The Dim-Post

February 24, 2012

What then?

Filed under: crime,health — danylmc @ 10:57 am

Jacinda Ardern has a column in the Herald about child abuse (she is opposed to it) and it asserts:

There will be those parents who have already proven time and again that they should not have the privilege and responsibility of raising another child. They are not the norm, but for them our response should be swift and simple – they don’t get to gamble with another child’s life.

I don’t care if this is seen as too interventionist. I’d rather that than more of the “waiting and seeing”.

I’m all for interventionism, but I do wonder how this would work. How do you stop abusive parents from having more children?

The first stage seems pretty simple. You introduce a mechanism in which CYFS or other authorities can red-flag individuals who abuse their children, presumably through some sort of judicial process. But how do you monitor men who have been red-flagged to see if they’re living in a house with children, or expecting another child with a new partner? Pregnant women will get picked up when they enter the health system, but red-flagged males will be harder. Do you need something similar to the sex-offender registry? (It might be a good idea to combine the two, sending the message that child abuse carries the same level of stigma.)

Say you do – what happens once you’ve flagged someone? You can offer them medical sterilisation, but you can’t compel them to accept it – even offering financial incentives takes you into very tricky ethical territory, especially since a huge proportion of those sterilised would be Maori. You run into the same problems with abortion, only more-so.

So do you remove children from the parents’ care at birth? That is, in itself, a form of child abuse, so the threshold for such an act would have to be very high. And where do they go? One of the main reasons we have the Domestic Purposes Benefit is that state agencies and religious organisations proved themselves dangerously inept at caring for and raising children. Are they adopted? Adopted children also face a horribly high rate of child abuse.

It’s very easy to say ‘some parents shouldn’t be allowed to have children’, but very hard to implement that sentiment as policy.

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82 Comments »

  1. Money for sterilisation. In this situation it would seem that subsidizing the good is going to be far more effective than taxing the bad. Why is this unethical? Do you honestly think that stopping child abusers having kids is going to affect the perpetuation of the maori race? If so I think you are a victim of the MSM.

    Comment by Swan — February 24, 2012 @ 11:10 am

  2. I have pondered this sort of thing myself,(and had the ensuing Facebook discussion .) Without forced sterilization, I can really think of no way to prevent bad people from becoming parents… The fact that everyday there is another tragic story on the news about parents harming and or killing their kids is almost too much to bear since I became a mom. Despite what a person may feel about personal liberties and civil rights, protecting children from the Josh Powells and the Casey Anthonys of this world make forced sterilization look pretty damn good. Now if only there was a way to tell who was ‘bad’ BEFORE an innocent child had to die.

    Comment by alienredqueen — February 24, 2012 @ 11:10 am

  3. Is she saying they can’t have more children or that they shouldn’t be able to raise them? I thought it was pretty standard for children to be removed from abusive families. Most of the recent court cases where parents are implicated in the death or injury of a child often mention other children now being in care.

    > even offering financial incentives takes you into very tricky ethical territory, especially since a huge proportion of those sterilised would be Maori

    Why ‘especially’?

    Comment by insider — February 24, 2012 @ 11:13 am

  4. “Are they adopted? Adopted children also face a horribly high rate of child abuse.”

    As the parent of two adopted children, might I enquire into the evidence for this claim? Or did you just pull it out of your ass?

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — February 24, 2012 @ 11:16 am

  5. As the parent of two adopted children, might I enquire into the evidence for this claim? Or did you just pull it out of your ass?

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11927705

    Children residing in households with adults unrelated to them were 8 times more likely to die of maltreatment than children in households with 2 biological parents (adjusted odds ratio [aOR]: 8.8; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 3.6-21.5). Risk of maltreatment death also was elevated for children residing with step, foster, or adoptive parents (aOR: 4.7; 95% CI: 1.6-12.0), and in households with other adult relatives present (aOR: 2.2; 95% CI: 1.1-4.5). Risk of maltreatment death was not increased for children living with only 1 biological parent (aOR: 1.1; 95% CI: 0.8-2.0).

    Money for sterilisation. In this situation it would seem that subsidizing the good is going to be far more effective than taxing the bad. Why is this unethical?

    I think the big issue is competency of consent. It’s not hard to imagine a situation in which, say, a male in a relationship abuses his children, the couple is red-flagged, and he then pressures his wife/partner to undergo voluntary sterilisation because he wants the money.

    Comment by danylmc — February 24, 2012 @ 11:25 am

  6. Do adopted children face a horribly high rate of child abuse, particularly these days with a shortage of adoptable babies? I’m assuming your use of adoption in this case is adoption shortly after birth to parents who are not part of the wider family (because family can’t adopt, only become guardians).

    Adopted people I know didn’t face abuse in their adopted homes but some did have issues with being adopted, while others were totally okay with it. They were adopted in the days of closed adoptions and an over-supply of babies. Which raises the issue of today’s best practice, which is open adoption – does this apply when the birth parents have been deemed unfit? If I adopted a child under these circumstances would I want the state to say I had to encourage contact (even if supervised) with the birth parents?

    Perhaps Jacinda can reply.

    Comment by Me Too — February 24, 2012 @ 11:25 am

  7. Further to my point above – there’s this: “In the year ended 30 June 2010, 199 children and young people were legally adopted in New Zealand. Most of these involved family members such as step- parent adoptions. Child, Youth and Family approved 63 adoption placements for non- relatives during the same period.” I’m willing to bet you can’t find anything to show there is an increased rate of child abuse in this small cohort.

