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Time For Urgent Action On Physical Punishment

MEDIA RELEASE 23 September 2003 for immediate release

Time For Urgent Action On Physical Punishment

Women’s Refuges, Child Abuse Prevention Services and National Network of Stopping Violence Services are united in their support for the Prime Minister’s statement in the media yesterday that she is reconsidering Section 59 of the Crimes Act, which allows parents to use reasonable force in the discipline of children.

“We were excited to hear Helen Clark taking violence against children seriously, it’s just sad that it took yet another tragic murder of a child.”

“The media spotlight is on child abuse at the moment, but we see children at risk in families on a day-to-day basis, and we know that its way past the time for the government to make a stand. We must refuse to tolerate ANY violence towards children” said Heather Henare, National Coordinator of Child Abuse Prevention Services.

The three agencies, specialists in the field of domestic violence, claim that the government has the wrong focus when they put the CYFS education campaign on alternatives to smacking, before legislation change.

“The recent UNICEF report on Child Maltreatment Deaths, that shows that the government needs to lead the way. In countries like Sweden and Germany, social attitudes shifted after a simultaneously outlawing physical punishment and running an education campaign”, said Heather Henare, National Coordinator of Child Abuse Prevention Services.

“Repealing Section 59 is much more than stopping smacking. It’s about getting rid of a legal defence that allows child abusers to physically assault children. It’s about sending the message that we won’t tolerate any violence towards children. It’s about affirming that children have the right to be safe and protected. We need to act urgently,” said Roma Balzer, National Coordinator of Women’s Refuge.


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