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Members Bill On Smacking Unneeded Moderate Measure

10 September 2001

Mr Bob Simcock’s Members Bill On Smacking An Unneeded Moderate Measure

Party Leader Graham Capill is unconvinced that any amendment to Section 59 of the Crimes Act is needed. “The Courts have never tolerated abuse and to suggest otherwise is untrue and straight scare mongering,” Mr Capill said.

“While Mr Simcock’s Bill is a moderate approach, the Christian Heritage Party is concerned that the flexibility of the current “reasonable force” test will be lost. What is reasonable for an 11 year old boy may be totally unreasonable for a 2 year old girl. The current test allows a court to consider all the circumstances.

“Using ‘reasonable force’ as the sole measure by which to grade the appropriateness of discipline, gives the court the opportunity to look at all the complex factors surrounding good discipline.

“What we do not want to see is good parents being considered and treated as
criminals, simply because a smack left a bruise on the buttocks.

“While Mr Simcock’s restrictions on ‘reasonable force’ have stopped short of the emotive and more subjective categories of “redness” or “verbal abuse”, it may have been better to restrict hitting or smacking around the head where more permanent damage is possible.

“Mr Simcock’s definition is moderate, but runs the real risk that other MPs might amend his Bill to include measures that restrict the rights of parents to discipline their children. While acknowledging the need to stop child abuse, smacking is not the same thing and the State should not interfere with discipline in the home.” Mr Capill concluded.

END

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