Riley Speaks

"all i have is a voice" ~ w.h. auden


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If I Were Prime Minister…

A look into what life would be like if I were to ever become prime minister of New Zealand. I’m going to tell you now – there will be no building of god damned roads because there are far bigger things that need tending to…

I would have medicinal cannabis available without scrutiny – people would not be looked down upon for treating their illness with medicine. Recreational use would be available to people with a limit on how much can be carried on a person. Only certified vendors can sell the cannabis and each store would be equipped with state of the art security to ensure no one is injured. Those in jail for cannabis related charges would be released on their own recognisance – depending on the type of charge. Those that are jailed for other charges such as violence would still keep those charges, but those jailed for carrying weed or selling weed would be released with the notion they will comply with the new laws.

It would be illegal to sell caged eggs. Only free range eggs will be able to be sold. And I would ensure free range is where the chickens are able to roam and they lay their eggs and they are treated with respect, dignity, and care. They aren’t given additional hormones to up their output, they are feed properly, and are not clipped. Those selling caged eggs would recieve a $750,000 fine for a first offence, a second offence would result in the persons being imprisoned.

Out of country buyers would need to provide proof they are going to be moving to New Zealand in three months before they are able to buy a home. This will weed out those buying houses to rent from overseas. Rentals will undergo new rules where they must receive an official “stamp” that certifies it is rental ready. This will mean there is no mould or mildew, no cracks in the seals of windows and doors, and that all promised amenities are working. Rentals would undergo these examinations annually to keep renters held accountable. I would build 300 new three bedroom houses spread across the major cities and 150 new three bedroom houses in non-major cities. These houses would be sold for no more than 400,000 dollars but the aim would be for them to sell at 350,000$.

Child poverty would undergo a huge investigation. Main factors would be found and fixed. Those living in poverty would be given highest priority for jobs and receive free childcare hours for under 5’s. This ensures they can attend their job and earn money that doesn’t go straight to childcare. Rentals/state housing would be supplied for free or at a low cost with subsidies to gas and electricity bills. Schools with lower deciles – which are typically known to have children from low income families – would receive free morning teas and lunches. These schools would have their own gardens with fruit and veges and chickens on site supplying eggs. This would lower the cost of providing lunches but also teaches children about the food process and involves them in the process too.

Mental health professionals would be trained efficiently and the rules for inpatient facilities would be looked at for change. Schools would have trained mental health professionals on site to help those with worries and stresses. Schools with higher mental health issues would have blocks of “calming time” with activities like yoga, outside reading, naps, or group talks to help with the stress of school. Local GP practices would have mental health professionals on site and working within the building. Small towns would have greater access to mental health facilities and people. Online services will be available too as some people may find it easier to talk not face to face. Online services would begin with an initial face to face interview, then continue online with face to face meetings when desired by the client. Mental Health programmes would be set up in schools to allow students to understand what depression is, what anxiety is, what bipolar, schizophrenia, and personality disorders are. In the likeness of Harold the Giraffe, it would be taught at every school and students will be reminded that it is okay to ask for help.

NCEA would drastically change. Schools would be encouraged to teach the children about things, not how to pass tests. They would be scored on their passion and understanding not their memory and ability to write fast in 30seconds. External testing would be brought down to a few exceptions as internal testing is much better for students’ stress levels. All/most testing would be open book – a pamphlet may be given out containing basic information that would then be used to test their understanding and knowledge. In the case of mathematics it may be the equation/how to work it out, but they must be able to apply it to different equations. In today’s society, calculators are there, phones are connected to the internet, and knowledge is abundant. Making students have to memorise information rather than interpret it hinders their ability to process information and interpret it in the greater world. Memorising information is no longer a test to knowledge and ability.

I would also make te reo a compulsory lesson in school. In primary and intermediates it will be a lesson that is compulsory. In secondary school; year 9 would have it compulsory, and the following years will have the option of taking it up. It is our duty as New Zealand citizens to keep the language of this land alive. We owe it to the Maori that we hurt when Europeans came to New Zealand. If we have it as a second language, why is it not compulsory? In Canada packaging has both english and french – here I would make it that New Zealand grown and made products have both english and te reo. Eventually pushing for total duo-lingual packaging.

