Magistrate lays the down law on home discipline

PARENTS who use a strap to discipline their children could find themselves in court.

That was the clear warning issued by Magistrate Deborah Vasta in Ipswich Magistrates Court yesterday.

Ms Vasta was hearing the case of a father charged for hitting his six-year-old son with a belt.

She described the incident as a "misguided attempt at old fashioned discipline".

Ms Vasta told the man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, he was doing a good job of raising his five children but an incident in which his son was injured in May this year was a last ditch attempt at controlling the child's behaviour.

She said the offending was outside the standard set by society.

The court heard the child was "getting into a great deal of trouble at school" and the family had tried other methods of discipline including cutting his play time and taking his toys.

"You very calmly put him over your lap and used a belt to hit him a number of times," Ms Vasta said.

"We now live in a society where the standards are as such that you should not arm yourself when you discipline a child.

"Society considers a hand sufficient and if you had used your hand you would not be here today.

"There are quite a few members of the public who would not see a problem with what you did.

"It was very controlled and it was done in the context of domestic discipline but it has just gone a little bit too far to what society deems acceptable."

The court heard the offence was not done in anger but with a "specific purpose in mind".

Defence lawyer Matthew Fairclough said child safety became involved following the incident but was not required to take any action.

"This is not reflective of his abilities, attitude or behaviour as a parent," Mr Fariclough said.

Ms Vasta sentenced the 29-year-old to a 12 month good behaviour bond and ordered he complete a Positve Parenting Program.

References handed up to the court from the man's employer said he had "strong family and work ethics".

The man pleaded guilty to one count of assault occasioning bodily harm while armed.

Positive Parenting Program

Queensland parents can sign up for a range of face-to-face or DIY Triple P programs for free.

To find out more or register for a session visit www.triplep-parenting.net.



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