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The ‘horse whip’ case

There's been an interesting case I've discovered here in NZ that involved a boy being disciplined by his mother with a riding crop (which was turned into a horse whip by media). As a result of the discipline, the child's behaviour improved at school. This was regarded as suspicious by the school, who contacted CYFS (Children, Youth & Family Services). CYFS discovered the improvement in behavious was due to the 'corporal punishment' and removed the child from the parents' care. According to this article at the NZ Herald it went to court and a jury found the mother not guilty, which under normal circumstances would mean that the child would be returned to the parents. Not in this case, however, as CYFS ignored the court's decision and decided they didn't want the child returned to its family. Apparently the decision of a jury and a court of law was irrelevent to them.

Currently, the only information available is via a blog that details the story, along with subsequent follow-up posts. The author is apparently friends of the family in question, and has been able to get information from the family themselves. The problem I have with this is that apart from the NZ Herald news item linked above, this single blog and its' author is the only other source of information, which all other articles and websites point back to. There is no external sources detailing CYFS response, or even the validity of the claims made against CYFS. All we have is hearsay provided by the author, and hearsay doesn't make for a balanced and accurate story.

I sent an email to Jim Anderton, an MP who is mentioned on the blog as being contacted about this. Unfortunately he's unavailable to comment, but his advisor, Tony Simpson, assures me that "the case is complex and goes beyond the question of the use of force against the child".

So what are we not being told about this case? There are either circumstances that we don't know of, which give CYFS the right to keep the child, or CYFS is acting above the law. Of concern, however, is the information that the child is being drugged against his will, apparently because he has behavioural problems. Hmmm… Could this be because he's being kept from his family? The same family that successfully improved the child's behaviour in a way that was found by a court of law to NOT be unreasonable?

Tony Simpson also stated, "in my experience, and notwithstanding what people sometimes say, CYFS don't lightly taken children out of families and into custody unless there is some very good reason for doing so, although whether that's the case here or not I'm simply not able to say because we don't have the facts."

And that's really the crux of the matter, isn't it. We don't have the facts. All that's available is hearsay, and until such time as the facts come to light, all we can do is discuss the conjecture. What we know can't be substantiated, and while it certainly inflames the mind to think that atrocious acts are being committed by CYFS, they certainly may be justified in their actions. How do we really know?

I have a feeling I'll be coming back to this issue in the future though.

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