    Possibly you’ve lazily mixed up “adoption” with the other forms of non-birthparent care that exist. This document might help fix that: http://www.cyf.govt.nz/documents/about-us/publications/cyf-why-you-should-care-19-08.pdf

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — February 24, 2012 @ 11:27 am

  8. We all know that the best way of raising children is with both of their biological parents and yet for some reason the institution designed for this purpose, Marriage continues to be degraded and the raising of children by mothers “alone” continues to be subsidized.

    Comment by Andrei — February 24, 2012 @ 11:31 am

  9. In an Asian country decades ago there was a scheme running whereby anyone fronting up to get a ticket to a performance, was radiated and thus secretly sterilised, in order to control population. Appalling and a huge rage by the people when it was discovered.
    But it highlights the point that is posed by the “What then?”
    We suspect that there are cycles of abuse within some families. “This is the way we do it!”
    We crave direct action but maybe the answer can only lie with Education – but how?

    Comment by ianmac — February 24, 2012 @ 11:31 am

  10. I’d like to see you accept Andrew’s bet Danyl. There has been a distinct decline in the veracity of your posts since your media appearance. Walking the talk may help you return to the standards you formerly had. It might also get rid of the Howler Monkeys that seem to be dominating the comments these days.

    Comment by R Singers — February 24, 2012 @ 11:42 am

  11. It’s very easy to say ‘some parents shouldn’t be allowed to have children’, but very hard to implement that sentiment as policy.

    It may be impossible in a civilised society. Impossible to accurately identify those who ‘shouldn’t be allowed’ to have children. And impossible to avoid mis-indentifying some. And we can’t impose sterilisation.

    And also impossible to deal with changing situations. We know everything should be done to stop all ten year olds having children, even contraception at that age is problematic. Fifteen year olds should be strongly discouraged. Some eighteen year old ‘girls’ and many boys are parents fathers and a risk to the children – but by twenty five or thirty five they may have grown up and be great parents.

    Ardern is trying to appear as if she’s addressing the problem of the moment without having any idea about how to actually deal with it in practice. If it was easy it would have been done by now.

    Comment by Pete George — February 24, 2012 @ 11:42 am

  12. All that policy stuff is too hard. Much easier to give a knee-jerk reaction to something, hand it over to Simon Collins, and wait to see what the Herald comes up with.

    Comment by SHG — February 24, 2012 @ 11:43 am

  13. I’m willing to bet you can’t find anything to show there is an increased rate of child abuse in this small cohort.

    That’s a pretty safe bet, unless someone happens to publish a study on that specific group. I was adopted by my step-dad which, according to the statistics, but me at an even higher risk of abuse than non-relative adoption. But the only form of childhood abuse were the clothes I was forced to wear. I’m not saying that adoptive parents are all child abusers, just that children living with non-biologically related adults are at a much higher risk of abuse. And when you set up a government program putting large numbers of children into that environment, that’s a huge problem.

    Comment by danylmc — February 24, 2012 @ 11:45 am

  14. “As the parent of two adopted children, might I enquire into the evidence for this claim? Or did you just pull it out of your ass?
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11927705

    That’s a US-based study. So, to extrapolate it’s findings with respect to abuse rates for adoptive parents to New Zealand conditions, you’d have to look at what forms of pre-screening/oversight/support there are for potential adoptive parents in the USA compared with here in New Zealand, as well as the legal grounds upon which adoption may take place. In other words, is “adoption” in the USA the same as “adoption” in New Zealand? And quite clearly it isn’t; the state of Oregon has a population the same size as New Zealand and had 1099 adoptions in 2009 – 10 times the number that took place here.

    So you need to compare apples with apples. After all, would you point to a US study about (say) corruption in police forces as evidence that the New Zealand cops are rotten to the core?

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — February 24, 2012 @ 11:46 am

  15. We all know that the best way of raising children is with both of their biological parents and yet for some reason the institution designed for this purpose, Marriage continues to be degraded and the raising of children by mothers “alone” continues to be subsidized.

    Absolutely, because we all know that;

    (i) child abuse never, ever occurs when both parents are married (to each other),
    (ii) in all cases, solo mothers are possessed by the devil (particularly if their situation is a result of divorce) and should be subject to prosecution as per Section 3 of the Malleus Maleficarum rather then receiving the DPB

    Comment by Gregor W — February 24, 2012 @ 11:51 am

  16. Ardern also touches on a common theme (without offering a solution):

    An astounding 20 per cent of children in New Zealand are growing up without the basics. What many people don’t realise, and what the Green Paper only brushes over, is that a good portion of those are living in families where at least one parent is in full-time work but not earning enough to get by.

    I’m not saying that all children living in cash-strapped households are abused – of course not – but as a wise researcher once concluded, “Poverty is the cause of the causes”.

    This seems to hint at the socialist magic bullet, give everyone enough money so they are not ‘in poverty’ and everything will be fair and fixed.

    Most parents who don’t think they have enough to ‘get by’ (probably a majority of parents at some stage of parenthood) don’t abuse their kids. Rich parents (and boyfriends) can also be violent and abusive. There’s also abuse in middle New Zealand. Associating child abuse with poverty is not wise at all.

    Ardern doesn’t mention of drug and alcohol abuse, gambling, lack of education, generational acceptance of violence as a way of dealing with things in families and in society as a whole.

    Just blaming it on ‘poverty’ and taking more money off some people and giving more to other people is not going to address much at all.

    Comment by Pete George — February 24, 2012 @ 11:53 am

  17. “I’m not saying that adoptive parents are all child abusers, just that children living with non-biologically related adults are at a much higher risk of abuse. And when you set up a government program putting large numbers of children into that environment, that’s a huge problem.”

