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Outdated child beating law set to go

9 June 2005

Outdated child beating law set to go

New Zealand is poised to outlaw the inhumane practice of allowing parents to beat their children after Green MP Sue Bradford's Crimes (Abolition of Force as a Justification for Child Discipline) Amendment Bill was today pulled from the ballot.

Ms Bradford's Bill seeks to repeal Section 59 of the Crimes Act allowing parents to use 'reasonable force' to physically punish their children.

"The debate around Section 59 has been heated, with supporters saying the law does not need to be repealed as the courts will decide whether parents have gone too far. But we have seen time and time again juries fail to convict parents who are charged with assaulting their children because Section 59 allows reasonable force to be used," Ms Bradford says.

"The current law has allowed parents to get away with beating their children with whips, canes and pieces of wood. On top of the physical violence inflicted, children and young people are left with considerable psychological damage as well.

"New Zealand has laws that protect adults from being assaulted by other adults and even laws that protect animals from being mistreated, but not children.

"I am pleased that New Zealanders will now have the opportunity to properly investigate and debate Section 59. I have campaigned hard to highlight this issue to ensure that this barbaric law is changed," Ms Bradford says.

"The Labour Party had shelved any plans to look at Section 59 till after the election, but now that my Bill has been pulled from the ballot the issue is back on the table."

"I will be calling on the Labour Party to support my Bill. I understand many Labour MPs, including Steve Maharey, support repealing the law. This is their chance to show New Zealanders that they do support the right of children to live their lives free of violence as we are obligated up to do through being a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child."

ENDS

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