do is to carry them outside and wait for calm to resume. They grow out of it, I can assure you! Many’s the time I’ve carried a screaming board out of a shopping centre: everybody goes through it, and people who claim their kids never did it, have either forgotten or are telling you a revisionist history.

      The truth is, by the time our kids are cognitively mature enough to understand why they’re being hit for some misdemeanor or other, they’re pretty much too old for it to be efficaceous.

      You can have authority over your children and run a tight disciplinary ship, without ever hitting them. Don’t listen to people like Colin Craig.

      • Psycho Milt says:

        I conclude that you haven’t brought up kids.

        Your conclusion is incorrect. And, like “Years of Counselling,” you could just use the short version: ur doin it wrong.

        More and: of course, not doing it like you did should be a crime, right?

        • Merrial says:

          @ Psycho Milt: With regard to child-rearing, there’s more than one way to skin the disciplinary cat. But none of those ways should involve hitting our kids. And yes, since it is now a crime to hit a spouse or pet animals, it should also be a crime to hit children.

          • Psycho Milt says:

            See, that’s the thing: you think a lot of, possibly even most of, NZ’s parents are criminals. Serious political leverage for Mr Craig right there.

            Presumably we’re in agreement at least on the matter of increased political leverage for Colin Craig not being a good thing?

            • Merrial says:

              A very similar argument was once used about drink-driving: if almost all of us do it, how can it be criminal?

              Shifts in societal attitudes towards some practices usually take a long time; often – drink-driving and seatbelt-wearing, for instance – law changes to bring about the desired behaviour change are well out in front of attitude changes.

              There’s a health education principle which applies here: the PRECEDE model, that is, changes in practice precede changes in attitude. If we wait until society changes its attitude to something before we make laws against it, we’ll be waiting a perishing long time.

              Colin Craig is irrelevant, but attempting to shush up opposition to his views on the grounds that he’ll get a bounce in the polls from that opposition is defeatist.

              • Psycho Milt says:

                Defeatist? The law was changed, the fight’s over. No defeat is looming, or even possible at this point.

                Unless someone kicks it all off again, of course – which is exactly what Craig is doing. So all this ranting about how parents who don’t do it like you did are crap parents and criminals to boot isn’t “defeatist,” because you already won. But words like “counterproductive” or even “stupid” come to mind.

                • Merrial says:

                  @ Psycho Milt: groan…. you yourself pointed out that Craig has raised the issue. Of course people will debate it: that’s what the to-and-fro of politics is about.

                  He believes that he’s got a catchment of the vote which thinks like he does; it’s to be expected that those of us who disagree will say so.

                  Never say never: Parliament can change its mind about legislation; has done so in the past. The battle for rights of this sort has been hard-fought; the price of protection of those rights is constant vigilance. Just ask the women of Turkey. Women in some parts of the UK too, come to that.

                  • Psycho Milt says:

                    He believes that he’s got a catchment of the vote which thinks like he does…

                    What he believes is that:

                    1. There’s a lot of parents out there who’ve smacked their kids occasionally and who get annoyed when wet liberals tell them they’re crap parents and criminals to boot;

                    2. That their annoyance can perhaps be translated into votes for someone who appears to be taking their side;

                    3. That he therefore has an interest in getting wet liberals to publicly denounce these parents with suitable “ur doin it wrong and also ur a bad person who shd b in jail” comments.

                    Item 1 is certainly the case. Item 3 seems to working out pretty well for him if posts on this blog are any indication. Item 2 remains to be seen, but could we perhaps stop helping him find out?

                    • Merrial says:

                      @ Psycho Milt: “wet liberal”? I take it that you’re referring to me, and that it isn’t a compliment. Such a characterisation would provoke raucous disbelief on the part of various members of my family.

                      In any event, it is an epithet of the ad hominem sort which, I’ve noted, people usually resort to when they think they’ve lost an argument. It comes across as desperate, and doesn’t advance your cause in any way.
                      Once people start slinging insults around, the opportunity for debate is lost, and I sign out. Shouting matches ain’t for me.

                    • Psycho Milt says:

                      If shouting matches aren’t for you, here’s a few tips: don’t tell other parents their views on parenting are so wrong you can only assume they don’t have children, accuse them of “belting” their kids, and suggest they should face criminal charges for their ordinary, everyday parenting. Doing that tends to result in shouting matches..

  7. Other politicians kiss babies. Colin smacks them.

  8. Lara says:

    I used to teach high school, and I taught in low decile schools which were more difficult than high decile schools in terms of the behaviour of the students.

    If I, a small woman only 162 cm in height, shorter than many of my students, can manage to get a class of 30 teenagers to listen and engage and do it WITHOUT smacking or any kind of violence whatsoever, then Colin Craig has absolutely no excuse for smacking his kid.

    I never smacked my child when he was small, and now he’s a teenager I still don’t need to smack. But he knows I’m the responsible adult in charge, that I’m reasonable and I love him and I will be kind, and he needs to follow my rules. Or his internet access is removed 🙂

    It’s not hard. It just requires some thinking skills. Which Mr Craig seems to lack.