WINZ services would pay livable wages not minimum wages. Mothers will not have to disclose the fathers name if he is not living on site with them/not sharing custody. If sharing custody, a name will not have to be given so long as the days of custody are given. Those working in WINZ will be given a zero tolerance of discrimination and if any case of discrimination is sought upon, action will be taken. They will be inclusive and welcoming to everyone regardless of what the situation is. No one WANTS to depend on the government, but sometimes it’s the only option.

I would make abortion an medical procedure and not a criminal act. Moving it from criminal acts into a medical procedure will mean those considering and having abortions will not face the inner turmoil of performing a “criminal act” in an already had time. This isn’t to promote abortions as many believe. If Christians (and other) have the right to choose NOT to have an abortion, then why don’t other woman get the right to choose what happens to their body? I would take away the signing by two doctors and would make it available to anyone seeking it. I would have caring people in the procedure room who are non-judgmental and understand what a hard decision it is. No one wants an abortion. It’s not a want like you want ice cream for dinner, it’s a want like you want to rip out the tooth that’s decaying in your mouth.

This is my “100 day plan” if I were to ever be prime minister for NZ. As a prime minister I would be as hands on as possible. Helping out in the community and in times of need. I would also ensure that when debating laws that involve other parties (Maori, trans, etc) I would have their opinion heard and work alongside them to create the best plan for them. Being prime minister is not about being in control, and proving powerful among the masses. It is about working alongside the nation to create a world and community we are proud of. To do that, you have to involve the community.

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Faith. Hope. And love – What is religion if not providing a shelter in a storm

Seeing a man, who runs a church, deny entry to those seeking shelter is the most sacrilegious thing I can think of. A church is a place of refuge, of shelter. It’s a place to go when no where else is open or welcoming. Any excuse is not valid. “Oh we don’t have facilities capable” – you don’t have to have the necessary things, you make it work. A church is a place of God and prayers, but it is also a home for those of his children without one. You are not a true voice of God when you deny his basic principle – love thy neighbour.

It brings up the debate that is on a continuous loop in my head – what does God truly want anyway? Who is God? What about the bible?

I’ve been around, I’ve seen some things. I would tell you that 98% of the churches today (not to point fingers but a majority of the catholic churches) are created to put forth false prophets and untrue words. You can read the bible all you like, that doesn’t make you a believer. In fact, following the bible word for word would make you as unchristian as it comes. The bible is essentially a book, just like the encyclopedia it becomes outdated as time goes on. It holds no meaning for how we are to act today aside from that that is the history from which our faith came from. It is the telling of the times back many years ago. It is not comparable to today.

Why are there more gay people? Aside from the fact that it’s not as horrible to be out in today’s society – I bet God wanted more of them. He saw that they weren’t from the devil but that they were just like anyone else. They loved with all they had. They loved better than some straight people. I don’t believe he holds the same principle as written in the bible, because just as society has – God has grown. If two people get to heaven and one is a gay man who spent his life loving and caring for his partner, and the other is a preacher from a church that shunned one of God’s children for being gay, then the gay man would get into heaven and I doubt that the preacher would.

But then what God do you listen to? – which God is yours; the Catholic, the Anglican, the Lutheran? Maybe another religions God? That’s the thing – it doesn’t matter. The God you listen to and the God that is yours is the God within your soul. The God that tells you how to love his children and how to forgive them and how to lead them to him – that’s the God you listen to. That’s the God that’s real. He would not force you to hurt another or treat them with ill hands. He is not the God you have been told he is.

Yes, God used Jesus and other people to share his message, but in today’s society these people are the Average Joe. They are the milk worker on the farm, the homeless man on the street – they are not the preacher in the church. Too often now people use God for their own agenda. They preach about this and that and say the scriptures prove it to be so. It’s just not that way. The bible was a telling of those days. The God I know would be embarrassed to know this is the world he created. He would be disgusted to see people killing their own neighbours for skin colour or sexuality.

And what about the devil? Is he this big demon with red horns? No, he just doesn’t want the best for you. He wants to see you kill your neighbours and hurt those around you. The devil wants you to be so full of hate that you cannot love anymore. The devil is that part of you that holds a grudge, the part that wants to see another person fail. But everyone has a little bit of that in them, following in God’s light is to not be overpowered by hatred.

