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Vital to Repeal s59, Commit to Family Support

Media Release 22 March 2007

Elaine A J West
MEd., Adv. Dip. Teaching
Director: LEAP: Leaders in Education and Participation
Parent: Two adult children

Vital for Government to Repeal s59 of the Crimes Act 1961 (the anti-smacking law) and to Commit to Family Education & Family Support Systems

At long last, New Zealand legislators are prepared to give legal protection to our most vulnerable citizens - our nation’s children - by repealing s59 of the Crimes Act.

For too long, we as a people have paid merely lip-service against acts of violence on our children.

For too long, we as a people have not demanded a legally-binding solution that intends to stopping violent abuse against children in our homes.

Having spent around 20 years in the teaching profession - across preschool, primary and secondary levels in both rural and urban environments – issues that impede children’s learning include:

- family violence,

- lack of constructive parenting skills, and

- a political climate that undervalues and erodes family values and systems.

As a professional, and given the high value I have always placed on supporting family relationships, I put together a parenting education programme called: Constructive Parenting Workshops.

Constructive Parenting Workshops were held in London, England and in Auckland, New Zealand.

Primary Schools and Parent Education Workshops

Between 2000 and 2001, I approached central Government with the aim of assisting in the introduction of parenting education programmes within every primary school in New Zealand.

However, the Government was not willing to trial such a programme.

Today, the need to offer Government sponsored parenting programmes in schools is no less than it was six years ago.

Political Climate Leading to Families Being Put at Risk

Further and not least, it is my contention, that New Zealand families are continuing to be undervalued and placed at financial and emotional risk by the current political climate.

Politicians are adamant that families bear unreasonable and increasing costs in bringing up children.

Implicit taxation systems that go with a free market - user charges society do not readily show how families are put under economic stress, nor the resulting negative impact on children’s well- being.

A user charges society will add disproportionate costs to families as charges for just about everything will apply - household rates / rents, water levies, impending: tolls on roads, health charges, school charges, separate charges for libraries, museums, parks and so on.

Without doubt, such costs will make our families financially, socially, and emotionally poorer.

While repeal of s59 of the Crimes Act and the principle that our children must be protected from physical abuse is to be commended, the politicians must go further.

Our children and their families need to be given high value and priority-protection from financial and emotional stressors within a political climate that endorses the free market - user charges philosophy.


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