The Justice and Electoral Committee’s announcement that it is supporting the Bill designed to remove the statutory defence for parents who use force against their children for the purpose of correction, should cause parents to shiver in their boots.
“We have just heard about the right of a teenager to effectively ‘divorce’ their parent because they don’t like the family rules, a 12 year old being sneaked off to get contraceptives by their school, and now this Bill,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First. “Parents in NZ should be horrified by the way their authority and responsibilities are being undermined.”
The majority view of the Select Committee has ignored a number of key issues:
1. Child abuse is already illegal in New Zealand – Repealing s59 isn’t needed, because the law already says that child abusers have committed a crime. Since 1990, there have only been seven successful defences under s59 – that’s seven in 16 years!
2. If s59 is repealed, good parents will be treated as criminals under the law – The police have confirmed, and has been confirmed by two Queen’s Counsels that smacking a child would be assault. They will have to investigate any complaint made against a parent for smacking or even removal to ‘time out’. This will immediately place a family under enormous pressure. The police have to enforce the law, regardless of what politicians say.
3. Banning smacking will not stop child abuse – In 2003, a UNICEF report identified poverty, stress and family breakdown – along with drug and alcohol abuse – as the factors most closely and consistently associated with child abuse and neglect. Of the five countries with the lowest child abuse death rates in the UNICEF report, four allow smacking!
4. Reasonable smacking does not damage children or teach them to be violent – A recent Otago University study found that children who were smacked in a reasonable way had similar or slightly better outcomes in terms of aggression, substance abuse, adult convictions and school achievement than those who were not smacked at all.
“The Select Committee has chosen to ignore the 80% of NZ’ers who know the difference between a smack and child abuse, and want s59 retained,” says Mr McCoskrie. “The Politicians must support kiwi parents and reject repeal.”