Family First NZ has released its annual list of the top 5 family issues and heading the list for 2009 is the amending of the anti-smacking law.
“This confusing law change, which even the proponents struggle not to contradict each other on the effect of, is leading to good families being reported, investigated, referred to CYF’s and even prosecuted,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
“CYF notifications have increased 30% in the past year yet the number of cases requiring further action has actually decreased. We are missing actual child abuse and the child abuse rate continues unabated.”
“NZ’ers want policies and laws that will actually target and catch child abusers. We don’t need a Referendum to tell us what NZ’ers have already said. The National government must amend the law so that non-abusive smacking by a parent is not a crime as it currently is. Our resources and energy should be more effectively targeted.”
Also included in the top 5 list is the financial recognition of full-time parents of young children and debate on the potential harm of long term childcare, policies on drug and alcohol harm, more family friendly censorship, and strengthening the role of marriage, fathers, and families.
“It is time that we put the ambulance at the top of the cliff and proactively supported and protected families and strengthened marriages rather than our current reactionary approach which has failed to acknowledge the harms of drugs, alcohol, violence and sexual content in our media and the weakening of the family structure,” says Mr McCoskrie.
1. Amendment of the anti-smacking law – non-political Commission of Enquiry into the real causes of child abuse and solutions
Every child abuse involves a combination of similar factors – drug and alcohol abuse, family breakdown, low maternal age, long term welfare dependency, poverty and stress, and weak family ties. Resources must be targeted at these factors and better support for parents and families made available. The “It’s Not OK” campaign also needs to apply to child abuse against the unborn child.
2. Recognition and Financial Support for Full-Time Parents
The Government continues to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into the Childcare and Pre-school Industry yet refuses to acknowledge the huge numbers of parents who sacrifice income and career to raise their children full-time. These parents should be acknowledged, resourced, and encouraged – not told to become economic units by getting back into the workforce after 14 weeks. There is also the need for further debate on the welfare of children who are being exposed to long periods of childcare at a very young age.
3. Tougher Policies on Drugs and Alcohol Abuse
The drinking culture has been fed by the proliferation of retailers pushing the sale of alcohol (and therefore more available to teenagers as well), the extensive advertising afforded by the alcohol industry, and the poor role modeling by sports and media personalities. Much tougher laws on liquor licensing are urgently needed, along with major restrictions on alcohol advertising.
A clear message also needs to be sent from Parliament regarding drugs including marijuana. Sufficient resources must urgently be made available to eliminate the ‘P’ industry which is destroying lives and families.
4. Change the Censor, BSA and ASA – Toughen the Censorship Laws
We have allowed an increasing and unacceptable level of violence and sexual content into our media in the name of free speech.
There has been a continual flow of brutal rape and sexually violent films and video games all at a time in which domestic violence, demand for Women’s Refuges, and violent and sexual crime is on the increase. Criminal activities such as rape, sexual violation of corpses, murdering cops, and degrading and dehumanising treatment of women have been reduced to supposed ‘entertainment’ by these films.
We cannot continue to ‘feed’ this material into our community without seeing it manifested at some level. We need censorship which will act in the best interests of all NZ’ers and families.
5. Strengthen marriages, families, and the role of fathers
Scientific research is unanimous on a number of conclusions regarding marriage – that marriage increases the likelihood that fathers have good relationships with their children and lowers the risk of alcohol and substance abuse, domestic violence and child abuse.
Conversely, parental divorce or non-marriage appears to increase children’s risk of school failure, the risk of suicide, psychological distress, and most significantly, delinquent and criminal behaviour.
So many young offenders are coming from families where there is family breakdown, the absence of a father and parenting difficulties, not to mention violence and unemployment issues.
Too many children are growing up in NZ without their dad actively involved, with little expectation from the State for this to change, and no presumption in family law of equal parenting in the event of family breakdown.
We need to encourage and strengthen marriage, including pre-marriage counselling and Marriage Centres used successfully in Australia. We need to hold fathers accountable to their responsibilities, both financially and in terms of encouraging involvement in raising their children.