    OK – getting of my high horse now – agreed. Simply taking kids from proven bad parents and giving them to “just anyone else” likely will result in a frying-pan-to-fire transfer in a non-trivial set of cases. And this particularly is likely where there are financial incentives used to try and increase the pool of people willing to act as caregivers.

    But again, I’d want to know the makeup of the family units being considered in the “children living with non-biologically related adults” cohort. Are we dealing with situations where a male comes into an existing mother-child relationship, or is it where a child is placed with an existing couple, and is there a difference in outcomes in each case? In other words, does the “it’s not my flesh and blood, why should I care?” response kick in equally across all forms of “adoption” (to use the term loosely to mean long-term parental care by a non-biological parent).

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — February 24, 2012 @ 11:56 am

  18. Let’s indulge in a couple of cliches. This kind of discussion takes us onto a slippery slope — the thin end of the wedge. (Sorry that’s the best I could just before I head off to work – I’m not a writer). In other words, any discussion about forbidding people from having or raising children eventually leads to the possibility of totalitarian dystopias.

    I’m sure to be accused of being wooly headed but I truly believe that the best we can hope for would be to help these people to be better parents or at least not to have children (yet). We need to treat the cause not the symptoms. A variation on the same argument that is often made with drugs and alcohol.

    The people being discussed have the same needs as the rest of us and despite their (massive) faults they are in theory capable of the same care and empathy as the rest of us. After all they are humans just like us.

    Comment by Josh — February 24, 2012 @ 11:57 am

  19. Maybe there are heaps more kids available for adoption in the USA because of the huge pressure on women not to abort?

    Evidence from the USA – the most at risk kids for sexual or physical abuse are those living with one biological parent and an unrelated step-parent. http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/opre/abuse_neglect/natl_incid/reports/natl_incid/natl_incid_dist_family_char.html

    I once read a study I can’t find which speculated there is possibly an evolutionary cause to this, i.e., on some deeply, deeply subsconscious level these unrelated partners want to get rid of kids who aren’t carrying their genes and replace them with their own. girls living with an adult male who isn’t related to them also tend to experience puberty much earlier. not that I’m saying that is necssarily a related factor but possibly it could be…although eeew, NO excuse!

    Comment by Amy — February 24, 2012 @ 12:11 pm

  20. Plucking some figures out of the air, even if 5% of biological parents abuse their kids, 10% of adopting parents, 20% of live-in boy friends, if poor people on benefits are twice as likley to abuse, Maori are twice as likely to abuse, scout leaders, lteachers, priests, uncles, perverts next door etc etc you end up with an impossible situation of a) identifying actual abusers-to-be, b) forcing them not to breed, and b) stopping any having any thing to do with kids.

    We should focus preventative measures on things we can ethically and actually do, like sex and parenting education before conception, better support and monitoring post natal. Also much wider education of people who deal with children (eg health practitioners, teachers) in recognising early signs of abuse.

    But there’s difficulties with all that too. I know good parents who have not wanted too much from plunket nurses – parents want to be reassured that their baby is in the right percentile of whatever and gets their MMR on time but aren’t so keen on pedantic instructions on how to bring up your kid.

    Comment by Pete George — February 24, 2012 @ 12:18 pm

  21. I’m not saying that all children living in cash-strapped households are abused – of course not – but as a wise researcher once concluded, “Poverty is the cause of the causes”.

    Bullshit. Poverty is corellated with causes not the cause.

    Comment by swan — February 24, 2012 @ 12:23 pm

  22. We have a sex-offender registry?

    Comment by Graeme Edgeler — February 24, 2012 @ 12:33 pm

  23. I once read a study I can’t find which speculated there is possibly an evolutionary cause to this, i.e., on some deeply, deeply subsconscious level these unrelated partners want to get rid of kids who aren’t carrying their genes

    We’re not all equal. It may well be the case with some but it can’t be universal. It will likely only be one of a number of factors – many people have an abhorrence of hurting anyone, especially kids, and that could easily be stronger than something deep in the genetic subconsciousness.

    I’ve lived with a girlfriend and had no inclination at all to harm her two children – in fact more cautious with verbal discipline and physical contact because they weren’t my own kids. I’m now married and those two kids are now great parents and I’m a proud grand-step-father.

    Some people are naturally non-violent. Some have been taught violence and control as a way of dealing with things and that’s where the greatest risk is. But not all kids who grow up in violent environments go on to be abusive parents.

    Comment by Pete George — February 24, 2012 @ 12:48 pm

  24. @Amy. Male gorillas dislodge a Silverback’s harem by killing babies. The females leave for the new male as the Silverback is unable to protect her offspring. Chimpanzees will kill and eat the young of neighbouring troops. I’m also fairly certain that an infant Organ-utan is at risk from any adult male whose path it crosses, including its own father. The whole clade of Great Apes is fairly brutal to their own young when you look at it.

    Comment by R Singers — February 24, 2012 @ 1:25 pm

  25. @R Singers: “The whole clade of Great Apes is fairly brutal to their own young when you look at it.”

    Except, of course, for those that aren’t: “Because of the promiscuous mating behavior of female bonobos, there is a great deal of paternal uncertainty. If a male cannot be sure which offspring are his, he is less likely to invest any time or energy caring for them. It is because of this lack of certainty that the entirety of parental care in bonobos is assumed by the mothers (de Waal 1997). That is not to say that adult males are not attentive to infants in the unit-group, in fact, there is very little aggression directed towards bonobo infants by adult males in the group and infanticide has never been recorded (Kuroda 1989; de Waal 1997).”

