John Cowan: Lucan Battison court decision

John Cowan

John Cowan says “The law is a clumsy tool to use in issues that have got more to do with the heart, opinion and tradition.”

Lucan Battison has won his case against his school. I think if I was going to commit murder, the Hawke’s Bay might be a good place to do it if I wanted to get away with it. That might be unfair – I suppose the judge can only rule on points of law and what’s presented before him, and so I presume he technically got it legally right even though my jaw dropped when I heard the news. It shows that the law is a clumsy tool to use in issues that have got more to do with the heart, opinion and tradition.

Even though I think the hair rules at St John’s (and all schools) are pretty dumb, I concede schools have the right to make dumb rules like this and to enforce them. And you’d think every judge in country would agree with that and so I can only think the school must have made a hash of it somewhere – maybe the way they worded the rule or applied it in an unfair way – but I don’t know. But what I am pretty sure of is that the kids at St John’s, and probably other schools, too, won’t see it like that. They won’t appreciate that this case was won on some technical legal loophole; they will just see that a school’s authority can be defied anytime they don’t like a rule. And the job of teachers just got a bit a harder.

This unusual case is reminiscent of something far too common – when couples don’t love or respect each other and contradict each other’s rules, undermining the other parent’s authority in front of the children.

“Mum said we’re not allowed to watch this program!” “That’s all right – she’s being too sensitive.”

Of course parents will have different opinions on all sorts of things to do with child-rearing, but most of the time we realise that we need to compromise and negotiate with each other so that the kids see a united front, for the children’s good.

The Battison’s, with the school are meant to be like a family looking after Lucan, sharing responsibility for him, and that needs respect and some goodwill. But apparently the school wouldn’t negotiate and the Battisons wouldn’t back down either. If they were a family I’d fear for their marriage and really despair for their children.

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John Cowan

Writer, speaker and broadcaster, John Cowan shares his insight and opinions about the latest in parenting and family news in New Zealand. Hear John speak on radio stations every week throughout the country and regularly on national TV.  Follow @JohnCowanNZ on Twitter

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