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Commissioner says petition is misleading

Media Release for immediate release
Friday 22 February 2008

Children’s Commissioner says petition is misleading

Many people have been misled by the way the petition calling for a referendum to overturn the law on child discipline was sold to them, Children’s Commissioner Dr Cindy Kiro said today.

“The groups behind this petition have been gathering signatures at public events around New Zealand, luring people in with such statements as ‘do you want to stop child abuse?’,” Dr Kiro said.

“Who among us does not want to stop child abuse? But that is not the real agenda these groups are pushing.

“The agenda is political and nothing to do with the health, welfare and safety of our children. If it were about stopping abuse, the backers of this referendum would not be holding up parents who have been charged and, in some cases, convicted of assault as good parents. It is not and never should be a parental right to assault your child. The police don’t have it wrong. They aren’t knocking on doors and taking good parents to task.

“The groups behind these petitions need to move on. The law change has been made – and there is provision for a review already - and this is something that as a nation, we should be proud of. New Zealand has once again proved to be a leader in human rights.

“If the petition backers truly cared about good parenting, they would, like all the reputable national and international child welfare organisations, be encouraging positive parenting. They would acknowledge that we know more about parenting and child health and development now than we did in our parents’, grandparents’ and great grandparents’ times.

“So let’s move on. If you make the decision to no longer use physical discipline in your home, how do you make the change?

“There are many family-focused organisations in New Zealand who have information on alternatives to physical discipline My office is one and you can contact us on our freephone (0800 224 453) or via our website www.occ.org.nz

“There are positive parenting courses in many communities. There is also help available from family-friendly organisations such as Plunket, SKIP (Strategies with Kids, Information for Parents – www.familyservices.govt.nz/skip/ ), Barnardos and the Families Commission.”

ENDS

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