And science? That surely holds no place in religion! But it does. Jesus was sent to earth to show the way to God, but before that no one believed in him. Even as Jesus was born, people still didn’t believe. But that didn’t mean God didn’t exist. It just meant no one had “proven” it. It’s the same with science. It still exists even if we don’t have the answers yet. The two are reliant on one another. Just as we are reliant on science today, God was when creating this world and his children. God has since provided us with people who have been beyond inquisitive and smart to give us these answers – answers God may not have even held.

Jesus was sent to save those from all they were doing wrong. Who’s to say another Jesus’s hasn’t been sent to earth to make changes? Who’s to say that the storms and global warming isn’t God’s way of telling us to sort our shit out? The destruction we are seeing today is something six-year-old-me could not have ever imagined. The hatred of white people wanting to ban black people, or jews, or anyone from existing; the hatred of anyone who thinks it’s okay to beat up someone because of who they are – none of this is God’s plan. I believe God had already created another world, before this one, and it got too horrible to exist anymore and so the big bang became. He said “stuff it” and threw his work into the trash can to start again. With us. And now he’s saying the same thing. But he’s trying to tell us. What about Noah’s ark? He told the floods were coming to wipe out everything, and now the floods are coming again. Now the screwing up of the paper is happening and eventually we too will be in the trash can if we can’t sort it out.

None of this probably makes any sense to anyone else. All I know is that the God I know, the God that speaks to me, does not want me to judge. He wants me to love, He wants me to be kind, He wants me to be as welcoming to his children – all of them – as I can be. It was and is never our job to judge. We do not get to say who gets into heaven and who doesn’t – we cannot make that call. We are not the judge of God’s decision. All we have been put on earth to do is to love one another and somehow keep this world moving forward and progressing towards peace.


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Poverty in New Zealand – It exists and it’s bigger than you think (aka, screw you damien grant)

You want to talk poverty? Don’t compare a first world country – one with numerous cities and on par to huge countries like Australia and United States of America – to a small village in the pacific nations…You don’t compare an apple to orange do you? (I bet you do – then complain that they taste different…) If both Amnesty International, AND Unicef are making reports and condemning New Zealand’s child poverty, you know it not only exists, but that it’s exceptionally bad.

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Courtesy of: http://www.childpoverty.co.nz/

You say there’s no poverty in New Zealand – how can there be? We have free education, it’s the families and children that don’t care to turn up. But free as it may be, free isn’t always so. Sure, the education is free – but things add up. The price of petrol or a bus fare each day – twice a day – is something that you probably didn’t think about. And what about a child in primary school and a child in high school? More petrol, more money. The price of school supplies and even a school uniform doesn’t come free. The education is free, but what good is that education if you don’t a have a book to write it down in? Compulsory camps and excursions aren’t free either…you see, free is never truly free.

And then to further the education scheme – tertiary education. National wants to make student loans have an interest rate. If you start doing that, you will see less youth seeking out tertiary study options therefore raising the risk of unemployment sufficiently – when it’s already at an alarming high. This begins the cycle again.

You sing his praises, and maybe John Key did increased the welfare amount but that doesn’t mean it’s still a livable amount. Say living costs were at 100$ per week (I know, in what world!) and welfare was 100$ a week – that means that those on the welfare can get by, without being able to save for any future costs that may come up (a car breaking down, urgent home repairs etc), but they can survive. Then living costs increase to 200$ per week – because the economy is like that – but the government goes “Oh, if the living cost has increased, we need to increase the amount we give too!” And so welfare amount goes to 150$. It has increased, sure. But it doesn’t mean it’s livable and morally right.

“The poorest kiwi child enjoys access to an unrivaled bounty of inexpensive food” – before I even start, enjoys??? I don’t know about you but I don’t think I would enjoy being in poverty. Inexpensive food is correct, New Zealand does have some great and cheap options for food. But you see the problem with cheap food is that it’s not all that nutritionally valuable. It holds barely (if any) vitamins, minerals, or good fats. There aren’t copious amounts of protein like in your delicious quinoa you probably have twice a week there Mr Grant. This then causes children to fall sick. The Nelson Hospital Emergency Department is likely to see a child every day with a preventable condition. Why wasn’t it prevented? Because of things like diet. But it’s okay because they have meat on their bones, you can’t see their skeleton, so all must be well. At least they have access to that free healthcare right?!

