Children fear parents will be jailed if smacks reported

NZ Herald Feb 21, 2009

Pro-smacking lobby groups such as Family First are being blamed for confusing children about whether it is all right to tell if they are victims of family violence. Dr Peter O’Connor, who runs a theatre group that has presented a play to schoolchildren about family violence for five years, says he has noticed a marked change in the responses of youngsters since the outcry over the so-called anti-smacking law. Two to three years ago children always responded to the play by saying you should tell if mum or dad was hitting you – but now they say you shouldn’t tell because they will go to prison. Dr O’Connor is concerned that with the upcoming referendums on the repeal of Section 59 of the Crimes Act, set down for July 31 to August 21, the debate by adults will further confuse children.

..Family First has a website with numerous cases of parents it claims have been wrongly persecuted since the law change. Its director, Bob McCroskrie, said yesterday he was concerned to hear children were backing off from revealing abuse but said that since the law change everyone had been confused about what constituted child abuse.