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — February 24, 2012 @ 1:46 pm

  26. Forced (or “incentivised”) sterilisation requires a lot of willing participants. Good luck finding them.

    There’s probably a few cops that would happily knock on the door and say “We have a warrant for your operation”. Medical staff who will then obey orders and not Hippocrates … not so much.

    Plus, you know, New Zealand being on the cover of Time magazine afterwards. We’d need a lot of Hobbits to make up for that PR disaster.

    It’s an “idea” (a grunt, really) that appeals to most of us when we watch tragedies on the TV news, but falls apart once we get to thinking it through.

    Comment by sammy 2.0 — February 24, 2012 @ 1:52 pm

  27. 3 questions for my learned blogsters:

    1. How does one ‘flag’ a parent as unworthy or abusive in the situation where no scars are present but wher a parent tells that child repeatedly that they are no good, useless or will never amount to anything? (lets call our exemplars Rugby Sideline Dad or Report Card Mum).

    2. Though people have a visceral reaction to physical child abuse, should / can the same measures be applied to more subtle abusers of the mind?

    3. If 2 is valid, at what point might we decide that RS Dad / RC Mum shouldn’t be allowed to either (a) have have responsibility for existing children or (b) elect to have more children? Furthermore, do we accept that either of our exemplars (or indeed Talk To The Fist Stepdad for that matter) can never change and that ‘once an abuser, always an abuser’?

    Comment by Gregor W — February 24, 2012 @ 2:00 pm

  28. Gregor W , an interesting set of questions.
    1. They’re middle class and white so it’s irrelevant. Besides, they’re just being ambitious for their children.
    2. Now you’re trying to get inside our heads! Where will nanny state end!
    3. Non-issue: they’re middle class and white so they’ll only have 2-3 children max.
    4. Of course bad people don’t change, unless we’re talking about me, in which case I deserve a second chance.

    Comment by Me Too — February 24, 2012 @ 2:09 pm

  29. How does one ‘flag’ a parent as unworthy or abusive in the situation where no scars are present but wher a parent tells that child repeatedly that they are no good, useless or will never amount to anything? (lets call our exemplars Rugby Sideline Dad or Report Card.)

    I (maliciously) recently suggested to someone in the Green Party that they put forward a private members bill making it illegal to smoke inside your own home if you have a child, because that constitutes child abuse. They weren’t keen . . ..

    Comment by danylmc — February 24, 2012 @ 2:48 pm

  30. Danyl, you’ve also ignored the rather bigger point of Jacinda’s piece

    “But there is still another elephant in the room. An astounding 20 per cent of children in New Zealand are growing up without the basics. What many people don’t realise, and what the Green Paper only brushes over, is that a good portion of those are living in families where at least one parent is in full-time work but not earning enough to get by.

    I’m not saying that all children living in cash-strapped households are abused – of course not – but as a wise researcher once concluded, “Poverty is the cause of the causes”.”

    I’m confused about your column. Given a) that the state currently removes some children from their parents, and b) that Ardern indicated she’d like this to increase, I’m not quite following your befuddlement over the issue. You have a problem with the status quo?

    Comment by Oh Busby — February 24, 2012 @ 2:58 pm

  31. I’m not sure how the fact that the majority of child abusers are Maori constitutes a greater ethical dilemma than were this not the case.

    I think you’re confusing ‘the majority of X is Y’ with “Most of Y is X”

    Comment by Andrew M — February 24, 2012 @ 3:10 pm

  32. I’m not sure how the fact that the majority of child abusers are Maori constitutes a greater ethical dilemma than were this not the case.

    Unless the stats have changed in the last couple of years, I don’t believe this is the case.

    Comment by Graeme Edgeler — February 24, 2012 @ 3:23 pm

  33. @Graeme: They haven’t. The majority of child abusers are Pakeha … but Maori are overrepresented in the statistics.

    @Oh Busby: Speaking in Danyl’s defence, and only because someone has to every now and then, I suspect he’d say that if Ardern meant what you say she does (because “for them our response should be swift and simple – they don’t get to gamble with another child’s life” is open to numerous interpretations) … then what? The State removes the child, and it goes … where? Are we dealing well with those children already taken into care – let alone the non-trivial extra number we’re going to remove? Who will look after them, and on what basis? What right of access will the birth parents have to the child, and on what basis?

    After all – kids aren’t like puppies, where you can take them off mum and give them to any-old family for little Petey and Jemima to raise. They’re little people who will grow up into big people and have lots of questions about who their birth Mum and Dad were. And that’s all without getting into the tricky problem of non-biological adult abuse that Danyl flagged.

    There’s also this that people might want to watch before deciding “just take the kids away” is the best policy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ladybird_Ladybird_(film)

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — February 24, 2012 @ 3:34 pm

  34. The majority of child abusers are Pakeha … but Maori are overrepresented in the statistics.

    No, they’re now the majority. In 2010 over 50% of critical abuse cases and family removals were Maori children.

    Comment by danylmc — February 24, 2012 @ 4:12 pm

  35. “No, they’re now the majority. In 2010 over 50% of critical abuse cases and family removals were Maori children.”

    Huh … you’re right. Who’d a thunk it?

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — February 24, 2012 @ 4:53 pm

  36. @ Oh Busby – you’re right, let’s get this thread back to My Little Pony’s point, which was…. oh, that we should give both votes to Labour! Because their liberal outrage is fully syncopated with ours, and child abuse is a terrrrible thing (which needed to be said… any political party that fails to reiterate this mantra at monthly intervals shall be placed on the politically suss register and sent to the public naughty corner).

