A book teaching parents how to smack, thump and pull their children's hair could soon be banned in New Zealand following a complaint.
To Train Up a Child has been removed from Whitcoulls' online store but other leading book sites are still selling it.
The book, by fundamentalist United States Christians Michael and Debi Pearl, promotes using a rod, such as a branch or belt, several times on a child as a way of disciplining and training them to obey.
It has courted controversy worldwide after a California couple who followed the book's instructions were convicted of murdering their seven-year-old adopted daughter.
The New Zealand Internal Affairs Department's Censorship Compliance Unit confirmed it was investigating the book after a complaint was made last week.
An American child abuse victim, now living in New Zealand, complained to Whitcoulls, which agreed to remove the book from its website. The victim said he was shocked to find out the book was being sold in New Zealand, despite the country's
anti-smacking law. He said: I'm not one to prevent books from being sold, ...BUT... I think an instruction manual on how to enact violence on your child is a completely different story.
Sue Bradford, who campaigned as a Green Party MP to remove the defence of reasonable force when disciplining a child, said she was concerned parents would buy the book and follow its instructions.
Censorship Compliance Unit manager Stephen OBrien said the book's content would be investigated and, if it was found to be objectionable, it could be either banned, restricted or referred to the human rights or children's commissioners.
There are 1309 books already banned in New Zealand.
A book teaching parents how to smack, thump and pull their children's hair has been submitted to the New Zealand book censor.
The Censorship Compliance Unit assessed the book, written by fundamentalist Christians Michael and Debi Pearl, and decided not to ban or restrict it.
A spokesman for the Department of Internal Affairs, which the office and unit belong to, said while the book was contrary to section 59 of the Crimes Act, which stated a parent or guardian could not use any force on a child for the purpose of
correction , that wasn't sufficient reason to justify restricting or banning the 20-year-old book.
The complainant could, however, ask that the Office of Film and Literature Classification also investigate the book's content.
To Train Up A Child courted controversy worldwide after a California couple who followed its instructions were convicted of murdering their seven-year-old adopted daughter.
Milli Hill of Somerset is a parenting columnist for Somerset Life Magazine and blogger for The Mule.
She has created on online petition entitled
Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO: Refuse to carry books which advocate the physical abuse of children. The petition urges Amazon (both .com and .co.uk) to stop allowing books that purportedly advocate, endorse, and advise parenting techniques that
involve the physical abuse of children as a disciplinary technique. Examples of some titles targeted by the petition include To Train Up A Child by Michael and Debi Pearl, Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp, and Don't Make
Me Count to Three by Ginger Plowman. The petition continues:
Such books, and others like them, promote behaviour which is abusive of children. All of the above books advocate the use of a rod and other implements on children under one.
Such behaviour is abusive to children, and it is also 'offensive', which is contrary to Amazon's Content Guidelines.
It may well also be illegal, as it seems to go far beyond the 'reasonable chastisement' currently sanctioned by law in the UK, (where this petition originated) and in many US States. Not only is beating on a regular basis with a rod likely to
leave a mark, which is illegal in the UK, it is also likely to amount to inhuman or degrading treatment, which is a breach of human rights.
We wish Amazon to urgently review their decision to stock any book or other product which advises the physical abuse of children.
The petition currently stands at 10,425. Apparently this includes many notable names in the field of children's rights, psychology, child development, and religious child maltreatment.
Perhaps a little strange that the group does not petition against the religions that prove such a fertile breeding ground for bad attitudes to children.