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Council Makes ‘Gutsy’ Move On Section 59

Porirua City Council Congratulated For ‘Gutsy’ Move On Section 59

11 August 2006

The Public Health Association is congratulating the Porirua City Council for its support of the repeal of section 59 of the Crimes Act. Section 59 provides a statutory defense which can be used by parents if they are prosecuted for assaulting a child.

Director Dr Gay Keating said that by taking this stand, the City Council was showing its commitment to the physical and mental wellbeing of local children. A large number of child and family advocacy and support groups are also calling for the section to be repealed.

“This is a positive, gutsy move from Porirua. The removal of section 59 would help protect New Zealand’s children from physical abuse, and send a strong message that violence should not be part of a child’s upbringing. The Public Health Association challenges other local bodies to show their position on child abuse in the same way.”

Dr Keating said physical punishment was part of the ‘violence continuum’. “Not only is there a risk of children being injured by mistake or on purpose, but of becoming aggressive themselves, developing a poor relationship with their parents, and becoming violent parents. It is far better not to hit at all and the law should reflect this fact by not excusing any assault.

“Research and child development tells us that positive parenting techniques work best in helping children learn how to behave well as they grow up. Smacking and hitting are far less effective. So parents can find themselves hitting more often and harder when mild physical discipline no longer works.”

“There have been cases in which parents have been found not guilty of serious child assault charges by using section 59 as a defence.”

ENDS

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