Manawatu Standard 04 November 2008
If the National Party wins power, it will check whether or not controversial legislation removing the right of parents to use “reasonable force” to discipline their children has resulted in needless prosecutions and persecution of parents. “There is anecdotal evidence of people being persecuted for a light smack on the bottom or hand, but we would need to check that out,” National MP Judith Collins said. We haven’t seen any real evidence that there has been abuse of the law or that police needlessly prosecute people.” Child Youth and Family could also expect to be scrutinised. National would have a better idea after reviewing police files, the Clevedon National MP said.
..Mrs Collins was a vocal critic of a bill brought by Green MP Sue Bradford removing “force that is reasonable in the circumstances” as a defence for assault on a child. The bill became law last year, following a compromise between Labour and National, but it has continued to be labelled “anti- smacking” by opponents. A citizens-initiated referendum on smacking is to be held next year after Prime Minister Helen Clark decided not to have the referendum at the same time as the election. National would “listen” to the referendum and “deal with concerns raised”,” Mrs Collins said. She stopped short of committing to changing the law, however. The compromise law was better than the original version, but many parents were upset about being lumped with child abusers, she said. “People like me were accused of being child abusers and 80-odd per cent of parents were accused of being child abusers.”