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EPOCH New Zealand calls for focused debate

EPOCH New Zealand calls for focused debate

Media release 20 July 2006

EPOCH New Zealand today called for a more focused debate about the repeal of S.59 of the Crimes Act 1961.

"Section 59 allows a parent who is charged in court with assaulting their child to claim a defence of using 'reasonable force' by way of correction", said Janet Dixon of EPOCH. "Not many people call on this defence but having it on our law books gives a message that using physical punishment with children is OK".

"Currently, Sue Bradford's Bill to repeal s. 59 is being hijacked by other emotive issues, not directly linked to the bill. For example, the debate has been muddied by alarmist messages that parents will be criminalized for touching their children, that the 'nanny state' is interfering in family life and that parents will have no right to discipline their children. These messages are all wrong and do not address the basic issues", said Janet Dixon.

"We are concerned that the arrival of Ruby Harrold-Claesson will distract public attention from the real issues. Ms Harrold-Claesson has been brought to New Zealand by a group of people who promote physical punishment, Coalition 59". We have seen evidence that contradicts what she has been saying and we urge people to be wary of taking her 'evidence' at face value"

"We trust that New Zealanders will be curious about this 'overseas expert' and the research she quotes. Is what she says true? Can the cases she cites be verified?

"This Bill is about ensuring children have the same legal protections as men, women and animals."

EPOCH New Zealand (End Physical Punishment of Children) is a Charitable Trust set up in 1997 to promote positive non-violent parenting and legal reform to support this.


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