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Lies From S. 59 Repeal Lobbyists

28 August 2006

Lies From S. 59 Repeal Lobbyists

The Society presented its oral submission this afternoon to the select committee studying Bradford’s ‘anti-smacking’ bill. It accused the bill’s supporters such as UNICEF, of disseminating blatant “lies” in the course of the debate. The material set out below, providing six examples of UNICEF lies, was presented as a late supplementary submission to the Society’s main submission which has been available on its website (www.spcs.org.nz) since early March 2006.

Lie No. 1: (The purpose of s59) is "Essentially, to exempt parents from retribution for assaults upon their children if they meet a standard of reasonableness."

No right minded person would ever believe that the MPs who composed the Crimes Act in 1961 had that in mind? Facts: Section 59 recognises and acknowledges that parents have a duty and responsibility to correct their children and that such correction and discipline can require a reasonable use of force that should not be criminalised. Section 59 says the use of force is justified as long as two limiting factors are in place: the motivation must be "by way of correction” and the force used must be “reasonable in the circumstances”.

Lie No. 2: "What is 'reasonable force'? It is whatever a judge or jury says it is."

This is really an implied lie: that "reasonable force" is something else, but UNICEF failed to reveal what they believe it is. Fact: In UNICEF's ideology, reasonable force is no force at all. To them, any use of force, however light is by definition violent abuse.

(See UN Committee on the Rights of the Child General Comment No. 8, June 2006 at ). UNICEF wants to impose its extremist ideas by stealth on to every judge, jury and parent in the land from this day forward.

Lie No. 3: "Section 59 has very little to do with smacking and much to do with providing legal shelter for people who assault children in painful, dangerous and humiliating ways.”

UNICEF again slurs the MPs of 1961 by accusing them of holding these repulsive motives. Fact: The MPs of 1961 were wiser than UNICEF for they understood that without Section 59, parents would commit criminal assault, according to the definition of assault in Section 2 of the Crimes Act, if they hug a child without the child's permission, take the child by the hand to make it go with the parents, confine the child to its room for time out and countless other everyday acts of parenting. Section 59 is all about parental authority: repeal Section 59 and parents will lose legal recognition of their authority to correct or train or discipline their own children. The authority will pass to the state or to "professional" agents...such as UNICEF. They want your children.

Lie No. 4: "This archaic law has been used in New Zealand to protect adults who've beaten children with planks of wood and riding crops."

Facts: the repeal lobby can only ever use three or four cases in all of NZ legal history, none of which help their case at all unless they twist or leave out the details. Neither child in these two cases was beaten:
they were smacked in a judicial and controlled manner. The plank of wood was 30x2cm, the size of a standard school ruler. The riding crop was applied with only two strokes, the child submitted voluntarily to the smacking, it restored family relationships and the school community could hardly believe the improvement in the boy's behaviour. Section 59 is used as a defense less than two times per year in New Zealand, and most of the time, rather than hiding abuse, the caregiver is found to be guilty. Section 59 operates exactly as it should: nailing true abuse and
protecting normal parents from charges of criminal assault for reasonable corrective action.

Lie No. 5: "The alarmist story that repeal of section 59 will 'criminalise' good parents has been shown by the sensible response of the police to have been the worst kind of scare-mongering."

Fact: the letter from Dr Jack of the Police Commissioner's office of 11 August 2005 (described by current Police Commissioner Howard Broad as "accurate and authoritative") declared simply that if Section 59 is repealed, "smacking of a child by way of corrective action would be an assault," and "parents would not be authorised to use reasonable force by way of correction." There you have it plain and simple: even Sue Bradford's "light smacks" are acts of assault and the use of reasonable force is unauthorised, outside the law, legally unjustified. Just as driving over 100 kph is a criminal activity, whether you are charged or not, so using any force, reasonable or not, will be a criminal activity. And being engaged in a criminal activity means you can be charged at any moment. Another letter from Joanna Bond, Legal Advisor to the Police Commissioner dated 11 July 2006, the one UNICEF is referring to as "the sensible response", included extracts from the Police Manual of Best Practice wherein the first line reads:

"The state has a duty to prosecute people who engage in criminal activity." The letter assumes throughout that parents using force have committed a criminal act of assault and describes the way they will be investigated and the ways they may or may not be prosecuted.

