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Anniversary of Implementing Law for Children

Media release: Barnardos NZ
20th June 2008

Anniversary of Implementing Law for Children

This weekend marks a year since the Crimes (Substituted Section 59) Amendment Act entered into force. A year on, Barnardos NZ says the new law is working remarkably well.

"The child discipline law brought a new and important standard onto our statute books: children are entitled to the same legal protection from assault as every other citizen in New Zealand. That was a crucial step on the path towards a society that doesn't tolerate any form of violence, and one that truly values and appreciates children," said Murray Edridge, Chief Executive of Barnardos NZ today.

"Over the last year, the few cases we have seen brought to court seem only to involve parents using high levels of violence, or those with prior convictions for violence offences. The first police report showed no significant increase in criminal offences and many of the cases brought to police were referred to family support agencies.

The law change included a requirement for a full review after two years of operation - in June 2009. This will enable the true effect of the legislative change to be objectively and dispassionately assessed.

"Our Members of Parliament are part of an international movement of parliaments who recognise their role in securing the best interests of children."
Since New Zealand passed the law, five more countries have banned physical punishment of children.

"Those campaigning for a referendum on "smacking" should reflect on whether their efforts are in the best interests of children and parents. Referenda are just a diversion. Instead of spending time and money on unnecessary political posturing, this resource should be invested in informing parents about positive parenting and appropriate forms of discipline" concluded Mr Edridge.


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