An Auckland Christian school is unrepentant about sending a pamphlet to parents explaining how to spank children effectively.
Carey College, a small school of about 50 students in Panmure, hit back today at Green MP Sue Bradford, who described the pamphlet as "outrageous and slightly perverse".
Principal Michael Drake also attacked Children's Commissioner Cindy Kiro, who was reported as planning to contact the school about its "irresponsible" action.
"I think it is inappropriate for a public servant to attempt to silence debate," Mr Drake said.
"If she wants to win support, she's not going to win it by jumping on people who disagree with her."
The pamphlet, A Working Definition of Spanking, is published on the website of Family Integrity, a Palmerston North group set up 18 months ago by Craig and Barbara Smith of the Home Education Foundation, a Christian home-schooling support group.
It says many Christians see spanking as part of their religious duty to deal with "a child's rebellious actions and attitudes as soon as they manifest themselves in any of the four Ds: disobedience, dishonesty, disrespect or destructiveness".
"Spanking is the controlled, measured, purposeful and judicial use of reasonable force in private to correct/train/ discipline one's own child to conform to previously explained standards of behaviour and attitude," it says.
"It may be a stiff, flexible rod applied to the clothed buttocks in private.
"It may be a parent's hand applied to the child's clothed buttocks or hand, forearm or leg."
In another pamphlet on The Christian Foundations of the Institution of Corporal Correction, also made available to Carey College parents, Mr Smith argues that since Adam's fall from grace "children are not little bundles of innocence: they are little bundles of depravity (see Psalm 51:5) and can develop into unrestrained agents of evil".
He quotes Proverbs 22:15, which states: "Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction will drive it far from him."
He says it is better to use a rod rather than a hand, because a parent's hand should be a source of "love, care and affection".
"A smack completely settles the issue, for once administered, and counselling and cuddling and prayer have followed, the offence need never again be mentioned," the pamphlet says.
"Grounding, giving them `time out', making them stand in the corner, forfeiting pocket money, etc, do not deal with the problem of sin in the heart, are hard to police, cause the offence to be remembered for far too long and can cause resentment to build up."
Ms Bradford, who has a bill in Parliament to remove parents' exemption from the general law of assault, said the pamphlet reminded her of sexual bondage and discipline.
"It's based in the Old Testament," she said. "It's a really terrible approach to take theologically, politically and socially.
"I think it's a real pity that a Christian school isn't following the Christian principles of compassion and love for children rather than advocating physical discipline at this level."
But she said it was useful for the public to see the arguments for physical discipline so people could understand the need to make parents subject to the assault laws.
"They say that children must be under the total control of the parents and that it's the parents' literally God-given right to physically discipline their children, not just by smacking but also with a stiff, flexible rod," she said.
"I accept his right to say that. But I hope other parents will be as shocked as I am by the fact that some people are seeing little children as evil. It's a disgrace
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