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Children’s orgs urge politicians to repeal s59

Media Release EMBARGOED until 24 October 2006

21 October 2006

Open letter to Prime Minister and other parliamentary leaders


Children’s organisations urge politicians to repeal section 59 Crimes Act


Over 60 child and family related organisations throughout New Zealand have joined forces to write to the Prime Minister and other Parliamentary leaders asking them to support full repeal of section 59 Crimes Act 1961. A copy of their open letter is attached.

“Critical decisions are about to be made – let’s get it right for the children now,” said Beth Wood, spokesperson for EPOCH New Zealand.

The Select Committee making recommendations on Sue Bradford’s Repeal Bill reports to Parliament very soon and a decision on the future of section 59 may be made before the end of the year.

“In debating this bill in the next few weeks, politicians need to listen carefully to this large body of informed opinion. These organisations work with children and families and they work in the area of family violence. They know what they are talking about and they are unanimous in their view: repeal of section 59 would remove the ambiguous message the law currently gives parents,” Beth continued.

The organisations urge politicians to repeal section 59 outright without any amendments to define reasonable or unreasonable force.

The letter stresses that the purpose of law change is education not prosecution.

Beth says “We have always been clear that the aim of repeal is to encourage and support the use of positive parenting and not prosecution of parents. Prosecution should be a last resort limited to those cases where Police and social work interventions will not protect children from serious harm”.

“With Sue Bradford’s Bill Parliamentarians have a unique and critical opportunity to get it right for our children – half measures won’t do it”.

--

EPOCH New Zealand, PO Box 11996, Manners Street, Wellington
Phone 027 4437370 email bethwood@xtra.co.nz www.epochnz.org.nz

OPEN LETTER

TO

RT HON HELEN CLARK

AND

LEADERS OF ALL POLITICAL PARTIES

IN PARLIAMENT.

Physical punishment harms children – it’s time to remove this archaic law. Repeal section 59 Crimes Act 1961.


18 October 2006


Dear Prime Minister and Parliamentary Leaders

New Zealand parents want their children to grow up with positive memories of childhood. Each year many children in New Zealand are subjected to experiences of violence perpetrated in the name of discipline and excused in law.

This is not a positive memory for them. Physical discipline does not show children how to behave well.

Physical punishment is not a part of positive parenting and carries many risks for most children – including child abuse. Yet our law justifies the use of force as a means of correcting children.

Please support the outright repeal of section 59 (without amendment to define any degree of force as reasonable or unreasonable).

This would send out a consistent message of non-violence that is in line with modern child rearing practices and family violence prevention initiatives. It would treat children as equals with adults in court and show respect for children’s human status.

The purpose of law change is education not prosecution.

The agencies listed in this letter call on you to:

- Fully repeal section 59 Crimes Act 1961

- Encourage practice that ensures that prosecutions of parents only proceed when other interventions to support families have failed to adequately protect the child from harm.

- Expand and maintain education campaigns on positive discipline.

Yours sincerely

Beth Wood
On behalf of the listed organisations.

cc All Members of Parliament


--

Action for Children and Youth Aotearoa
Ahu Whakatika Challenge Violence Trust
Alternatives to Violence Project (Waikato) Inc
Barnardos New Zealand
Brainwave Trust
Catholic Social Services (Wellington)
CCS
Child Abuse Prevention Services Northland
Child Development Foundation
Cholmondely Children’s Home
Christchurch Methodist Mission
Christchurch Resettlement Services
Council of Social Services n Christchurch
EPOCH New Zealand
Every Child Counts
Hauraki Safety Network
Home and Family Society Christchurch
Housing Advice Centre (Palmerston North)
Horowhenua FV Intervention Programme
Humanists for Non-Violence
IHC
Inner City Group for Men
Institute for Public Policy at AUT
Jigsaw
Living Without Violence Waiheke
Linton Camp Community Services
Manawatu Alternatives to Violence
National Council for Young Catholics
National Council of Women New Zealand
National Network of Stopping Violence Services
Natural Parenting New Zealand
North Harbour Living Without Violence
Pacific Foundation
Paediatric Society Of New Zealand
ParentingWorks
Parents Centres New Zealand
Parentline Charitable Trust
Parentline Manawatu
Peace Foundation
Peace Movement Aotearoa
PORSE In-Home Childcare Network
Presbyterian Support Services National
Relationship Services
Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)
Royal New Zealand Plunket Society
Save the Children New Zealand
Start Inc Christchurch
Stopping Violence Services Nelson
Supportline Women’s Refuge
Te Korowai Aroha O Ngati Whatua
NZAAHD
NZ Child Care Association
NZ Family Planning Association
NZ Psychological Society
Playcentre Federation
Rodney Stopping Violence Services
Taranaki Support Services
The Body Shop
Violence Free Waitakere
Wairarapa Community Counseling Centre
Waitakere Abuse and Trauma Counselling Service
Wellington Community Law Centre
Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom
Women’s Refuge
UNICEF New Zealand
Youth Law Tino Rangatiratanga Tai Tamariki


ENDS

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