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Report on NZ children makes s59 repeal a priority

15 February 2007

UN Report on NZ children makes s59 repeal a priority

" The Unicef Innocenti report card released last night is an international indictment of the way New Zealanders view and treat children and young people, and should build support for the repeal of section 59 of the Crimes Act," Green Party MP Sue Bradford says.

Ms Bradford was commenting on the damning figures released in the 'Overview of Child Well-being in Rich Countries' published by the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef)-Innocenti Research Centre.

"My experience over the last two years of campaigning for the repeal of s59 of the Crimes Act has revealed to me personally that too many New Zealanders see children as being their property.

"Some New Zealanders still see the removal of the defence of 'reasonable force' in punishing children as being an attack on parents' rights, rather than being a necessary step in a complex process of weaning our society away from a culture of violence and abuse of our children.

"I call on all MPs to read the Innocenti report before they vote on my bill to repeal s59 which comes up for its critical second reading in Parliament next Wednesday, 21 February.

"Public health and childrens' advocates agree that this report is a damning indictment of the way we view children as second class citizens not deserving of the same rights and protections as adults.

"As long as we have a law which allows adults to legally use violence against children, New Zealand cannot hold its head high in the community of nations.

The Green Party calls for a political and social culture which values and nurtures children rather than one that sees them as unimportant, and merely the property of their parents.

The report also discusses the experiences of children who live in poverty within developed countries including New Zealand.

"Even Working for Families still discriminates against the children of beneficiaries. Minimum wages are still below what it takes to sustain a family's health and wellbeing, and the benefit system remains an inequitable and inadequate shambles for all too many families trying to survive within it.

It is crucial that New Zealand Governments - and citizens - take greater responsibility for the health and welfare of our children. This report is a call to action which none of us can ignore."

ENDS

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