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Criminalisation of Parents Confirmed


Criminalisation of Parents Confirmed

At last MP Sue Bradford has been forced to admit her real objectives of her bill to repeal of Section 59 of the Crimes Act. The Justice and Electoral Select Committee's report shows it was not to reduce violence but to hamstring parents.

The committee has re-written Section 59 so that it lists the occasions when reasonable force can be used by parents with their children. This categorising of legitimate uses of force was something Bradford consistently railed against as totally unacceptable. But she has helped delineate and describe four situations. Three of those have to do with preventing behaviour that might lead to harm, crime or is offensive or disruptive. The fourth simply allows parents to use reasonable force for "performing the normal daily tasks that are incidental to good care and parenting."

But the re-write specifically and pointedly prohibits reasonable force to be used if the motivation is to correct.

Parents are to be legally prohibited from correcting their own children! How revealing of Bradford's purposes! The original Section 59 only allows the use of reasonable force for one reason: correction. Bradford's new version of Section 59 only specifically prohibits the use of force for one reason: correction.

Correcting children with force of any kind, however light, is specifically prohibited. Yet part of parenting is teaching right and proper behaviour and speech, teach
ing manners and etiquette, teaching grooming and modesty, teaching right from wrong, good from bad, wise from unwise. Reasonable force can be used to stop some but not all bad behaviour the parents may want to stop.

But nothing in this law appears to allow parents to use force to get the child to behave in a way the parent may require or that culture, tradition or societal norms expects. This new Section 59 allows the use of reasonable force to stop some types of bad behaviour, but does not allow the use of force to enforce the performance or practise of any kind of good behaviour.

The standard of public behaviour will obviously sink to the lowest level generally acceptable, since parents will not be legally allowed to force children to maintain higher standards. Disobedience and disrespect will blossom. Those who feed on such dysfunction can see a bonanza on the horizon: it was as if this legislation had the future welfare of counsellors, psychologists, lawyers and the exploding numbers of child and family advocacy and interventionist groups in mind.

This Bill has become totally unworkable. It shows that the purpose has nothing at all to do with violence or excessive force against children, which things are already illegal. The purpose of this bill all along has been to repeal parental authority over their own children, to minimise and compromise a parent's ability to correct, train or discipline his or her child to act, dress or speak to any standard imposed by the parent. Correction of children is to be illegal. This is absurd. It is insane.

ENDS

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