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No confusion about the law on hitting children

Media release
Barnardos New Zealand

30 September 2008

There should be no confusion about the law on hitting children

"Despite the extensive comment in the media over the last couple of days, there should be no confusion about the law surrounding physical punishment of children", said Murray Edridge, Chief Executive of Barnardos New Zealand today.

"The Crimes (Substituted Section 59) Amendment Act is working well. It is, and has always been, against the law to hit children. The change to the law in 2007 was simply removing the legal defence of 'reasonable force' to a criminal charge of assault on a child."

"Like every other citizen in New Zealand, children are entitled to be safe, and to have effective legal protection from assault. Police statistics released in July this year confirm that the child discipline law has not resulted in parents being criminalised unnecessarily. In all cases of assault, the police have discretion as to whether to press charges or not".

Mr Edridge concluded by saying "this country has provided some international leadership in the way our legislation supports and cares for our children. With the appropriate understanding and parent education, we will ensure that New Zealand is indeed a great place to raise our children".


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