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First National Seminar On Issue Of Smacking

20 May 2004

Otago Hosts First National Seminar On Issue Of Smacking

(Will present latest international research on controversial physical punishment of children)

The physical punishment of children is the focus of a seminar to be hosted by the University of Otago’s Children’s Issues Centre in Wellington next month.

The national seminar ‘Stop it, it hurts me’: Research and Perspectives on Physical Punishment of Children, on 18 and 19 June, will provide an “informed base for debate on an important parenting issue which has fundamental implications for children’s well-being” says Centre Director, Professor Anne Smith.

“The topic is timely and relevant, particularly in light of the Government’s recent announcement that it would delay reviewing Section 59 of the Crimes Act, which allows parents to use reasonable force as a defence against charges of assault on children. The Children’s Issues Centre wanted to provide a forum where people could look at the research findings on this issue and examine the issue from a range of disciplinary perspectives.”

One of four keynote speakers, Professor Smith will present her findings from a major international literature review on disciplinary practices, commissioned by the Office of the Children’s Commissioner.

Other speakers include Associate Professor Joan Durrant, a developmental psychologist from the University of Manitoba, who has carried out comparative research on parental use of punishment in Sweden and Canada, Commissioner for Children Dr Cindy Kiro who will talk on children’s rights and physical punishment in New Zealand, and Pacific community leader and former broadcaster Tino Pereira who will speak about a Pacific perspective on physical punishment.

A panel, including Social Development Minister Hon Steve Maharey, will lead an audience discussion following the keynote talks, and two series of six workshops will be held each afternoon on a range of topics led by social work practitioners, researchers and academics who are working in the field of children’s rights.

The seminar is expected to attract a wide-ranging audience, including health professionals, social workers, psychologists, family support and early intervention workers as well as other people with an interest in or concern about the issue.

“This is an opportunity to participate in the debate and move policy and practice forward collaboratively, based on up-to-date research findings”, says Professor Smith.

The event is the ninth national seminar hosted by the Children’s Issues Centre, held two-yearly to address national issues which affect the well being and development of children.

(A summary of the Children’s Issues Centre research findings will be distributed to media at the beginning of June, embargoed for release until 18 June.)


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