Wrong. While it is free, kudos to that, it doesn’t mean it’s up to the standard it should be if we claim we truly are an amazing country. My brother was sent home numerous amounts of times when he had appendix issues because he wasn’t dying, and there weren’t enough beds. He spend years in and out of hospital because of this – and we weren’t even poor. Can you imagine how it would have been for someone who didn’t have money? You say it doesn’t matter, it’s free! But it does. If you look poor, they treat you as poor. “Oh it’s just a cold” and send you home. Low and behold we have need of a heart transplant because that cold was actually strep throat that became rheumatic fever and destroyed the child’s heart. “Oh but hospital staff wouldn’t discriminate!” But they do. They’re human. If you can tell me that poverty doesn’t exist while you sip your imported tea and a child somewhere else misses a meal, then I’m pretty sure hospital staff can discriminate.

A roof over your head doesn’t mean you are protected from the outside elements. State housing is free, cool! But is it safe? Children may have a roof over there heads, but the mould growing on those roofs and the walls they live in doesn’t do them any wonders. Respiratory issues, skin infections, and other illnesses can all be caused by an unsafe house. DR Nick Baker of Nelson Hospital told stuff this: “We have a number of babies we’ve looked after in the newborn unit, babies that have been born prematurely, and it’s really hard to send them home because there isn’t a home for them to go to.” – This was written in July, of 2017. A month ago…But it’s okay because poverty doesn’t exist.

It’s really easy for someone who hasn’t been poor to assume that these are the only issues someone faces or requires when living and being in poverty. The fact that you don’t have to think about spending additional money on petrol or buses, or on nutritional food – the fact that you think your wealth doesn’t impact your access and treatment in free settings such as hospitals is proof of your lack of understanding of what it means to be poor and to be able to afford basic necessities.

People don’t want Jacinda because shes “”dramatic and exciting”, or because she has “rock-star appeal”. People want Jacinda because she’s young, she’s not rich, and she knows how it is to be young and living in New Zealand facing the troubles we see today. You say we don’t have child poverty? I say, take a look down the streets in the neighbourhoods you’re too scared to go to. The ones you avoid because you think you’re going to have something stolen. Take a look at the mould in their homes, take a look at the children struggling to have a childhood similar to the one you had, take a look at the kids that are in poverty, and are being told it doesn’t exist.


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Motherhood – Societies pressure to become a mother

Let’s talk about motherhood! I know – me, not a mother, speaking about motherhood. What am I thinking?! Hear me out. I want to talk about motherhood and why women feel a societal pressure to become mothers.

Ever since we are little we are told we are to grow up and become mothers. Heck, most of girls toys are targeted to being a mother. From a young age we are programmed to believe it is our destiny to become a mother and to have children. But it’s a lie. I would say that very few people are truly meant for motherhood. Just because you have maternal instincts if doesn’t necessarily mean you should be a mother. You have to have passion and drive and be committed to this child – that tiny human – that you bring into this world and depends on you. You cannot half ass it. Motherhood is not a “maybe” or a “why not” situation. It’s all or nothing. You owe it to that child.

I’ve always been really good with kids. Ever since I was little, children gravitated to me and I to them. I think it’s because I’m still a five year old at heart. I have very good maternal instincts I think, and being good with children one could assume I am going to become a mother. The truth is I most likely won’t. I’m still very 50/50, up in the air about it and I refuse to bring a child into my life when I am not fully committed to raising them and being their parent. Just because I’m good with kids and very maternal it does not mean I’m going to be a mother – not unless I’m all in.

If you are not fully committed to being a mother then how else are you going to survive when your two year old is throwing a tantrum in the middle of the store and 80 people are staring? How are you going to survive the tears when they can’t communicate what’s wrong? These are rhetorical questions because I know exactly how you will react. You see it on the TV – child abuse and neglect. These are mothers that believed they had to bring children into this world even though they weren’t committed entirely to the idea. Children are frustrating, they are hair pulling worthy, but they ultimately don’t mean to be. They are still learning. As a mother you have to know this and have patience and when you aren’t all in, crying and screaming and frustration are hard to survive.

