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Support for Bradford bill

Media release from the Family Law Section, New Zealand Law Society

13 June 2005 For immediate release

Support for Bradford bill

The Family Law Section of the New Zealand Law Society is pleased to note that Green Party MP Sue Bradford's Member’s Bill has been introduced to the House. The purpose of the Crimes (Abolition of Force as a Justification for Child Discipline) Amendment Bill is to amend the Crimes Act to abolish the defence of reasonable force by parents when disciplining their children, as permitted by section 59 of the Crimes Act 1961.

Chair of the Family Law Section Simon Maude says the Section's concern is that the 'reasonable force' defence in section 59 is vague and does not provide for consistency in the court process when decisions have to be made about whether a child has been assaulted.

Mr Maude referred to two recent cases, one in New Plymouth and one in Timaru, where the parent in each case physically disciplined the child with such force that it left bruising. In one case the defendant was found guilty yet the other parent was acquitted.

“In a society where domestic violence is a matter of significant concern and where some parents have difficulty discerning the difference between punishment and abuse, children need the full protection of the law.

“The Family Law Section's supports repeal of section 59 and it has offered its assistance to the Government in the drafting of amending legislation that clarifies and defines what form of correction of children by parents is legitimate in the eyes of the law,” Mr Maude said.

ENDS

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