Riley Speaks

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


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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.


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Pro-Choice /= Pro-Abortion

It’s 2017, why is this even a blog post I am writing? This debate has been going on for decades and it’s the most ridiculous thing to exist. How I got to be so understanding and have the compassion that “pro-lifers” seem to lack is beyond me, but here we are.

I’m not pro-abortion. I believe you have the right to make decisions based on your own beliefs and ideals. By keeping abortion illegal and by making it a criminal offense, you are taking away other people’s right to make decisions based off their beliefs and ideals. You are taking away the same right you have – to choose not to have an abortion – from another person. My belief is that if you do not want the pregnancy, you can terminate it. Say you fall pregnant and maybe you don’t want it but you’re against abortion so you have it anyway – I could realistically come in and say well no, you have to have an abortion. My belief is that people should be able to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. Does it sound completely unfair and definitely unjust? Welcome to compassion and understanding.

Religion. This is a huge part of why abortion is illegal. Church should not find itself in the Government. It is a separate entity and should be treated as such. How come other religions don’t get to be included in the Government? What makes Christians so special? I believe in God. And I also believe that other people deserve the right to choose. I choose to believe in God, I choose to do these things. Why shouldn’t others get that same opportunity? Why should I be any different and special so as to be the only one who gets to make a choice? My God does not care if you kill some cells. He has a soul up in heaven waiting for you and if He cannot bring it to you through your own body He will find a way. After all he is a miracle worker. If when my times comes, and I’m called before God and He tells me that He did in fact oppose abortion, I know I would still be welcomed into His kingdom because it was not my place to pass judgement. It was not my place to force another of His children into my beliefs.

Being pro-choice is not the same as being pro-abortion and I’m willing to bet there is no one pro-abortion. People have somehow confused the two and begun to see pro-choice as if it were pro-abortion. What I am asking for – and what every other sane human being is  asking and promoting – is the right for people to have the choice.

Scenario I – My friend and I walk into an ice cream shop. My friend picks chocolate flavour, but I don’t like that flavour. I tell her no. She has to have vanilla. Here I am telling my friend that she cannot have chocolate ice cream for no reason other than because I don’t like it. Am I going to be eating her ice cream? No. Am I going to even be affected by her chocolate ice cream? No. Is the person behind the counter going to be affected by her choice? No. Do you see what is happening here?

Scenario II – My friend and I walk into a pet store, she’s looking for a dog. I don’t like dogs (I do, but for the sake of the scenario I don’t) and so I tell her that I don’t like dogs. She tells me “okay, don’t buy a dog.” I don’t buy a dog. When she gets to the counter to pay I say nothing and I walk out with her. Was this wrong? Yes. Why? Because I forgot to remind her to get dog food. Other than the lack of nutrition, there is no reason why my friend cannot buy herself a dog if she wants one. It’s her choice. Regardless of my opinion on the matter, she can choose to buy a dog if she wants because she’s allowed to make her own decisions. Remember how they tell you that about 100 times in primary school? It doesn’t change…or it shouldn’t.

I am not promoting abortions, I am not pro-abortion. I am human and I realise that people who fall pregnant and don’t want to be/cannot be are going to find a way to terminate that foetus. I would rather they have the option of it being done safely by a professional. No one wants an abortion. Not like you want an ice cream truck or a bouncy castle. You want an abortion the way you want to get a filling done. You don’t (unless you have a filling procedure fetish?) want to do it but you have to before it gets worse.

One more time for the people in the back – pro-choice /= pro-abortion.


If you live in NZ – or are just a good human being and understand that everyone has the right to choose – please sign this petition to get abortions decriminalised in New Zealand. At present, although you can get an abortion, it is still classed as a crime to have an abortion. It’s got to change.

>SIGN THIS PETITION<