Family First has made a submission before the Justice and Electoral Committee in Auckland today on the Crimes (Abolition of Force as a Justification for Child Discipline) Amendment Bill – the repeal of s59. Family First highlighted a number of myths being perpetuated by the supporters of the repeal.
1. The police (and CYF) won’t investigate parents for light smacks and removal to “time-out”.
The Police have already indicated that they will need to investigate any complaint, which will immediately place a family under enormous pressure. Child Youth and Family have a zero tolerance to smacking, and already actively pursue prosecution – irrespective of s59. QC’s Stuart Grieve and Grant Illingworth have indicated that any form of touching, including Time Out and even the threat of touching, could become assault under this Bill.
“That is an unacceptable burden on parents.” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of the Family First Lobby. “According to the Chair of the Nordic Committee for Human Rights, many parents in Sweden (which banned smacking in 1979) are afraid of their children and dare not correct them for fear of bring reported to the Police, indicted and fined or sent to prison.”
2. Repealing s59 will stop child abusers
It is drug abuse, alcohol abuse, poverty, and the breakdown of marriages and families that leads to abuse. Coral Burrow’s murder was related to the drug ‘P’, alcohol was a major issue with the murder of Delcelia Witika, and in the cases of James Whakaruru, Mereana Edwards, Saliel Aplin and Olympia Jensen, Pirimai Simmond, and Lillybing, the common factor was not smacking – it was the absence of the natural father.
UNICEF, in a 2004 report, identified poverty and stress – along with drug and alcohol abuse – as the factors most closely and consistently associated with child abuse and neglect. It is also interesting to note that of the 5 countries with the lowest child abuse rate in the report, 4 allow smacking.
3. s59 is protecting child abusers
On average, 1.4 cases per year use the defence of s59 in New Zealand. Of the 18 cases from 1990 to 2002, only 6 were found not guilty using s59 as a defence – that is 6 successful defences under s59 in 12 years!
Child abusers cannot hide behind s59.