‘Loving’ family goes into hiding, fears separation


‘Loving’ family goes into hiding, fears separation
Friday, 11 April 2008
By Sophie Rishworth
A large family “living rough” on the outskirts of Tiniroto has gone bush as the nation’s media tries to track them down.

Yesterday, camera crews and repo rters from at least two television channels and one national newspaper were pursuing them after East Coast MP Anne Tolley drew national attention in Parliament to their lifestyle.

Her concern was over the fact they were living in makeshift conditions and that CYF had not intervened.

The family’s 13 children were living without water, toilets and electricity and had not been attending school since August last year, she said.

But those who know the family say they are a “very loving” family whose only fear is being separated.

Sandra and Peter Smith, both in their 40s, in fact have 16 children, aged between 1 and 17, and have been living at various locations around Te Reinga, Tiniroto and Wairoa.

The children are described as happy, helpful and healthy, with the older ones helping out with the younger ones.

It is understood the family were victims of a violent home invasion in September 2006, when men brandishing guns, softball bats and bars forced their way into their Naenae home.

They have been transient ever since.

The family have applied to the Ministry of Education to home-school their children.

Nancy Brooking, who lived with the family for about five months when they stayed at her Te Mokai property, said both parents were very committed to their children’s education.

“The children were delightful, so happy and so respectful . . . if they saw me doing something, they would run over to help me.

“But they didn’t have the resources, they didn’t have anything.”

Ms Brooking worked in psychological services for 12 years at Rimutaka prison and said she has seen the end result of children who were not cared for.

“If this couple can get the support they need to continue to raise their children as they are, then the children will not end up where I’ve just come from. They are well cared for.”

The Smith children did not have any behavioural problems, she said.

Ms Brooking said she felt disillusioned after numerous approaches to agencies to get the family help with the resources they needed.

Social agencies seemed to view the parents as irresponsible in the way they looked after their children, when in fact it was quite the opposite, she said.

“They look at her and ask ‘why did you have all these children?’ In my tribe she would be a gem . . . I find her just amazing,” she said.

“She taught her children how to cook, how to grow vegetables and wanted to incorporate that into their education. She also taught them singing and interacting with each other.

The children had been to school but were subject to bullying and teasing about being poor and coming from a large family.

“They were teased about the fact they didn’t have what other children had, didn’t have the lunch that other children had — they just had peanut butter and bread.

“There was no bullying at home, no swearing — the older ones would always support the smaller ones. They are a really tight family unit.”

Ms Brooking said the parents struggled with transport costs getting the children to and from school.

She described Peter Smith as a quiet, reserved man who was very capable and intelligent.

“He was a top athlete when he was a young lad, but he had to leave school early to help his father.”

“I saw the same athletic ability in the children — they are very, very athletic.” .

Their dream was to have a little property where they could grow vegetables, home- school and raise their children, she said.

Ms Brooking said the conditions she was offering them were sub-standard and it began to worry her that the children were living in rooms that were leaking and the parents were sleeping on the floor.

But the family would rather stay together in sub-standard circumstances than have the children farmed out.

Ms Brooking said she asked agencies for help in improving conditions so the family could stay there, but received none.

The parents lived in fear of having the children taken away from them because of the substandard conditions.

They left Te Mokai and went to a campsite at Tiniroto over summer. From there, they moved down the road to a relative’s house at Te Reinga.

Neighbours say the parents kept to themselves but the children could often be seen playing in the yard, running around and laughing.

“The only crying we heard was from the wee baby. We never heard any fighting,” said the neighbour.

Child Youth and Family have said they will co-ordinate the support of other relevant agencies to help the family.

“The family have told us they are very upset at the large amount of personal information regarding them and their circumstances that has been discussed in public,” said national media adviser Lee Harris Royal.

“They have asked us to protect their privacy by not commenting on the family’s affairs in the media.

“We intend to respect their wishes.”

“Child, Youth and Family have been working with this family to find a solution to the issues they face.

“We will continue to do so. We are committed doing all in our power to support and strengthen this whanau.”