But what are the true effects of semi-commitment? Surely they’re just minor…well they aren’t. It can lead to mental illness in children that can carry on to adolescent and adulthood. A half-assed parent can create attachment issues and inability to form proper relationships. It can create a loneliness of being unwanted, of not feeling like they are their mothers whole heart. It is not fair for you to bring a child into this world and leave them with these fears and feelings. Half-assing motherhood can create a whole different life path for children – a path that can have devastating effects.

At the end of the day it’s very simple. Don’t have kids unless you are a hundred percent sure you want them. Unless you know that you will give everything to them. Even on the days where you might not want to. Don’t do it just because that’s what you think you’re supposed to do. It’s not fair on the children you will bring into this world to have a mother only half invested. These children come into this world and they never asked to be brought here – you did that. You have to follow through and be totally willing to raise that child. That’s the commitment you made when you became a mother – that you would love this child 100% without fail – even when they say you smell and tell you that you cut their food wrong. It’s all or nothing.


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Metiria Turei Situation – Careful NZ, your discrimination against poor people is showing

Other than a nuclear war threat to the US and the escalation made by Trumpet-man, the worst thing to happen today was the resignation made by Metiria Turei. I understand her reasoning behind handing it in, but I resent the reasoning for why she had to even do such a thing.

When she came out with the truth, I honestly thought “finally! Someone is finally saying the flaws with the beneficiary system!” It seems the majority of New Zealand didn’t feel the same way. They wanted her resignation from the day she spoke, but she knew she had to fight – it wasn’t her life anymore but it was still thousands upon thousands of New Zealanders lives. It’s not just the beneficiary system either – the way New Zealand citizens view poor people, single mothers, and disabled people is inhumane. They are treated like a plague we don’t want to catch, but who’s own fault it is that they caught it themselves.

As a member of the New Zealand community, I want my tax paying money to be spent appropriately. I don’t want it to contribute to spending millions on police forces that are refusing to allow those on antidepressants work, or millions on a stall in a foreign show in hopes to attract international produce buyers. I want my tax dollars to pay for the mothers scared they won’t be able to put food on the table each night, I want my tax dollars to ensure that these people on a benefit are treated like humans – not like the underground of society; the uncle we don’t mention at family gatherings. As members of NZ, it is our job to keep each other above water. We aren’t meant to watch rich end on dry land, and poor tread water for too long they drown – but we do.

The media focused on the wrong thing and now beneficiaries that are struggling have no light shed on their situation via news media. There was a whole hashtag on twitter “IAmMetiria” and “#IStandWithMetiria” and yet did you see a news report on the thousands of New Zealanders telling their stories of being on the benefit and struggling to get by, or being treated like nothing but an annoyance? Did they bring in other beneficiaries to say “you know what, the system IS flawed and it DOES need fixing”? No. They just played with fire to create a reality show fit for TV and computer screens.

The main point of the story wasn’t that a young mother lied many years back, but that she had to – that a system was so flawed that to survive she had to rig the system. What would you have rather happened? Her and her daughter die from starvation or from health issues? Then you would be complaining that she should’ve tried harder to get more money…at some point you have to stop fighting it and realise that our perfect country isn’t so perfect. That we may treat our people like kings and queens- as long as they’re rich and look the part.

What about Todd Barclay and Bill English? Why did that only last three days in the media? That was far worse than anything Metiria did. Bill English even claimed more than $900 per week (twice what is eligible for an MP), and now owes $32,000…and that was for a house. Metiria owed $7800, for trying to put food on her table for her kid…New Zealand has the wrong priorities and I am so mad that we are willing to let a rich man slide for something done while in parliament for nothing but a luxury, but punish someone who couldn’t get by and couldn’t survive before entering parliament. It is a sad day for my faith in New Zealand today. I have never felt more alone and in this fight on my own than now.

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“We All Sleep Under the Same Stars” – Life in a hateful world

It seems like every week there’s a new instance of violence being used to get to their end goal. This used to be the sort of thing I would hear about happening in the United States – a country far bigger and much more populated than tiny old New Zealand. Now it’s everywhere. People are angry. It was brimming at the surface for a while, but with the United States electing Haters ‘R’ Us’s front man Donald Trombone, the rest of the world has slowly undone and become a much more violent place. It’s like the election of Trombone saw the acceptance for hate. People went “oh well if a sexual assaulter, racist, fascist, bigot can rise to power then that must be okay for me to do!” And since then people have taken every opportunity to be cruel and unkind in a effort to get their way.

