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New way forward to protect children

Media Release: Chief reporters / welfare reporters

Monday 15 October 2001

New way forward to protect children

Barnardos has proposed a four-step approach to advance change of the law relating to physical punishment of children.

Chief executive Ian Calder will detail the proposal at today’s Barnardos Annual Forum: Beyond Section 59 – the way forward...

Section 59 of the Crimes Act provides a defence against assault charges for parents and caregivers, who can argue they used “reasonable force” to correct their children.

Barnardos has campaigned for the repeal of Section 59 to give children equal protection under the law as all other New Zealanders.

Barnardos now proposes that the Government:
1. Repeal Section 59.
2. Inform parents of the change during a 12-month grace period.
3. Develop a national charging policy for the Police with community involvement, to distinguish serious and trivial incidents.
4. Promote positive parenting techniques with greater priority and adequate funding.

“The law fails to safeguard children, yet they are more in need of society’s protection, not less,” says Ian Calder. “This approach provides for repeal of Section 59 while avoiding or eliminating concerns raised by those hesitant about repeal.”

“The challenge is now for those resisting change to justify why we should keep a law which affords children less protection than adults, or even animals,” says Ian Calder.

Barnardos hosts a national workshop later this year to discuss the proposal.

Beyond Section 59: the way forward 12.30-3.30pm, National Library Auditorium, 58-78 Molesworth Street, Wellington.

Hon Laila Harré and MPs Bob Simcock, Brian Donnelly and Stephen Franks will also debate Section 59 at the Forum.

For more, please contact acting media adviser Craig Dickson
04 385 7560 / 021 568 766 / craig.dickson@barnardos.org.nz

Barnardos proposal for Section 59 repeal

1 - A pragmatic plan is needed to support the repeal of Section 59

Barnardos wants Section 59 repealed.

To ensure repeal successfully protects children from assault by parents and caregivers, it needs to be backed by a pragmatic plan to support the change.

The plan needs to allow parents, police and the community to adjust to the change.

2 - Barnardos supports a four-part proposal for repeal of s 59

1 – Repeal s 59: remove the common law defence of reasonable force in correction of a child.

2 – A twelve month grace period before the law takes effect so parents can be advised on the change and positive parenting techniques promoted.

3 – A national charging policy for the Police developed with community involvement during the grace period, so trivial and serious incidents can be consistently distinguished.

4 – Active promotion of positive parenting techniques: with greater priority and adequate funding.

3 - A pragmatic plan would allay many fears about repeal

Some people worry that if Section 59 is repealed:
parents will be confused by a law change;
parents will be criminalised with convictions for smacking;
or parents will be unable to manage or train their children.

Barnardos believes the four steps proposed can allay these fears.

4 - We want New Zealand to debate this further

This proposal is being launched today.

We will be holding a national workshop later this year to discuss the proposal and determine how much support it might attract.


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