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Confusing messages about corporal punishment

Media information 12 October 2006

Confusing messages about corporal punishment

Beth Wood spokesperson for EPOCH New Zealand (End Physical Punishment of Children) says “Parents and public are understandably confused – on one hand we have an MP drafting potential legislation in 2006 that permits physical discipline and on the other we have the United Nations Secretary General’s study on violence against children recommending that all countries ban corporal punishment of children (including physical discipline in the home)”.

“The future of section 59 Crimes Act hangs in the balance. Full repeal of section 59 would be entirely congruent with the new UN Study’s recommendations, previous recommendations from the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, the New Zealand Action Plan for Human Rights, and positive parenting and family violence prevention initiatives promoted by the Government.

“If we were writing the Crimes Act from start in 2006 would we actually suggest in law that people can hit each other, however mildly, or whatever their age?”

“Much is made of the fear that parents could be prosecuted for minor smacking if section 59 is repealed but is this the real reason there is so much resistance to full repeal or is it that it is hard to put children’s best interests uppermost?

“The primary purpose of repeal is to signal in law the unacceptability of hitting children. Of course it would not be in children’s best interests if parents were prosecuted for minor assault rather than supported to learn new ways of discipline. Ample reassurance already exist. Police have discretion on what they prosecute and there are guidelines in place to help police decide what to prosecute.

Now is the time for leaders to promote children’s interests as a priority?”


ENDS

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