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Unreasonable force - a story worth telling

Unreasonable force - a story worth telling

February 2007

Barnardos New Zealandwelcomes the publication of an authoritative account on how New Zealandcame to change the law relating to the use of physical punishment of children. "Removing the legal right of parents charged with assaulting their children by claiming the force was 'reasonable' and for corrective purposes only, was a critical event in the social history of New Zealand," said Murray Edridge, Chief Executive of Barnardos.

"I congratulate the authors of Unreasonable force; New Zealand's journey towards banning of physical punishment of childrenfor having produced an excellent record. The book is important for a number of reasons:

"The public debate that so dominated 2007 raised critical questions about how we iview the role of the state and the law in influencing family life; the nature of parenting; and above all, how we see children." "But not only does Unreasonable Force record that public debate, it explores the role of the various participants in that debate - the protagonists on both sides, the media, and politicians. It also provides an excellent and concise record of the movement (which began decades earlier) to change section 59; explores public attitudes; and the role of religious dogma."

"The book will also be of interest to child advocates internationally as it explains the strategy and tactics used by those of us who advocated change and discusses the likely sources of resistance. This is a healthy reminder that New Zealandis not alone in having made this change. In fact, in the six months since we changed our law, five other countries have banned physical punishment of children."

"Once again New Zealandis providing some international leadership in key issues affecting our lives and society." "So as we face the possibility of a misguided referendum on the issue, I recommend that people read this book and be confident that the law has been improved in the best interest of children," concluded Murray Edridge.


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