Family First NZ has released its annual list of the top family issues to be tackled, and heading the list for 2011 is the scrapping of the anti-smacking law.
“2011 is an election year and for the first time in three years, the politicians will be forced to listen to the views of NZ’ers. The government hoped that by ignoring parents, the smacking debate would disappear, but while good parents who are trying to raise law abiding productive members of society are criminalized for simply doing their job, the debate will not be going away – and nor will the level of opposition,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. “The political will of both National and Labour to ignore families on this issue has been breathtaking.”
“Independent polling of 1,000 people in 2008 and 2010 found that up to a 1/3’rd of respondents would be more likely to vote for a party that promised to change the law to allow light correctional smacking. National benefitted from that significant voter bloc at the last election. This election, other parties may not only promise a law change, but actually deliver on that promise.”
Also in the list is a call to establish a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the real causes of child abuse, parental notification laws to recognise and respect the role of parents, the establishment of an independent CYF Complaints Authority, and amending the prostitution law to protect communities and families from street prostitution and residential brothels.
“As has been evidenced over recent weeks, there is still huge work to be done on reducing our child abuse rates, but also making sure that CYF and other statutory agencies aren’t distracted from dealing with rotten parents and overstep their levels of intervention into good families.”
Other items on the list include tackling the sexualisation of children in the media, recognition and support for full-time parents and marriage, tougher policies on drugs and alcohol abuse – including raising the drinking age, and a statutory requirement on the BSA, ASA and Censorship Board to have as their paramount consideration the protection of children and families.
“There are a number of social issues which this government must tackle if they wish to be respected by parents trying to raise children in an increasingly difficult culture which undermines their efforts.” says Mr McCoskrie.
“An election year means they fail to listen at their peril.”
For More Information and Media Interviews, contact Family First:
Bob McCoskrie JP – National Director
Mob. 027 55 555 42
1. Scrap the anti-smacking law and provide legal certainty for parents
The Prime Minister has confused parents by saying that a light smack is completely ok and should not be treated as a criminal offence, yet only a few months earlier admitting that the effect of the law is that smacking is a criminal offence. John Key promised ‘comfort’ for parents, but it’s not comforting when he ignores almost 90% in a referendum, and retains a law which he admits is a ‘dog’s breakfast’, badly drafted, and extremely vague. He, along with most other MP’s, refuse to examine the increasing evidence that good families are being criminalised by the law.
2. Establish a Royal Commission of Inquiry into Child Abuse
We must take pro-active action and tackle head-on the difficult issues of family breakdown, drug and alcohol abuse, violence in our media, mental illness, low maternal age, and other key factors identified by the various UNICEF, CYF and Children’s Commissioner reports. Since the passing of the anti-smacking law, there has been a continual stream of child abuse cases and the rate of child abuse deaths has continued at the same rate as before the new law. Children will never be safe until we are honest enough as a country to identify and tackle the real causes of child abuse. An independent Inquiry free of political correctness and agendas would be an important first step
3. Parental notification
A parent is required to sign a note giving permission for a child to go on a school trip to the zoo but does not have to be notified or give consent if the same daughter wants to use contraception or have an abortion, and can actually be sneaked off for the procedure by Family Planning or the school nurse. Some young girls have been targeted for vaccines by family doctors without the knowledge of the parents. If parents are expected to support and raise their children to be law-abiding and positive members of our society, then these same parents should be kept informed and involved in the ongoing welfare of that child, and not undermined by laws which isolate children from their parents.
4. Establish an independent CYF Complaints Authority
Families who claim to have been unfairly treated by CYF social workers have no independent body to appeal to. This is grossly unfair when families are at risk, ignored, or are being ripped apart often just based on the subjective judgment of a social worker. An independent CYF Complaints Authority is also in the best interests of social workers as it will provide an independent body to ensure that appropriate policy and procedures have been followed. This will result in public confidence and accountability for actions and decisions by CYF workers. There is a Health and Disability Commissioner, a Police Complaints Authority, an Immigration and Protection Tribunal, even a Motor Vehicle Disputes Tribunal. We desperately need an independent body to hear complaints about the highly sensitive nature of intervening in families.
5. Amend the prostitution law to protect communities and families
The politicians gave local communities a ‘hospital pass’ when they changed the law and left the local councils the impossible job of balancing the requirements of the law with the huge concerns of families. They cannot now ignore the pleas from communities throughout NZ who are saying that the decriminalisation of prostitution has been a spectacular failure. The opposition to residential based brothels throughout the country and attempts by the Manukau City Council to tackle the problems of street prostitution, shows that communities are not accepting the liberalised laws.
6. Protect children from ‘corporate pedophilia’
The marketing of sexualised shirts by Cotton On Kids to be worn by babies, the provocative Little Losers line targeted at young teenagers by clothing store Jay Jays, sexually charged billboard advertising in public places, and graphic sexual music videos, dolls, and tween magazines and websites which encourage young people to look older and act older are examples of marketers crossing the line of what is acceptable and appropriate for our communities and for the protection of our children. A premature interest in a sexy appearance, an obsession about body image as a teenager, and an undermining of the social prohibition against seeing children as sexual objects and sexually attractive, are all huge warning flags that profits are currently more important than protecting the wellbeing of our children. A recent report by the American Psychological Association points to the dangers when sexualisation leads to girls viewing themselves as objects and having an unhealthy preoccupation with appearance. The pressure can lead to depression, eating disorders, and poor academic performance.
7. 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.
8. 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. The drinking age must be raised to protect our young people. 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.
9. Censor, BSA and ASA Required to Protect Families
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.
10. 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.