Family advocate wants rethink

NZ Herald December 17, 2007
A proposal that would allow claims of psychological abuse to be treated in the same way as violence claims in family breakdowns could be used as a weapon against parents, a family advocate says. The proposal was contained in a Ministry of Justice discussion paper released last week. It suggests broadening the Care of Children Act to recognise psychological abuse as another form of violence. Any law change would mean parents would be banned from seeing their children while such claims were being investigated – a process that can take months. Family First national director Bob McCoskrie said psychological abuse was subjective and difficult to define, opening up the possibility it could be misused. “It could be used as a weapon to penalise [a parent],” Mr McCoskrie said. “What’s concerning is these situations are always no-win situations for both parties. The family is already under so much pressure and in response we throw another factor in the mix to sort out who’s wrong. He likened such moves as being the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff, which could be avoided by strengthening families before they got to the point where intervention was needed. “It’s bottom-of-the-cliff type stuff.” Family First wanted to see more parenting courses and to get the “fundamental” things right before having to try to define psychological abuse. “At the end of the day we have to act responsibly as adults. It’s the children who are victims in this.”

New rules could instantly bar parents from kids
Sunday Star Times December 16 2007