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Another attack on Keeping Kids Safe from Violence

19 March 2009

Another attack on Keeping our Children Safe from Violence

Yet another smokescreen has emerged to obscure the simple message that New Zealand children deserve to live free of violence.

The questions posed in Family First's latest poll reveal the bias of the questioners and their determination to turn back the clock on the 2007 Crimes Act law change.

"The real issue is about keeping our children safe from assault and this questionable poll is merely another attempt to confuse New Zealanders," said Green Party MP, and original promoter of the law changes, Sue Bradford.

Yesterday's poll is the latest of a number Family First have commissioned through the controversial Curia Market Research company.

Curia's principal is David Farrar, a right wing commentator well known for his 'Kiwiblog'.

Mr Farrar has been linked closely to the National Party. He worked in the Prime Minister's Office for Jenny Shipley and in the Leader of the Opposition's office under Jenny Shipley, Bill English and Don Brash.

Curia's own website provides informative commentary on its methodology: "Curia believes polling is an art, as well as a science..."

The Curia poll results also fly in the face of other - credible - research, Ms Bradford said.

For example, the NZ Health Survey 2006-7 showed only one in 22 parents considered physical punishment to be an effective form of discipline, and the independent UMR poll commissioned by the Office of the Children's Commissioner (released 13 November 2008) showed 43 percent of respondents supported the law change to strengthen child protection, 28 percent opposed it, and the rest were neutral, Ms Bradford said.

"More and more people are realising that children grow up healthier and happier without the daily threat of legalised physical violence in their lives. The fairness of the law change has finally afforded New Zealand children the same legal protection as adults."

In yesterday's Curia poll, as in others in the past, Family First asks questions in a way geared to elicit a particular response, Ms Bradford said.

"The finding that 83 percent of respondents want the law changed so that parents are explicitly allowed to smack their children saddens but does not surprise me.

"It is unquestionably true that a number of people still believe that a defence of 'reasonable force for the purposes of correction' should be available to those who hit, whack or smack their children.

"However, such responses fail to recognise the protection for parents that already exists in the amended law - three formal police reviews so far show that people are not being prosecuted for trivial or inconsequential assaults.

"Nor do some people seem to understand that one person's smack is another person's brutal assault, and that the ongoing acceptance of a parent's right to use physical discipline lies behind much of the daily battering of our children."

* NZ Health Survey 2006-7 punishment poll:$File/physical-punishment-ch2.pdf

* Office of Children's Commissioner press release:

* Otago Daily Times opinion piece article on Curia:


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