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Children's perspective essential to Sec 59 debate

28 September 2005

Children's perspective essential addition to Sec 59 debate

Save the Children's new study that shows physical punishment damages kids and simply doesn't work as discipline is being welcomed by Green Party Children Issues Spokesperson Sue Bradford.

Ms Bradford has a private member's bill before a Parliamentary Select Committee that would end the legal defence of 'reasonable force' in child assault cases by repealing section 59 of the Crimes Act. The new Save the Children in-depth survey of 80 children found 92 percent had either experienced physical punishment themselves or believed other children had. It also found that parents often used violence as the first option rather than the last and that children were fearful as a result but didn't believe that it worked as discipline.

"Above all, I applaud this report's essential contribution to the debate around repeal of section 59 because for the first time in recent months the voice of children is being heard," Ms Bradford says.

"I hope politicians from all parties will read this report and begin to look at this issue from the perspective of children rather than simply focussing on adults' beliefs.

"Too much of this debate has been driven by adults who are fighting for their perceived right to physically discipline their children. They are not hearing the voices of the young who are most affected by a law which legitimises the use of force against children in situations where if the same force were used against adults the perpetrator could be sent to jail.

"The Green Party believes that all new policies and laws should be examined through children's eyes before they are implemented - doubly so where children are the people most affected.

"So I congratulate Terry Dobbs and Save the Children for carrying out this research. While the results are sad, in that they show distressing rates of abusive behaviour in this country, it is critical that all of us recognise the reality that there are high levels of violence inside New Zealand families and that has a huge impact on our children.

"I hope when the Select Committee submission process for my bill opens, after the new Government is formed, groups like Save the Children and others will find ways to enable children to actually make their own submissions," Ms Bradford says.

ENDS

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