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Patricia Thompson

Doctor of Philosophy, (Social Work)
Study Completed: 2016
College of Health


Thesis Title
To Smack or not to Smack, is that the Question? The Social Perspectives on the issue of Child Discipline held by a Cohort of Mothers in Aotearoa New Zealand and what they indicate

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The controversial legislative change of the Crimes (Substituted section 59) Amendment Act 2007 to remove the legal loophole for parents to physically harm their children for disciplinary reasons received more public submissions than any other legislation in New Zealand history. Through the use of Q methodology and abductive logic, social perspectives held by a cohort of mothers identified that the contentious debates included wider issues such as children’s rights, parental rights, socialisation of children, religion and the role of government. A substantive review of the literature to date read against the social perspectives, a bio-ecological framework and attachment theory identified the significance of the relationship between mother and child and how that is manifested through positive versus punitive parenting styles. Her research indicates the necessity to take a step back in order to challenge the discourses on ‘discipline’ and ‘punishment’ that currently exist in the literature as well as in our everyday conversations.

Associate Professor Robin Peace

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