    “I’m all for interventionism, but I do wonder how this would work.”
    Danyl, you really are slow catching on, eh? It’s not about making things work. It’s about the best media expression of Labour’s moral outrage followed by extensive MP research into best practice in foreign climes, preferably the Caribbean. ;)

    Comment by bob — February 24, 2012 @ 7:48 pm

  37. Once again, with apologies to Jonathan Swift…

    A Modest Proposal, Indeed

    Comment by DeepRed — February 24, 2012 @ 8:26 pm

  38. And of course, there’s a world of difference difference between a social problem with large numbers of Maori, and a Maori problem.

    Comment by DeepRed — February 24, 2012 @ 8:28 pm

  39. DeepRed @37 – I think that’s disturbing, disgusting.

    Comment by Pete George — February 24, 2012 @ 8:34 pm

  40. You do know Swift was a pre-eminent satirist right, Pete?

    Comment by Gregor W — February 24, 2012 @ 9:11 pm

  41. That’s not satire it’s a load of old tosh mean’t to put the acid on those you disagree with my little ponys’ pet peeve. But you know that right?!

    Comment by stephen — February 24, 2012 @ 9:26 pm

  42. “there’s a world of difference difference between a social problem with large numbers of Maori, and a Maori problem” not necessarily.

    Comment by stephen — February 24, 2012 @ 9:28 pm

  43. Gregor – I don’t care how pre-eminent you think Swift was, I find that graphically disgusting, and the implications are nasty. But if you think it’s clever why don’t you show it to your children, to understand the impact of that you must have children.

    Modern New Zealand is incomparable to Ireland three hundred years ago.

    Comment by Pete George — February 24, 2012 @ 9:33 pm

  44. @stephen

    I guess you could see it that way if you were a humourless, moronic literalist who didn’t know that Swift made essentially the same hyperbolic joke wrt English landlords and their Irish tennants back in the early 18th century.

    But I guess you don’t know that, as your contextual knowledge of the world seems to start around the turn of the 21st century.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 24, 2012 @ 9:41 pm

  45. For Christ’s sake Pete, dry up.

    Instead of making us suffer your po-faced opining, how about you saddle up your high horse and piss off to another blog if you’re so bloody offended.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 24, 2012 @ 9:45 pm

  46. Gee G W, steady. If you’re uncomfortable with me expressing an opinion you could trot off somewhere else yourself.

    Comment by Pete George — February 24, 2012 @ 9:56 pm

  47. I’m fine with you expressing your opinion, Pete.

    But there is a time and a place for tedious moralizing and being offended about things, and a blog known for satire is probably not the place where you’ll get the best reception.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 24, 2012 @ 10:32 pm

  48. My nostril hairs are quite mighty.

    Comment by Andrew M — February 24, 2012 @ 10:44 pm

  49. DeepRed @37 – I think that’s disturbing, disgusting.

    Oh God, he really didn’t get it? Swift disgusts him? Quick, someone introduce him to William S. Burroughs – I want to see his head explode, a la Cronenberg’s Scanners -style.

    Modern New Zealand is incomparable to Ireland three hundred years ago.

    Ah, but is the postmodern globalised economy so different from that where we outsource exploitation? You say “incomparable”, but sadly, no. You are being very, very naive PG. Your consumer goods aren’t made of unicorn farts, your lifestyle block didn’t appear out of nowhere, suddenly increasing the Earth’s surface area in defiance of Alfred Wegener’s theory of plate tectonics. Sorry.

    But I guess you don’t know that, as your contextual knowledge of the world seems to start around the turn of the 21st century.

    No Gregor, don’t try to engage with him as if he could pass the Turing Test. Play with him if you must (something I’ve done myself). He’s too stupid to either present a coherent argument or be convinced by one – but he can be fun if you poke him with a stick. Try something a bit sillier.

    In my opinion, PG is amusing because of his fundamental humourlessness (rational engagement with him is like trying to strangle a fog) and “Stephen” (Will, Trouble Man etc etc…) is kind of cute because of his belief that all of his play with his sock puppets is taken seriously by the grown-ups.

    I really long for a real troll. The best have been quite sophisticated, but obsessives are just dull.

    Comment by Rhinocrates — February 24, 2012 @ 11:29 pm

  50. a blog known for satire is probably not the place where you’ll get the best reception.

    A blog known for deliberate satire?

    I’ve learned more about the fundamental ethos of United Coiffure than I ever would have thought.

    Comment by Rhinocrates — February 24, 2012 @ 11:37 pm

  51. @Rhinocrates: it reminds me of H Westfold, a fuddy-duddy chap right here in Wellington who writes letters to the editor of the Capital Times almost every week. He’s a living embodiment of Poe’s Law.

    You know satire hits the bullseye when it single-handedly has the self-appointed anti-PC brigade being a bit, um, PC themselves. The moment you hold a mirror to them, it cracks.

    Comment by DeepRed — February 24, 2012 @ 11:39 pm

  52. I really long for a *real* troll.

    In the unlikely event you haven’t been there already, think you’d enjoy the comments at Reading the Maps – some of the stuff there is either trolling raised to high art, or otherwise the very best kind of genuine obsessiveness, and it sprouts up around all sorts of arcane topics.

    Comment by Sam F — February 24, 2012 @ 11:41 pm

  53. Deepred on H Westfold. I’m familiar with that poor soul because I’m a Wellingtonian myself… and rather disgusted with the fact that Capital Times has calculated that it’s worthwhile publicising the ravings of someone who clearly has a personality disorder (according to what I’ve heard on the grapevine – Welly is really a village) so as to generate advertising revenue.

