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Govt Will Fail To Protect Children Says Harré

Media Release Monday 2nd December 2002 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


“The Government will fail to protect children if it allows parents to continue to use ‘reasonable force’ on their children” Alliance Leader and former Minister of Youth Affairs Laila Harré said today.

Laila Harré says that the new Minister of youth Affairs John Tamihere is sending out the wrong message.

"It is very sad that the Minister responsible for reporting on compliance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is telling New Zealand that hitting kids is okay.“

“Mr Tamihere’s claim that, by repealing Section 59 of the Crimes Act, ordinary mums and dads will end up being prosecuted for smacking their kids is not true. An equivalent law in Sweden was repealed in 1979. In the 23 years since that repeal, there has been no increase in prosecution of parents. It’s not about prosecuting parents who occasionally hit their children. It’s about giving children the same legal protection from abuse as adults and animals – nothing more and nothing less.”

“If we are serious about stopping child abuse in this country, we have to take a stand. As the law stands now, juries have acquitted parents who have seriously physically abused children. By serious, I mean hitting children with bits of wood and hosepipes leaving bruises and scars. Section 59 allows this minority of parents to get away with the excuse of using ‘reasonable force’. Who would be in favour of a law that paves the way for physical abuse of children?”

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‘Professor Ritchie’s research shows that more than 50% of parents are hitting their children more than once a week. Parents hit, he says, because they don’t know what else to do,” Ms Harré says.

“As a parent of young children, I know how hard parenting can be. I also know there are alternatives – It’s time that the government put some real effort into making those alternatives more accessible to all parents. Dodging the issues helps no-one – least of all our children who deserve all the protection we can offer them.”


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