Smack admission bars grandparents

NZ Herald 19 June 2012
Grandparents described as “the perfect family” have been banned from taking in their baby grand-daughter because they believe in smacking. Brian and Hannah Johnson, of Tauranga, have two adult children of their own, have been Child, Youth and Family caregivers for a niece for 13 years, and have brought up an 8-year-old grandson since he was a baby. But CYF has refused to let them take in their grandson’s 21-month-old half-sister because they told CYF they smacked their grandson occasionally as “a last resort”. Mrs Johnson, 57, said a CYF social worker told her last week: “We were the perfect family, perfect grandparents, if it wasn’t for that little thing and that was smacking. “I feel like our name has been tainted now,” Mrs Johnson said. “I went out of my way, I worked for them for this long time unpaid, I have done it out of the kindness of my heart to be of service to them, I have been up to the CYF office so many times it’s not funny. I don’t feel like I’ve been fairly treated.”

She sought help from Ngai Te Rangi social services, the Maori Party, the Social Development Ministry, Social Development Minister Paula Bennett and finally the Family First lobby group. Family First director Bob McCoskrie said the Johnsons’ experience, and six other new cases he has documented, showed “good families” were being penalised by the 2007 law change that banned parents from using force against children for “correction”. “Not only are police resources being wasted on investigating ‘smacking’ allegations, but CYF is ignoring the intent of the law and is removing children from good homes where the parents may use a smack,” he said.

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