Key signals protection for parents

Sunday Star Times 23/08/2009

Police and Child Youth and Family officials will be warned to not prosecute parents for lightly smacking their children. Prime Minister John Key told the Sunday Star-Times in Sydney yesterday he was planning to introduce “increased safeguards” to prevent parents who gave their children “minor” or “inconsequential” smacks from being either investigated or prosecuted. Key’s move is designed to appease the “Vote No” campaigners, who were yesterday celebrating an overwhelming win in the citizens-initiated referendum asking: “Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?”

..What I am wanting to ensure,” Key said, “is that parents have a level of comfort that the police and Child Youth and Family follow the intent of parliament, and that they can feel comfortable that in bringing up their children they are not going to be dragged before the courts for a minor or inconsequential smack.” Key said that although police had statutory independence from the government, cabinet had some options to direct them, which would be outlined tomorrow.

…Family First, which led the “Vote No” campaign, said the result was clear-cut and justified changing the law “so that good parents are not treated as breaking the law for light smacking”. It also wants the government to establish a Royal Commission into child abuse to identify and target the real causes. “The 87.6% of New Zealanders who voted no are not people who are demanding the right to assault and beat children,” says Bob McCoskrie, national director of Family First. “They are simply Kiwis who want to tackle the tougher issues of family breakdown, drug and alcohol abuse, mental illness, violence in our media, poverty and stress, and weak family ties.” McCoskrie also urged the Families Commission to represent the voice of families, not politicians, and call for the anti-smacking law to be amended.