    Sam F. No, I’ll stick to Jonathan Swift, William Burroughs, and Warren Ellis and really, really wish that I had a bowel disruptor (the management of Massey “University” would be my first targets)… Oh, alright them… give me some time and I’ll get back…

    Comment by Rhinocrates — February 24, 2012 @ 11:56 pm

  54. Rhino – once again you’re the one that doesn’t get it. Maybe you don’t understand simple. If you draw in you mirror’s fog you may see something other than your own self, importance. I wasn’t referring to Swift, I was referring to the image. I think it’s awful.

    Yes, I do think child abuse is fundamentally humourlessness. Battered kids probably wouldn’t laugh at the one about the rhino in a crate of it’s own making.

    Gregor W – But there is a time and a place for tedious moralizing and being offended about things, and a blog known for satire is probably not the place where you’ll get the best reception.

    Yes, there is a time and place for things. A blog topic known to be about parental child abuse is probably not the best place for salacious satire. Is it?

    DeepRed – Ardern has been criticised for abuse of children for political purposes, she was relatively mild. Try holding a mirror to what you’ve done. If you don’t see anything in the red fog get another opinion from beyond the bubble, from your wife, girlfriend, mother, sister. Don’t be surprised if you satirical smirk is swiftly swiped.

    Comment by Pete George — February 25, 2012 @ 8:18 am

  55. Oh what the hell…

    Rhino – once again you’re the one that doesn’t get it. Maybe you don’t understand simple.

    You said that, not I…

    If you draw in you mirror’s fog you may see something other than your own self, importance.

    Count your posts, and their length and we’ll see who’s the narcissist.

    By the way, here is a comma”,” with which you are familiar, but here is a hyphen “-“. I have given you a powerful tool; use it wisely. Also, for free, here is the letter “r”.

    However, beyond details, I really have to deconstruct that metaphor. One can’t see anything in a fogged mirror, let alone self-importance, which is in any case an intangible noun and has no commonly accepted form or emblem. Moreover, if I were to draw in the fog, I would see whatever it was that I drew – maybe I could invent an emblem of my self-importance

    I wasn’t referring to Swift, I was referring to the image. I think it’s awful.

    You can’t see beyond the image. Do you think that irony is laughter? It’s not – it’s quite the opposite. Obviously you’ve never known a Russian or read Greek drama.

    salacious satire

    You dirty old man, nobody else gets sexually aroused by images of child abuse – you’re projecting, I’m afraid.

    sa·la·cious səˈlāSHəs/ Adjective (of writing, pictures, or talk) Treating sexual matters in an indecent way.
    Lustful; lecherous: “his salacious grin faltered”.

    holding a mirror to what you’ve done. If you don’t see anything in the red fog get another opinion from beyond the bubble

    Oh God, someone please call Stephen Fry, George Carlin’s not around to mock that stew.

    Comment by Rhinocrates — February 25, 2012 @ 10:02 am

  56. And an an exercise, here’s a full stop: “.” I’ve left one out, so guess where it goes.

    Comment by Rhinocrates — February 25, 2012 @ 10:04 am

  57. Why do you use selective definitions to frame abuse? What you’ve done is quite nasty really. Perhaps obscene.

    Salacious
    2.(of writings, pictures, etc.) obscene; grossly indecent.
    Obscene
    1.offensive to morality or decency; indecent; depraved: obscene language.
    3. abominable; disgusting; repulsive.

    What about intervention with at risk babies and abuse of children? Don’t you care? Or do you prefer to resort to blog abuse?

    Comment by Pete George — February 25, 2012 @ 11:29 am

  58. I use commonly-accepted definitions of words. If you want to mean “repulsive”, use “repulsive” and not a word that usually implies titillation.

    Also, since your topic is “abuse” as in “child abuse”, don’t claim to have been abused in the same post.

    In any case, my intention is to mock you, not abuse you.

    Lastly, you’ve asked a leading question and I refuse to answer it because of your fundamental dishonesty of intent.

    Have you stopped beating your wife yet?

    Comment by Rhinocrates — February 25, 2012 @ 11:43 am

  59. Rhinocrates – what you’re doing is far beyond mock, that should be obvious even to most urbane intellectuals.

    You’ve accused me of ‘dishonesty of intent’. What was the intent of your attacks here on me using selective definitions?

    Talking about my wife, she just asked me to show her the graphic that led to this – she said “that’s fucking sick in so many ways”. She was repulsed. And she’s disgusted by the accusations you’re making at me. You’re a gutless prick attacking like this from an·o·nym·i·ty.

    You provide proof that the Kiwi culture of abuse is deeply entrenched in many facits of our society. And keeps blaming someone or something else, in perpetuity unaddressed.

    Comment by Pete George — February 25, 2012 @ 12:16 pm

  60. Satire is not gentle spoofing. Swift and his imitators rip away the euphemy and sentimentality that covers real suffering – and so it should.

    What was the intent of your attacks

    Pedantry and contempt for shallow, sanctimonious sentimentality (see, I can use gratuitous alliteration too).

    I don’t sit on time-wasting committees; instead, in the course of my work I deal daily with people who have writing and learning difficulties – and guess how they get them (and their drug addictions, and their anxiety disorders, and their convictions)?

    Guess what the Somalian refugee, for one, told me about what happened to her? You’ll never guess, because she didn’t say that it was awful; the adjective she used was “hygienic”.

    So don’t you dare insinuate that I neither know nor care about abuse. I know far too much about it; I simply choose not to talk about it.

    Comment by Rhinocrates — February 25, 2012 @ 12:47 pm

  61. Getting huffy about insinuations Rhippocrates?

    If you know all about abuse I presume you don’t ‘mock’ the people you deal with face to face. I wouldn’t be surprised that you only lash out when you can hide behind cover.

