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Commission Needs to Get 'Respect' Message to MPs

MEDIA RELEASE

7 February 2008

Families Commission Needs to Get 'Respect' Message to MPs

Family First NZ is welcoming a call by the Families Commission for NZ'ers to do more to show they support and value parents.

"But ultimately, this needs to come from the top-down," says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. "Parents are currently, and understandably, feeling undervalued, under-resourced and under suspicion."

"For too long, laws have been passed and policies pushed that have undermined the role of parents. These have been advocated by the Children's Commissioner, NZ's blind adherence to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and politicians. Unfortunately, the Families Commission has, to this point, failed to represent the voice of parents, evidenced by their support of the anti-smacking bill."

Recent examples of undermining the role of parents include:

* a teenager who attempted to use the Care of Children Act to 'divorce' her parent because she didn't like the family rules

* the Privacy Act being quoted by the Police as justification for hiding the whereabouts of a 16 year old runaway daughter from her concerned parents

* CYF and Police failing to prosecute a 21 year old who admitted having sex with a girl under the age of 12

* the anti-smacking law which sent a clear message to parents that the State and its agencies know better how to raise children even if parents are reasonably and responsibly correcting their children.

* continued lack of an independent CYF Complaints Authority despite repeated calls for one and an increasing number of families being adversely impacted by the actions and decisions of social workers (acknowledged by a recently released book by senior social workers) without an avenue of appeal for the parents

* children as young as five have been told off for bringing yoghurt, muesli bars, salad rolls and juice to school as over-zealous teachers try to enforce healthy eating rules - despite parents pleading to be allowed to give their children the occasional treat

* parents concerned about the graphic nature of information regarding the meningococcal B campaign provided to children at school, mostly without consent (study published in the New Zealand Medical Journal)

* proposal by the Children's Commissioner to screen every child's home, threatening to refer good parents who resist this intrusion, to social welfare agencies, while failing to target the real abusers and provide the necessary services for young and new parents

* young girls (some well under the age of sexual consent) being sneaked off by schools to get contraceptives or an abortion without any parental knowledge or consent yet these same kids have to get parental permission to go on a school trip to the zoo

"If the government wants parents to be responsible parents, they must firstly respect their role."

Family First hopes that the Families Commission will take their message of supporting and valuing parents to the law and policy makers.

ENDS


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