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Parents Centres call for repeal of section 59


27 JULY 2005 - 2:00 pm

Parents Centres call for repeal of section 59 of the Crimes Act

With the announcement of the election date this week the country is gearing up to expect many changes over the coming few months. New ministerial line ups, possible changes in our government, and new policies are being introduced almost daily it seems.
One thing that we don’t expect to change quickly is the sad and tragic abuse committed in this country in the name of discipline. Children are amongst those most vulnerable in society and we see many examples of how society abuses them.

Parents Centres Chief Executive Viv Gurrey says “Now is the time to stop accepting excuses for violence and to take action” She adds “Much has been emoted, much has been debated but now is the time to support the ethos that to verbally and physically abuse children is unacceptable and should not be tolerated by our society under any circumstance or under any name. Few would disagree, so why do we persist in allowing Section 59 of the Crimes Act to provide valuable defence for those who seriously injure and abuse their children? “

“Parents Centres are strongly committed in our support of the Repeal of Section 59 of the Crimes Act”, Gurrey says. “With Sue Bradford’s Crimes Amendment Bill (Abolition of Force as a Justification for Child Discipline) recently having been drawn from ballot, and receiving first hearing in parliament tonight, this is very much front of mind and once again brings this debate to the fore”

Section 59 provides a potential legal defence when charges may be brought against caregivers and parents for assaulting their child.
There are those who would have us believe this is about making New Zealand’s parents criminals for disciplining their children. This is absolutely not the case and research clearly indicates that discipline and boundaries are essential components of parenting so we may bring up healthy well rounded contributors to society.

What this bill will do is remove an opportunity for defence when a parent or caregiver seriously assaults a child in their care. Gurrey says “It will in part help to take away one of many excuses used when violence is exhibited to a child!”

The repeal of this Bill serves to remove the defence for the abuse of children.

Not to offer a solution to discipline issues would essentially be negligent. How do parents manage the errant youngster?
It is not possible to legislate for behaviour. Education and support are part of the answer.

Gurrey says “Positive messages and practical parenting strategies for disciplining children are essential.
We must support New Zealand’s parents so they have the confidence to use effective, positive and practical strategies consistently, as they raise our next generation to be confident and fulfilled adults. To role model how they may be parents themselves….. and to break this cycle of abuse”

“Parents Centres NZ Inc. strongly encourages government to support this bill through select committee and to stand firm in our united resolve that violence is never an acceptable or effective solution.”

About Parents Centres NZ Inc: Parents Centres is not-for-profit organisation providing parenting support and education across New Zealand. With 52 Centres, over 2500 volunteers and in excess of a rolling membership of 8000 members, we are a strong and active organisation, committed to New Zealand’s parents. With a long history of lobbying and advocating on behalf of New Zealand’s parents and families, we are proud to be New Zealand’s leading parenting education movement.


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