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Massive Opposition to Repeal of Section 59


Massive Opposition to Repeal of Section 59

Should Smacking Children Be Outlawed in New Zealand? A Stuff Opinion Poll Result carried out on 16 February reveals that an overwhelming number of those who responded to the on-line poll opposed any moves to ban smacking (5,322 respondents; 83.8%). Only 800 (12.6%) responded in the affirmative and 3.6% (228) were “unsure”.

This result cannot be claimed to be statistically accurate but the result supports findings obtained from other studies that have sampled public opinion using more rigorous methods. For example, a recent study reported on in today’s Dominion Post shows that 82% of parents say it is okay to smack children.

“Results from a telephone survey of 800 parents presented at yesterday’s conference on child abuse in Wellington by former children’s commissioner Ian Hassell showed 82 per cent believed it was okay to smack. The results are a sting for advocates of repealing Section 59 of the Crimes Act, which gives parents the right to use “reasonable” force when disciplining their child.”

Of those who support smacking, Dr Hassell reported that 60 per cent of parents did not support repeal of section 59.

A long running TV One opinion poll on the same subject reveals massive support for parents retaining the right in law to use “reasonable force to discipline their children”. The poll has been running continuously since 28 July 2005, the day Sue Bradford’s anti-smacking private member’s bill passed its first hurdle and was referred to the Justice and Electoral Committee. The figures show that 93% of respondents support the rights of parents to use reasonable force such as smacking. Only 7% are opposed.

The Society president, Mike Pretrus, says: “The Society has consistently opposed all moves by the ‘anti-smacking brigade’ to repeal section 59 of the Crimes Act 1961. It has sought to expose the clear agenda of this group to strip all parents of their only protection and justification in law (s. 59) to the proper use of “reasonable force” such as smacking, as one of many options they can legitimately use in the corrective and loving discipline of children. It repudiates the flawed and erroneous reasoning advanced by many supporters of the repeal”. These include:

(1) ALL forms of smacking constitute “violence” against children.

(2) Such “violence” must be treated in law in ALL cases in the same way as “common assault” against an adult by an adult, because a child has the same rights to protection from “violence” and “assault” as an adult.

(3) The parent-child relationship is equivalent, and must be treated in law as equivalent, to any adult-adult relationship when it comes to laying a conviction for “assault” against one member of either pair. For example, a “benign” smack administered to a child by its parent or the person in the place of the parent, for the purpose of corrective discipline, should be treated in law in the same way as any common assault by an adult on any other adult, is to be treated.

(4) Parents must be treated in law as having no more rights when it comes to administering corrective discipline to their own children, than paid caregivers (such as after school supervisors) who are often not even known personally by the parents, let alone their children.

The Society’s reasons for the rejection of these spurious assumptions are dealt with in articles available on its website www.spcs.org.nz


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