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Text+Video: Child Discipline Law Gets Big Tick

Text+Video: Kiwi Child Discipline Law Gets Big Tick

New Zealand has been congratulated by leading international children's advocates for its ground-breaking new law banning physical punishment of children * and heralded as an example for other countries to follow.

The international commendations were heard this week at the launch of a new book which tells the story of New Zealand's journey towards the law change.

New Zealand became the first English speaking country in the world to ban physical punishment of children last June * and the first nation in the South East Asia and Pacific region to do so.

Unreasonable Force: New Zealand's journey towards banning the physical punishment of children tells the story of that journey * exploring the role of key players in the campaign, as well as how it was affected by religion, the media, public attitudes and above all, the rights of children.

Professor Yanghee Lee, the United Nations' new Chairperson of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, was among those congratulating New Zealanders.

"I applaud all politicians who supported the new law and thank you for your excellent leadership and example to other countries," Professor Lee says.

"New Zealand's pioneering tradition in advancing human rights is well known.

"I believe its influence on other countries in the region and throughout the world in bringing about the new legislation will be considerable."

Messages of support have been received from overseas.
(Click video to see Professor Yanghee Lee's message)

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Other messages included one from Global Initiative to End all Corporal Punishment of Children Co-ordinator Peter Newell, who described the law reform as a "tremendous breakthrough".

"In England, we just hope it won't be too long before we follow you. Our Labour Government has got as far as saying it "doesn't condone" physical punishment by parents, but it resists the long overdue step of removing the "reasonable punishment" defence completely," Mr Newell says.

"Many congratulations to Sue Bradford for her integrity and initiative, your Prime Minister for putting her government behind the reform and to all the politicians who in the end came together to see the reform through."

Former United Nations' expert on Ending Violence to Children Professor Paulo Pinheiro, described the reform as a "great step forward".

"It seems that this concept of "reasonable violence" has its roots particularly in English law, so it is particularly important to have achieved prohibition in an English-speaking country. Let's hope others follow quickly.

"My study for the UN Secretary General has raised expectations among the world's children. It is going to take leadership from brave politicians, like those who steered your reform through, and active advocacy from NGOs and children, to fulfil those expectations * and in particular to stop adults disguising violence as 'discipline'."

Since New Zealand's law reform, a number of other countries have also joined the fast growing list of nations banning the use of force for correction of children, the latest being Portugal, Spain, Uruguay, Chile and Venezuela. There are currently 23 nations on the list and another 22 have committed to doing so.

The book is written by long-term child advocate and EPOCH NZ co-founder Beth Wood, former Children's Commissioner Ian Hassall, freelance author George Hook with contributions from children's lawyer Robert Ludbrook. It was commissioned by Save The Children New Zealand.

- ENDS -

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