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Parents’ defence should go

30 May 2005

Parents’ defence should go

Parents should not be able to defend charges of assault against children by claiming they were using ‘reasonable force’ to correct a child, says the Chair of the New Zealand Law Society's Family Law Section, Simon Maude.

He was responding to the jury’s acquittal in Timaru of a mother charged with assault for giving her son six strokes with a cane and a separate charge arising from striking him with a horse whip. She was found not guilty because of the statutory defence in section 59 of the Crimes Act 1961, which allows parents to use reasonable force when disciplining children.

Simon Maude said the acquittal reinforces the Family Law Section's view that the statutory defence should be repealed.

“Modern understanding of the cyclical nature of domestic violence and the harm it does, demands that our law no longer condones parents using violence against children,” he said.

The Family Law Section has already written to the Government expressing its opposition to the law in its current form and has offered to help draft appropriate replacement legislation.


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