Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search


Summary of Presentation on the Repeal of s59

A summary of my presentation to the Select Committee on the Repeal Section 59

Good intentions no excuse for bad law

I have been overwhelmed and encouraged by the debate surrounding the proposed bill to repeal Section 59 of the Crimes Act (the anti-smacking law)

The consensus is clear – as a nation we are disgusted and appalled by the frequency with which we read about another child being beaten until dead or half dead (most often by a mother’s boyfriend or step-parent). We want this to stop or dramatically decrease. The repeal Bill has been presented as a panacea to this problem.

Unfortunately these kinds of bills have been passed in other countries and the results are clear. They do not reduce or prevent serious child abuse or death – in fact a proportion of deaths occur because parents delay getting medical help because they fear having their child removed. Child abuse in Sweden (which has the most long-standing anti-smacking laws) actually rose following the introduction of their anti-smacking law. Most concerning however is 672% increase in youth on youth assault during the period from 1981-1994 which is massively higher than any comparable country without the anti-smacking laws. In effect where there are no consequences to bullying or hurting other children (such as the fear of physical consequences) why stop bullying. Sweden has a higher child abuse rate than the United States (references are Lyons & Larzelere, 1996).

More importantly Sweden has a fantastically high rate of child removal – over 4 times our current rate. Children taken into care are exposed to neglect and abuse and the disruption of their natural attachments to their parents which is essential for their emotional health. Typically because of foster care shortages they are placed in family homes along with other hard to place children including children who have sexually abused other children or have extreme violence or behaviour problems. The psychological damage to children who are removed is extreme and must be seriously contemplated as a cost of removal. Children who are damaged in their attachment capacities are more likely to be violent or sexually abusive – so what occurs is a perpetuation of a cycle of violence.

Sue Bradford has recognized the public’s concern about parents being prosecuted and has provided assurances that this would not happen however the police have clearly stated in a letter to Craig Smith the National Director of Family Integrity that if Section 59 was repealed then, “smacking of a child by way of a corrective action would be an assault…the Police in investigating such cases would consider the amount of force used … an aggravating factor in any such decision may be the fact that a child is generally more vulnerable than an adult.”

Clearly this says that the police would be bound to treat smacking for discipline as prima facie assault (as would be physically carrying a child to their room for – “time-out”. Time-out is illegal in Denmark which has a similar law to Sweden.

The fact is that children’s vulnerability to serious abuse is closely aligned to family breakdown. It has no or a negative correlation to appropriate physical discipline according to empirical peer-reviewed research. If we wish to make it clear that flogging a child or slapping them around the head is not appropriate then what is required is an amendment of section 59 to define reasonable force as proposed by United Future’s Murray Smith and Gordon Copeland. Good intentions are no excuse for bad law. Repealing Section 59 will actively harm New Zealand families and our children as such I cannot stand by and support it in the name of political correctness.


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines


Also, Loan Interest: Productivity Commission On Tertiary Education

Key recommendations include better quality control; making it easier for students to transfer between courses; abolishing University Entrance; enabling tertiary institutions to own and control their assets; making it easier for new providers to enter the system; and facilitating more and faster innovation by tertiary education providers... More>>


Higher Payments: Wellington Regional Council Becomes A Living Wage Employer

Councillor Sue Kedgley said she was delighted that the Wellington Regional Council unanimously adopted her motion to become a Living Wage employer, making it the first regional council in New Zealand to do so. More>>


Scoop Images:
Dame Patsy Reddy Sworn In As Governor-General

This morning Dame Patsy Reddy was sworn in as the New Zealand Realm’s 21st Governor-General. The ceremony began with a pōwhiri to welcome Dame Patsy and her husband Sir David Gascoigne to Parliament. More>>


Ruataniwha: DOC, Hawke's Bay Council Developer Take Supreme Court Appeal

The Department of Conservation and Hawke's Bay Regional Investment Company (HBRIC) are appealing to the Supreme Court over a conservation land swap which the Court of Appeal halted. More>>


With NZ's Marama Davidson: Women’s Flotilla Leaves Sicily – Heading For Gaza

Women representing 13 countries spanning five continents began their journey yesterday on Zaytouna-Oliva to the shores of Gaza, which has been under blockade since 2007. On board are a Nobel Peace Laureate, three parliamentarians, a decorated US diplomat, journalists, an Olympic athlete, and a physician. A list of the women with their background can be found here. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Key Style Of Crisis Management

At Monday’s post Cabinet press conference Key was in his finest wide- eyed “Problem? What problem?” mode. No, there wasn’t really a problem that top MPI officials had been at odds with each other over the meaning of the fisheries policy and how that policy should be pursued... More>>


Mt Roskill: Greens Will Not Stand In Likely Post-Goff By-Election

“The Green Party’s priority is changing the Government in 2017, and as part of that we’ve decided that we won’t stand a candidate in the probable Mt Roskill by-election... This decision shows the Memorandum of Understanding between Labour and the Green Party is working." More>>


Get More From Scoop



Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news