    Comment by Pete George — February 25, 2012 @ 1:00 pm

  62. Don’t compare yourself with them – you claim to despise self-importance and that’s hyperbole. Playing the victim doesn’t even amuse me. (Actually, some passive-aggressively use their status as victim to manipulate and I have ways of dealing with that too.)

    A lot of people use noms de plume (pardon my French) and have good reasons to do so. Some are flippant, some are legal, some are moral, some are psychological. It’s a commonly-observed convention that one does not question their use, or attempt to wheedle out a reason.

    I think that I have a good reason, and that’s all that I’m saying.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I have an appointment for a haircut.

    Comment by Rhinocrates — February 25, 2012 @ 1:23 pm

  63. Don’t compare yourself with them – I wasn’t.

    you claim to despise self-importance – I haven’t. You keep making things up, perhaps false assumptions.

    I know many people have good reasons for anonymity on line – just a few abuse anonymity by making serious insinuations against identifiable people.

    Comment by Pete George — February 25, 2012 @ 1:49 pm

  64. I do hope child abuse doesn’t become another moral panic. We saw the effect on Christchurch of allegations of child sexual abuse in the early 1990s. Several creche workers (male and female) were implicated in mass abuse. Careers were ruined and people who loved working with kids were vilified on the basis of claims for which there was no clear evidence. It is unclear what (if anything) has been learnt as a result.

    Comment by Ross — February 25, 2012 @ 3:28 pm

  65. Child abuse bad; four legs good. Two ticks for Labour. Hurrah! Another gold star for My Little Pony.

    Ross – sadly, when media standards have plummeted faster than a five year old’s attention span, we are probably in for a rocky road. Best indicator of a turn around will be when we see good auditing of state services (schools, CYFS, WINZ, etc) and public reporting of such reports. That is, what proportion of school staff had police checks before hiring, what proportion of non-accidental killed children had been dealt with by CYFS, etc.

    It’s a bit like the US immigration question – are you a communist? – asking it seems daft, but when public services have to publically report on basic stats about child safety, the managers get concerned to make sure those bases are properly covered, in case things go to custard and they get the blame. Or maybe they wil just cover up really well, dunno.

    Comment by bob — February 25, 2012 @ 5:25 pm

  66. serious insinuations

    Oh I get it, you think that my sarcastically pointing out that if you use a word unwisely without knowing its common meaning, you would embarrass yourself – and you did, and then proceeded to dig a deeper hole. Sarcasm is supposed to be the lowest form of wit, but it still went over your head.

    Even I don’t think that you really get off on child abuse. A buffoon, thin-skinned, paternalistic, obsessed with people respecting your authoritah, bereft of substance, hilariously inept with English, prone to arguing in bad faith and playing the victim card when things get hard – yes indeed… but not a child abuser.

    Now, since this blog is NOT all about you and your tender feelings, let it rest, OK?

    In other news (could be a separate post)…

    The war to end child abuse is one fought through many battles on many fronts, so here’s one: An unplanned child is more likely to be abused than a planned one, I would suspect. I’ve no specific detailed knowledge, but what is the state of sex education coupled with the availability of cheap, reliable contraception? What are attitudes towards the use of contraception, or the understanding of parenthood among the young?

    Here’s another. Also, while Jacinda Ardern quotes an unidentified researcher as saying that poverty is the “cause of causes”, and there is reportedly more child abuse among the poor, what is the prevalence across the socioeconomic spectrum in terms of percentages? I assume that there would be fewer richer children abused because there are fewer of them overall, but what do the percentages tell us about the importance and influence of specific causal factors such as poverty?

    Any hard sources?

    Comment by Rhinocrates — February 25, 2012 @ 6:14 pm

  67. and then proceeded to dig a deeper hole.

    Your weasel attempts to make excuses are doing just that, you wouldn’t accept anything like that from anyone else. Your gutlessness digs deeper.

    Comment by Pete George — February 25, 2012 @ 6:51 pm

  68. PG is right Rhino, you’re a nasty sanctimonious little cunt who thinks it’s OK to pass off libellous slurs of kiddy abuse as “sarcasm”.

    Comment by stephen — February 25, 2012 @ 6:57 pm

  69. I’m not going to apologise for your stupidity, Pete; it’s not my responsibility. First, I wouldn’t make your mistake, and second, if I did or such a slur was intended, I’d laugh it off as patently absurd, or maybe parody it. I certainly wouldn’t take it as an opportunity to stage a pantomime version of Attack of the Fifty Foot Drama Queen

    Now what was this thread’s topic again?

    Comment by Rhinocrates — February 25, 2012 @ 7:36 pm

  70. “PG is right Rhino, you’re a nasty sanctimonious little cunt who thinks it’s OK to pass off libellous slurs of kiddy abuse as “sarcasm”.”

    Poor Stevie. While it’s really funny when the trolls snap, perhaps you should have an early night? Non?

    Comment by Guy Smiley — February 25, 2012 @ 7:55 pm

  71. You’re a bit snappy yourself Guy, non?

    Rhino, this thread is about intervention in cases of abuse and potential abuse. Too often so called adults don’t accept resonsibility for abusive behaviour.

    Comment by Pete George — February 25, 2012 @ 8:02 pm

  72. Good God, are you doing what I think you’re doing? You’re paralleling your contrived offence with the trauma suffered by real victims of abuse? That’s really bad taste at least. I know real victims and I see now that fake ones really deserve contempt.

    Do you know what real rape is like, or real “female circumcision”? I don’t, but I’ve seen the effects in people intimate with me. A pompous, privileged white guy is rolling about on the floor because in his imagination someone has insulted him and he wants to draw an analogy with rape and battery.

