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Govt Considers Information On Physical Punishment

Govt Considers Information On Physical Punishment Of Children

Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey, Justice Minister Phil Goff and Youth Affairs Minister Laila Harré today released officials advice on issues to do with the physical punishment of children.

The Government has investigated the legal framework adopted by other countries on the physical punishment of children. Officials are currently analysing the implications for New Zealand should Parliament decided to repeal or amend section 59 of the Crimes Act.

No decision has been taken to change the law on corporal punishment or to repeal or amend S.59. However a member's Bill in the name of Brian Donnelly has been entered into the ballot which, if drawn may be the subject of a conscience vote. It is important that members be aware of what options exist with respect to S.59 and the consequences of taking each of these options.

In October 2000 Cabinet asked officials to investigate overseas precedent as part of its plan to implement the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCROC). The UN has previously recommended that New Zealand review domestic legislation with regard to physical punishment of children within the family.

The Ministers said the issue was complex and contentious and required careful thought and debate before any change to the law was considered.

"A number of countries have moved to ban the use of physical punishment of children. Others are considering modifying existing legislation while others are making no change.

"Our existing law does provide children with some statutory protection against violence and abuse. However, other options to supplement or to replace the existing law should be fully explored so that the public and MPs are aware of the implications of alternative courses of action," the Ministers said.


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