Ruby Harrold-Claesson, a Swedish lawyer, who defends families in Sweden who are being prosecuted and who are having their children taken from them under the Swedish no-smacking legislation, sounded a warning bell to kiwi parents this morning.
On National Radio, she said “When a child is smacked, someone might report it to the police, maybe the child. Even children in pre-school are told ‘your parents are not supposed to smack you but if your parent should smack you, report it to us’ and the pre-school reports it to the Police.”
She said that what was supposed to be a moral guide is being enforced through the criminal code.
What was originally called “ill-treatment” is now called “Disturbance of the Peace” or “Gross Disturbance”. When a aprent grabs a child by the arm, or takes him by his neck, or smacks his hand or bottom, everything that is done towards a child is disturbing the peace of that child. This amendment happened 4 years ago and means a parent effectively cannot restrain a child with legal protection.
Mrs Harrold-Claesson highlighted a horrific case of the father of 7 children who was arrested for “gross disturbance of the peace”. The mother was not charged at all yet the 7 children were removed from the home and placed in foster homes. The father had to spend one month in custody, was completely acquitted, yet almost 3 years later, the parents are still fighting to get their children returned!
She said the ban on smacking is an excuse for taking children into care. The State Prosecutor even warned that they would see cases of children running to the Police and other people reporting that children are being smacked and these investigations would only be detrimental to the family. She said that if a report is made, the kids are invariably taken into care.
Mrs Harrold-Claesson is coming to NZ in July to testify before the NZ Select Committee and is being brought out by Coalition Section 59, a group of over 150 concerned Community and Lobby groups and families, including Family Integrity, Society for Promotion of Community Standards, Family First Lobby, Sensible Sentencing Trust, NZ Centre for Political Debate, PANIC, section59.org, and others.