It makes me so mad. It’s so simple, yet some people act like world peace is the most complicated thing in the world. Billionaire’s with enough money to feed nations in famine refuse to do so and sit on their wealth as a throne. It goes to waste – if it were food it would be the vegetables I swore I was going to eat but never did and eventually they rotted. Billions. A couple of million would make no dent in their riches, but would feed a nation out of hunger. But because they are greedy and believe they earned it all they refuse. Did they earn it all? Maybe. But only because members of the world brought into their product, or gimmick, or whatever it was. You rep what you sow – you cannot get without giving in return. It’s that simple. People want to be rich to flaunt off their wealth – most teenagers I know what to be rich to afford a house, and then tip underpaid waiters and workers 100$ bills. They want to give because they know how it is to get. It drives me mad and that’s the reason this has taken so long to write because each time I start I get worked up into a state of pure frustration. It. Is. That. Simple. Don’t be greedy, be kind, and help out your neighbour. If there was no greed, there would be no fight for power, there would be no cruel methods of gaining ears to listen.

I was watching a documentary on the Sandy Hook Masacre shooting, and one of the things mentioned in there was from the Indianapolis NRA National Convention in April of 2014. I believe it was Wayne LaPierre speaking to the crowds and he said “When you are out there on your own, the surest way to stop a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a gun.” This opinion was met with cheers and applause – after all it is a pro-gun convention. But the reality is that if there wasn’t a gun for the ‘bad guy’ to have, the ‘good guy’ wouldn’t need one either. If everyone was able to co-exist and not fight for power, for hatred, and for greed then no one would need protection. He shot down that school because no one listened. Because rich billionaires and humans decided they didn’t have to be kind. But it is our job upon entering this earth that we are kind. It’s the signed contract we have each been given just to gain our first breath. Then as we get older, we think that we deserve the world. We think we are owed things because we hold a privilege. We think because  we went to an Ivy League College we deserve the best jobs, that because we are white we are held above black people and when we are not we demand retribution. When a woman dismisses our advances we kill her because we were taught that we were entitled to a woman no matter how she felt. It warms my heart to see parents today teaching their children about privilege and how you are not owed anything. I hope I get to see the future where these kids are on the path to world peace and living among another.

As humans we are naturally greedy, we want to have it all. But to survive on this planet we cannot afford to be greedy and full of hatred. We have to be kind and caring. We have to take it back to the books that we preach from day in and day out – we use these books to proclaim our anti-gay marriage stance, to proclaim why muslims are terrorists; but what about the fundamentals of these books? Above all else, I believe no matter what God you believe in, the most crucial statement these Gods want us to note is that of love. Each God was about love. Love to it’s followers, and love to it’s sinners too. Embrace those that have wronged you and lead them to love. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. The words may change as the religions do, but the meaning is there. Treat others how you want to be treated.


I am so sorry this is a jumbled mess, as I said earlier I get so mad and angry that people can be so cruel and so unbelievably stupid. It’s so simple and they make it so complicated. Also don’t 


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Smacking, Not Our Future

In 2009 the New Zealand government enforced the Anti-Smacking Law. Around 30 countries in the world have banned physical punishment towards children in any setting, inclusive of the family home. The ban is not used to criminalise behaviour such as a parent smacking a child, but used to educate and raise awareness on the parenting “tactic”.

The reason smacking is such a bad form of punishment or discipline is that it doesn’t work, kids aren’t given a reason to why their behaviour is bad and so the parent has to continue escalating the smacking. This is why smacking is so dangerous. Parents need to understand that good discipline that works will never be quick. It takes time for a child’s brain to fully understand the issue and takes about three tries of good discipline for a child to learn that the behaviour is not good. Parents don’t always have that kind of patience and understanding and that’s why we have smacking. Hitting when angry, or frustrated, shows children that as long as they are angry enough, and big enough, they too can hit says Grace Malonai. When you smack a child, you teach them that violence is okay. You dismiss this as “not that bad” of a hit, but that’s the same excuse abusers use when their spouse or child winds up with bruises and broken bones. “Oh it wasn’t that hard!”, “It wasn’t that bad!” It is that bad. The idea that you WANT to hit your child is beyond me. The idea that you do hit your child is unfathomable.

