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Smith: Irony of care of children lost on Govt

14 September, 2004

Smith: Irony of care of children lost on Government

United Future justice spokesman Murray Smith today challenged the "irony" of legislation that puts huge accountability on parents for the welfare of their children on one hand, and then wilfully hides crucial information from them on the other.

In questioning Associate Justice Minister David Benson-Pope in Parliament today, Mr Smith asked if the Minister saw "the irony that parents of a 11-16-year-old girl are required to know whether she is fed, her whereabouts, that she is attending school, not drinking alcohol, not taking drugs and her progress at school, yet are excluded from information necessary to help them provide such care and support if she seeks an abortion or is sexually assaulted?"

Mr Smith cited the recent case of the 14-year-old Auckland girl raped and infected with a sexually transmitted disease, where the mother wasn't informed of her daughter's predicament despite still being accountable for the well being of her daughter in all other aspects of her life.

He also later pointed to the recent comments of Chief Families Commissioner, Dr Rajen Prasad, who said that families should only be shut out of their children's lives in exceptional circumstances.

"Law shouldn't be made by drawing a general rule from an exception, especially when those laws will limit parents' ability to communicate effectively with their children," Mr Smith said.

He said that the 1977 Royal Commission of Inquiry into Contraception, Sterilization and Abortion assumed that parents would have an opportunity to not only know of a girl's situation, but also participate in the child's counselling sessions.


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