  9. ANDYS says:

    I guess the issue is not whether smacking is good or bad, but whether it is the state’s role to decide on these and other matters.

    Thanks to the extensive coverage by the TDB, we will now be having this discussion in election year.

    • Intrinsicvalue says:


    • Danyl Strype says:

      I guess the issue is not whether hitting people is good or bad, but whether it is the state’s role to decide on these and other matters. So AndyS, do you think the laws against an assault on adults (or animals) are also an unjustified intrusion into people’s private affairs?

  10. Intrinsicvalue says:

    Still more confusion. Smacking is not hitting. Smacking is not violence. Banning smacking has not and will not reduce child abuse.
    Smacking is one part of a parents tool box for raising responsible, healthy children. For every study listed that alleges smacking is detrimental there are as many, if not more, that shows the opposite. It comes down to parental choice, and that’s where the matter should, and does, rest.

    • Merrial says:

      @Intrinsicvalue: of course smacking is hitting; and it’s violence. Go look, not only at the semantics, but also at the mechanics.

      As I recall,very similar arguments were once employed to justify wife-beating; probably still are in some circles, if recent events are any indication.

  11. Martino says:

    I grew up at a time when smacking was the norm, in homes and schools.

    The only effect it had on me was that I didn’t like the person who hit me – so, if you want a dysfunctional family hitting your children is the way to go.

    And regards this ‘light smack’ bullshit, even if it doesn’t hurt that much, the person on the receiving end feels violated.

    • Intrinsicvalue says:

      That is a gross generalisation. I know literally dozens of families who have smacked their children, none dysfunctional. On the other hand I know many who haven’t, most dysfunctional. Let’s have this debate on facts, not anecdotes.

  12. Jenny says:

    Starve the Kids Craig.

    As well as supporting biffing kids, Colin Craig has also maintained a hypocritical silence over the Feed The Kids bill presently before parliament.

    As a Christian, Colin should read his bible to see the special contempt in which hypocrites are held.

  13. Jenny says:

    Talking of bibles and hypocrites.

    As a child I was a regular attender of Sunday School at our local church.

    One particular lesson I remember very clearly, was one about the bible verse that says: “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.”

    Pretty unequivocal you would think?

    And one which rich Christians like Colin Craig may have some difficulty reconciling to.

    Not so, according to our instructor.

    The Sunday School teacher was a retired ex-army chaplain.

    He tried to argue that the bible was referring to a famous ancient giant stone monolith in Egypt, compared to which, a camel was rather a small thing. He also tried to claim that this was commonly accepted meaning in the Middle East at the time.

    Though there is such a giant stone monolith, and it is referred to as Cleopatra’s Needle, Cleopatra’s Needle, despite its size, has no eye that a camel could pass through.

    I also found out that it was not commonly accepted at the time, that “a needle” was a giant stone monolith”. And that this saying and its clear meaning was a common saying of the time.

    “So in the Koran, ‘The impious, who in his arrogance shall accuse our doctrine of falsity, shall find the gates of heaven shut; nor shall he enter till a camel shall pass through the eye of a needle.’ It was a common mode of expression among the Jews to declare any thing that was rare or difficult.”
    Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

    My religious instructor as a child, was a creative liar, actively trying to misinform children.

    Colin Craig is of the same ilk

    I googled this famous verse from Mathew and came up with a page full of repeated versions of the bible all of which carried the same clear message, there is no equivocation.

    You can’t get around it, is pretty clear and is repeated again and again in version after version, from the translated Aramaic Bible, to the King James Bible through to the New American Standard Bible.

    “Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
    New American Standard Bible

    However, there was one exception.

    “And again I say unto you, It is easier to put a cable through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”
    Jubilee Bible 2000

    I suppose with a bit of verbal gymnastics, I imagine that a small cable could be a thread, and it is feasible that a particularly big needle, could be threaded with a small cord that could also be referred to as a small cable.

    Maybe the Jubilee bible 2000, is the bible that Colin Craig gets his direction from.

    My wily old Sunday School teacher would be impressed.

    • Intrinsicvalue says:

      Hi Jenny

      Any sound Bible commentary will explain the verse succinctly. Here’s an example:

      “25. easier for a camel, &c.–a proverbial expression denoting literally a thing impossible, but figuratively, very difficult.”

      ” v. 25. It is a proverbial expression, that denotes the thing to be extremely difficult. 2. There is in the hearts of all people such a general affection to this world, and the things of it, that, since Christ has required it as necessary to salvation that we should sit loose to this world, it is really very hard for any to get to heaven.”

  14. Stuart Munro says:

    Camels & needles…

    Entry to the kingdom of heaven though, is not the standard by which I judge MPs. I want them to be consistent and truthful in representing their position. It would be nice if they were also intelligent and not overfond of the kind of corruption called ‘logrolling’, a kind of automatic in-bloc compromise.

    If their policies are very different from my ideals, I won’t vote for them, but if they are honest I may still respect them.

    I would tend to rate Bill English, whose economic pronouncements are gross and deliberate attempts at deception, lower than Colin Craig, (lower in fact than a worm’s belly) though the latter may yet disappoint me further down the track.