Children who are smacked tend to take to violence and anger as a natural reaction. They rarely remain calm in situations and they are what is known as ‘hot blooded’. Other than physical injuries, multiple studies have shown that punishment such as smacking and other means of causing pain can lead to increase of aggression, antisocial behaviours, and mental health problems for children. All of which continue into adulthood. Children who are smacked are more likely to use hitting as a way to solve their conflicts with their friends and siblings – according to a study published in “Child Abuse and Neglect” 2011. A study found that children smacked by their mothers had fewer cognitive skills (Cognitive skills are the core skills your brain uses to think, read, learn, remember, reason, and pay attention) in comparison to other children not smacked. Research suggests this may be due to the fact that those smacked don’t learn to properly control their own behaviour. Another study done in 2013 shows that children smacked by their fathers were more likely to have problems with vocabulary and language. This same study found that children who are smacked are more likely to act defiantly in their behaviour. Malonai also notes that smacking a child can be damaging to the relationship shared between the parent and the child. Spanking can, instead of teaching good behaviour, teach a child to fear the parent. This can reduce the trust and sense of safety for the child. The negative effects are not always seen right away. Smacking changes the way a brain thinks and feels and therefore the effects are usually seen in adolescence and early adulthood.

Parents say that sometimes the behaviour is so bad that the only way to teach a child what is ‘right and wrong’. But Grace Maloni tells us this isn’t true. “In general, punishment has a very low effectiveness rate”. If we are wanting to correct ill behaviours in our children, smacking is clearly not effective, and the argument void.

When you smack a child, you aren’t telling them why the activity is bad, you aren’t telling them what they did wrong. And they will do it again. When they finally don’t do it again, it isn’t because they understand “oh if I am mean to my brother it will make him upset”, they simply stop because “if I’m mean to my brother my mum will hit me”. They begin to fear their parents, fear making decisions. Graham-Bermann says that physical punishment will only work for a moment, and only because they fear being hit.

The most effective form of discipline is to explain why it’s bad. Tell them the effects it has on them, and those around them. Teach them that it matters how others feel, how they will feel once the deed is done. eg. if they hurt their sibling, they might feel bad after too. A huge factor of parenting is remembering that these are children. They don’t know right from wrong and we need to teach it to them. They aren’t always understanding of their actions.

If you have a child that’s aged four and under, the best means to stop a situation is to explain it, tell them the effects, but keep in mind that they are most likely too young to understand. It is so important to explain it anyway. Then distract. I saw this amazing “time out” DIY that is perfect for young children. It gives them a distraction and it looks amazing! If they’re having a tantrum, it can calm them down too. When they are old enough to comprehend your words, it’s then about explaining, and patience. When explaining a situation, always relate it back to them. If they’ve taken a toy of another child, say “That wasn’t very nice. Look they’re upset. You get upset when someone takes your toy. You don’t like it when your toys are taken and neither do they.” Kids are very narcissistic (I kid) and tend to understand things better when they can relate it to themselves and how they feel. It creates a more empathetic child, and ultimately a more empathetic adult. This is where patience is key. Children don’t learn right away – if your child does, count those blessings! So it will take a few tries of explaining before they will actually understand and “listen”. Realise they are listening the whole time, even if it doesn’t feel like it, but they don’t always process it correctly or they don’t understand it sufficiently to continue the good behaviour. Patience. Patience. Patience.

And finally, a very important quote from Elizabeth Gershoff, “I can just about count on one hand the studies that have found anything positive about physical punishment and hundreds that have been negative.” – Just because some good things may come from it, it doesn’t mean the good are able to outweigh the bad. If we want functional children who grow to be functional adults – including emotionally – then we need to learn different means of discipline. We need to stop thinking it’s okay to hit our children. If you aren’t going to be able to have a child draw on your wall three times before they learn the lesson then you might want to rethink your parenting dreams. Parenting requires patience. These children rely on you for protection and proper learning – and you cannot betray that by hitting them and not allowing their brains to function properly. A lot of people believe you have to have kids, and therefore those that aren’t emotionally capable to handle being a parent end up losing patience, which results in smacking and violent discipline.