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Commissioner pushes for child protection

20 February 2007

Children’s Commissioner pushes for child protection through law change

Children’s Commissioner, Dr Cindy Kiro is optimistic that parliament will show support for Green MP, Sue Bradford’s bill to remove the defence of justifiable support force when charged with assaulting a child when it is voted upon on Wednesday.

“As Children’s Commissioner, I strongly support Ms Bradford’s bill. It would remove current discrimination against children, giving them the same rights as adults and animals not to be assaulted. It is a fundamental and necessary step to ensure that New Zealand children grow up in a safe and secure family environment, free from all forms of violence,” says Dr Kiro.

“Legislative change will not result in prosecution of parents who use mild physical punishment occasionally. The Police will continue to work as they always have – which includes exercising their discretion to make decisions about when to lay charges of assault, using the guidelines they have always used. If parents commit an offence equal to assault they will face the same consequences, regardless of the age of the victim – as in the past.”

““In addressing concerns about criminalisation of parents, a key consideration should be the best interests of the child. The proposed change is consistent with a legislative and policy context which prioritises a whole child approach and working for improved outcomes for children.”

“There has been much said in recent times about the need to improve outcomes for our children. It is time to stop talking and start acting. Wednesday will present politicians with a real opportunity to do so. I urge all those as leaders in parliament to place children at the centre of this important legislative decision and vote to support the bill.”

ENDS

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