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Sensible compromise on smacking ban rejected

20 November 2006

Sensible compromise on smacking ban rejected

National Party MP Chester Borrows says Labour and the Greens know they are lining up responsible parents for criminal convictions with the tabling of the Crimes (Abolition of Force as a Justification for Child Discipline) Amendment Bill.

"The Labour and Greens members on the select committee ganged up to reject my compromise amendment to the anti-smacking bill, a compromise that was checked by the Law Commission.

"Parents have a right to know they live within the law. This bill removes that protection and does not act in the best interests of children.

"I am proposing an amendment that will filter serious incidents so parents who should be charged cannot hide behind Section 59. At the same time it will allow parents who lightly smack their children occasionally to be protected from prosecution.

"The commonsense amendments will ensure Section 59 can be cited only as a defence on the three most minor assault provisions; will ban the use of cruel and degrading applications of force; and will not allow any harm which is more than transitory and trifling."

Mr Borrows says the Labour majority on the committee has stonewalled efforts to reach a sensible compromise.

"It has been disappointing to see the blinkered approach of those backing a smacking ban. For them it appears to be all or nothing, with nothing in between."

National Party select committee member Nicky Wagner agreed.

"I believe there are better ways of dealing with issues than smacking. Parents need lots of different parenting strategies but I don't think they should be criminalised for the occasional light smack. "No one wants kids to be abused - we must have heard that from nearly every submitter to select committee - but there is a huge difference between child abuse and the disciplining of children with the odd smack."


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