Lie No. 6: "There will be no increase in convictions of parents if repeal goes ahead."

Fact: since the threshold for charging parents with criminal assault drops to zero-tolerance, there will have to be a rather large increase in investigations, prosecutions and convictions. Unless the Police cease to enforce the law. Or unless the Police pass all such matters over to CYFs who have the power to remove your children first and ask questions later. Once CYFs gets involved, life as you knew it comes to an end. And the real child abuse begins the moment any strange social worker enters your home and takes your child away from you merely because she believes "there are reasonable grounds for suspecting that a child or young person is suffering, or is likely to suffer, ill-treatment, neglect, deprivation, abuse, or harm" (Section 39, Children, Young Persons and their Families Act 1989).

UNICEF and others resort to fabricating untruths because they are desperate to see Section 59 repealed. Why? Because it will destroy parental authority and allow these "child advocacy" groups greater and easier access to other people's children. It will ensure that parents are shoved into a back-seat position so that these groups gain more prominence, more counselling contracts and more clients.

[Source www.familyintegrity.org.nz]

Source of Quotes from UNICEF

UNICEF NZ Issues S59 Challenge To City Councils
Friday, 25 August 2006, 3:41 pm
Press Release: UNICEF


Yesterday (24.Aug. 2006) UNICEF New Zealand issued a challenge to every Mayor in New Zealand:
Lead the way and do what is right for New Zealand's parents and children. Support the repeal of Section 59 of the Crimes Act. David Kenkel, the UNICEF Advocacy Manager for New Zealand, said:

'We are delighted that some City Councils have already acted so strongly to support the parents and children of New Zealand. We congratulate Porirua Council and Waitakere Council on their farsighted community leadership.
We have also just heard the fantastic news that New Zealand's biggest council, Auckland City, have added their support by voting last night to support the repeal of Section 59. We have a great deal of respect for this council's solid commitment to the principles and practices of care for children, in line with New Zealand's obligations to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCROC). It is wonderful to see Councils being so committed to the wellbeing of their communities. We want to thank these Councils on behalf of New Zealand's children. Now we are waiting to see what action will be taken by the other Mayors and Councils of New Zealand'.


(The Email message that was sent out to New Zealand's Mayors and Council CE's follows as body of the Email)

SUBJECT LINE: UNICEF' challenge to community leaders This is an opportunity for local communities in New Zealand to lead the way. As you may know Porirua city council has already voted in support of the repeal of section 59 of the crimes act. Waitakere city council has issued a statement asserting their support for repeal.
Auckland city council is about to vote on the same issue.

Section 59 of the crimes act states:

'Every parent of a child and every person in the place of the parent of a child is justified in using force by way of correction towards the child if the force used is reasonable in the circumstances.' (S59 Crimes Act 1961)

What is the purpose of s59 of the Crimes Act 1961?

Essentially, to exempt parents from retribution for assaults upon their children if they meet a standard of reasonableness.

What is 'reasonable force'?

It is whatever a judge or jury says it is.

Section 59 has very little to with smacking and much to do with providing legal shelter for people who assault children in painful, dangerous and humiliating ways. This archaic law has been used in New Zealand to protect adults who've beaten children with planks of wood and riding crops. International and New Zealand research on children and discipline show that striking children does no good and can do much harm.

Hitting children is demonstrated to be the least effective form of discipline and the vast majority of parents who are honest and brave enough to talk about it admit that when they have hit their children it is more to do with frustration, desperation and anger than anything reasonable. New Zealand needs to be committed to its parents and recognise that parenting is one of the hardest jobs of all.

Being a good parent doesn't mean being perfect, but it should mean aiming to do what works rather than justifying and excusing what doesn't work. This law doesn't help New Zealand parents or New Zealand children. It sanctions what's worst rather than encouraging what's best. The alarmist story that repeal of section 59 will 'criminalise' good parents has been shown by the sensible response of the police to have been the worst kind of scare-mongering. There will be no increase in convictions of parents if repeal goes ahead.

What will change is that we as a nation will do a better job of facing up to what we need to do better. We at UNICEF New Zealand ask you as community leaders to do what's best for New Zealand's parents and children. Support repeal of Section 59 and send a clear message to parliament to do the same.


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