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Research shows s59 law having positive impact

1 November 2008

Research shows s59 law having positive impact - Greens

New research out today shows that few parents believe physical discipline is the most effective way of bringing up children.

"I welcome this first substantive research on the impacts of the s59 law change since my private member's bill went through last year," says Green Party Children's Issues Spokesperson Sue Bradford.

The Otago University Childrens Issues Centre study shows that despite vociferous campaigning by opponents of the s59 law change, even among the 41 percent of parents who said they smacked their children, only 9 percent thought it was effective.

"The research also indicates that some families are rethinking the way they view physical discipline of children as a result of the law change - and that fewer parents are resorting to physical punishment.

"This is exactly what I and other supporters of the s59 amendment have been saying for over a year now - that the controversy around this issue and the amendment itself have meant that many in the community have changed their approaches to child rearing - to methods that are both non-violent and more effective.

"What we are seeing are the welcome first steps towards a New Zealand in which very few people accept that whacking or hitting is an OK way to treat our babies and children."

Another key feature of the research findings is that many parents still don't understand what the s59 amendment actually means.

"This doesn't surprise me at all," Ms Bradford says.

"Given the massive campaign of misinformation about the implications of the bill that has surrounded both its passage through Parliament and the subsequent petition for a referendum, it is no wonder that so many people are confused.

"But it's not just the opponents of the s59 change who are to blame on this.

"I also fault the Government for not backing their support for the amendment with a substantial public education campaign on what the removal of the 'reasonable force for the purposes of correction' defence actually means in practice.

"In the next Parliament the Green Party will be advocating strongly for both a widespread public information campaign about the new law, and for increased support for groups who assist parents to learn non-violent methods of bringing up their children, and who support parents and families in other ways too."

ends

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