Story by The Gisborne Herald
Copyright © The Gisborne Herald

The Anti-Spanking Lobby

The Anti-Spanking Lobby

Posted in Statist and Professional Trends

Our family had a lot of fun a few weeks ago when we appeared on the Holmes Show as the “Disciples of Discipline”! I had written an article on spanking, the parental skill of the judicial application of the rod of correction, which appeared in a recent edition of Above Rubies. Someone had sent a copy to Holmes.He had read in that article that we were Christians, spank our children, are home schoolers and foster parents as well. He may have thought he was on to some fringe people or extremists, which always make good stories. Well, if you ever find yourself in this position,and I hope many of you do, since many New Zealand parents are literally tearing apart at the seams because they do not know are totally unaware of the educational and parenting skills many of us Christian home schoolers take for granted. If you are ever in this position, you must plan ahead. Speak only in measured and calm tones. Decide before hand what you want to say and what you do not want to say. Anticipate the trickiest questions they might ask and practise how you should answer them.

They spent the first two hours with us filming and talking about home schooling. They then indicated that they were favourably impressed with us as a family. So we relaxed about the upcoming interview on spanking. And sure enough, they were easy on us and did not try to make us look bad. We believe the Lord also overruled when the final cut and editing took place as His Biblical standards seem to have come across accurately.

So where is the debate on whether to ban smacking in the horne up to at this point? I rang Labour MP for Hamilton East, Dianne Yates’ office, and they assured me she had no further plans to introduce legislation of that sort. Someone rang me to say that the Minister of Justice also had no plans to amend the Crimes Act to make spanking illegal. I rang the office of the Commissioner for Children in Wellington to see what they were up to. Although they have nothing in the pipeline at the moment, it was conveyed to me that when the political and social climate was right, they would be considering moves to ban parental corporal discipline. They have already published several pamphlets with titles like, “Hitting Children Is Unjust.” Now, most of us would hopefully agree that to haul off and hit a child with a back-hand across the mouth because you were annoyed is totally unacceptable. But to this crowd, hitting also means smacking and spanking no matter how lightIy or lovingly done. They also sent me a disturbing article by a Ms Penelope Leach, titled, “What’s Wrong with Hitting Children?” It is terribly biased. Check out this paragraph explaining that abused children seem to blame themselves for the abuse, and never the one who abused them. Watch the language carefully:

“A study of a very large sample of University students, reported in the international journal Child Abuse and Neglect shows that this tendency to self-blame for physical punishment continues into adult life and therefore into parenthood. Subjects retrospectively justified not only punitive but brutal parents by assigning crimes to the children they used to be. Far from blaming those parents, they often expressed gratitude to them for the way they themselves had grown up. And during interviews, they consistently played down the violence used towards them. For example, 80% reported being spanked as children, but only 40% reported that they had received ‘physical punishment’; for many young adults, then, smacked bottoms were too trivial to count. Some subjects had suffered lasting bruises from parental beatings, but only 10% of them considered those punishments to have been excessive or cruel. Even amongst the group of students who had received hospital treatment for fractures, or other serious injuries resulting from parental punishment, only 43 % classified themselves as having been ‘abused’ or ‘cruelly treated’. The study concludes that ‘the recipients of punitive physical discipline are the least likely to recognise its inappropriateness.”

I find this paragraph one of the best promotions IN FAVOUR OF smacking from the pen of unbelievers that I have ever read. As much as the authors clearly despise spanking, those University student-subjects of theirs clearly did not. So the authors had to fabricate imaginative interpretations of their findings to agree with what they wanted to find . These poor, confused University students were so perverted by their loyalty to their parents that they were unable to think for themselves. Even among those who definitely had been subjected to excessive force, the kind that broke bones, only 43 % said they had been ‘abused’ or ‘cruelly treated’. So tbe study reckoned that these adult aged University students were a) deluded, b) unable to recognise their ill treatment and c) so rnessed up as to actually express gratitude for the way their parents had treated them. In other words, if you disagree with the authors’ pre-commitment to the idea that spanking is never justified, by their reckoning you need professional help for you are clearly not a full packet of biscuits!

Write to the Office of the Commissioner for Children for their pamphlets and a copy of this article quoted above: PO Box 12537, Wellington, ph. (04) 471-1410, Fax (04) 471-1418. Moves to make criminals out of us parents who spank our children are likely to come from this office.

From Keystone Magazine
November 1995 , Vol. 1 No. 5
P O Box 9064
Palmerston North
Phone: (06) 357-4399
Fax: (06) 357-4389
email: craig