    That is sad on one level, but on another it’s sickening because you want to turn a thread on the most serious of topics into an episode of The Pete George Show yet again.

    Get help; you have no empathy with people who have genuine problems.

    Comment by Rhinocrates — February 25, 2012 @ 8:38 pm

  73. Pete George, what you imagine that you have suffered has no parallel with real rape or what you vaguely call “abuse”. Can you, at any level, conceive of that? If you can, grow a skin. If you can’t, God help you.

    Comment by Rhinocrates — February 25, 2012 @ 9:19 pm

  74. You’re squirming and blustering and bringing up ridiculous comparisons to try and divert from accepting any responsibility. If you’re so familiar with different types and levels of abuse you will know how damaging false accusations can be.

    Making accusations whether directly or by insinuation on a public forum is at best stupid. I won’t say it was deliberately malicious but most people who make stupid mistakes will front up when called to account.

    Comment by Pete George — February 25, 2012 @ 9:58 pm

  75. I made no accusation, I only sneered, parodied, mocked or whatever else is accurate as a description. I know that I’m not a “nice” person, so please don’t waste your time suggesting otherwise.

    most people who make stupid mistakes will front up when called to account.

    I will not “front up” for your narcissism or ignorance, so stop asking. Your imagination is of no relevance to me or anyone. All sorts of people imagine all sorts of things and these are of no importance.

    Now what is it like to be raped? I want your perspective. Can you explain why you draw a parallel with what you imagine that you have suffered, since it is you who has done so?

    I repeat: you’re an idiot and you vaingloriously associate your trivially imaginary experience of insult with real rape. Why? How? I’ve asked the question before and you’ve refused to answer, trying to divert attention with complaints about insults to your dignity. That is irrelevant, and considering the experience or real victims of rape, disgustingly egotistical.

    I have to say, this thread has been a real education for me – I now know first hand what feminists mean when then talk about privileged white males complaining about attacks on their authoritah.

    So, did I rape you?

    The fact remains, you want even child abuse to be The Pete George Show.

    You’ve called me a gutless coward, but I call you a vainglorious fraud.

    You know, what I think is one of the causes of child and partner abuse? Insecure men who think that it’s all about them, and unable to use words at even the minimal level that PG shows, they resort to their fists. So the problem is men.

    I really wish some more feminists would contribute to this blog.

    So, again, back to topic, because this is not The Pete George Show Is Jacinda Ardern right, is she wrong, what are the real causes of child abuse and what can be done to mitigate or even halt the problem?

    Comment by Rhinocrates — February 25, 2012 @ 10:23 pm

  76. In Shatnerese, speaking as an avowed representative of that personality cult in search of a personality,

    What!

    Will!

    United!

    Figleaf!

    Do?!

    Comment by Rhinocrates — February 25, 2012 @ 10:37 pm

  77. Seriously, Pete, can you go away? I am a card-carrying, baby-eating member of the right wing. However, because you don’t know me (I do live in your boss’s electorate and, just this one last time, I gave him one of my ticks), you’ll no doubt disregard what I have to say. But I can tell you that you are out of order and absolutely fucking dull. You have this little mission to stomp on all instances of behaviour that, in your mind, as-good-as-condones child abuse. And it is missing the mark. You are like an Anglican in a Catholic Cathedral, shouting about how they can’t possibly know god. You need to go and stand outside court when one of these child abuse cases is being heard and talk to the families. Tell them that if they have any knowledge of abuse, that they should man-up and tell the truth. Or else it just goes on. You are wasting your time and a load of other people’s here.
    And, really, you ARE missing the point in Rhino’s comments: Rhino wins, game, set and match. But don’t worry: his win is not a victory for child abuse, although you seem to think it would be.

    PS Re all the “Maori” stats on child abuse. Does one have to self-identify as Maori? Aren’t some of these victims and abusers actually three-quarters European?

    PSS as an adopted child myself, I would highlight what Andrew Geddis might appear to be saying: official adoption is not the same as the loose arrangements where some a woman needs a provider whilst the father of some of her children is in jail or otherwise out of the picture, so shacks up with another man, who is, therefore, not the father of the children.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — February 27, 2012 @ 2:00 pm

  78. I really wish some more feminists would contribute to this blog.

    We generally have better things to do than join in interminable arguments which clearly aren’t ever going to go anywhere.

    Comment by helenalex — February 27, 2012 @ 3:41 pm

  79. “That is sad on one level, but on another it’s sickening because you want to turn a thread on the most serious of topics into an episode of The Pete George Show yet again.”

    What is sad is how many of you have contributed to this thread devolving from a mature discussion of the topic to your own personal flame war.

    Comment by alienredqueen — February 28, 2012 @ 7:28 am

  80. arq, if you were in a movie and someone in the row in front of you kept talking, standing up, humming along to the tune or loudly tried to guess “what-happens-next”, I bet you’d, politely at first, ask them to shut the fuck up. There is a chance you’d have inadvertantly picked a fight with a child with downes syndrome, in which case, you’d proceed to suffer in silence (what else could one do) but in PG’s case, we’re reasonably sure that’s not the case.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — February 29, 2012 @ 1:31 pm

  81. Clunking fist… I don’t even know what to say… (it’s like watching a movie with my pops) o.O

    Comment by alienredqueen — March 1, 2012 @ 7:53 am

  82. My pop snores through movies. And the rugby. In fact, if he sits down, he begins to snore. So he spends most of his day on his feet to ensure he doesn’t miss anything.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — March 1, 2012 @ 1:57 pm


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