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Research On Physical Punishment Misses The Point

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 9 OCTOBER 2006

Research On Physical Punishment Misses The Point Of Repeal Of Section 59

John Bowis, Executive Director of Save the Children, spokesperson for a group of organisations that support repeal of section 59 Crimes Act 1961 says comment on recently released research, (reported in the NZ Herald on Saturday), misses the point of repeal.

Dr Millichamp, a Dunedin researcher, claims that recent research finds that children who are lightly smacked on leg, hand or clothed behind do not suffer any adverse effects and that for this reason section 59 Crimes Act 1961 should be amended to describe how children can be hit rather than repealed outright.

John Bowis says “Those of us that support repeal do not claim that children who are lightly smacked are necessarily harmed. Many factors influence whether a light smack will be harmful including parenting style (generally positive rather than negative) and the presence or otherwise of other violence in the home.”

“However we are absolutely convinced that there is good evidence that frequent and harsh physical punishment is harmful and that far too many New Zealand children experience harmful physical punishment that puts them at risk of poor outcomes. Dr Millichamp’s figures confirm that over 50 per cent of children in New Zealand experience harsh physical punishment," John Bowis said.

Dr Millichamp misunderstands the purpose of repeal. The purpose of our campaign to have section 59 repealed has always been to support a change in social attitudes to children’s discipline and to encourage positive parenting. Positive parenting does not include the use of force.

Amending Section 59 to define how children can be hit will not send parents a consistent message.

We don’t ask the question of men hitting women “Does it do them any harm or how much will be harmful?” Why do we keep trying to quantify how much we can hit children?

Ends


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