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Concerned Parents to Gather outside MP's office

Concerned Parents to Gather outside MP Benson-Pope’s Office

A group of concerned parents are gathering today outside MP David Benson-Pope’s Dunedin office at 12pm to gather signatures for a petition to oppose the repeal of s59 of the Crimes Act.

“We have chosen to gather outside Benson-Pope’s office since as Minister of CYPFS he will likely be responsible for removing children from those families this Bill will classify as child abusers.” Anna Vaatstra said today.

“Contrary to media reports the Bill does not just outlaw smacking of children, it outlaws any use of force for the purposes of correcting behavior. This will mean that even for the non-smacking parent any discipline the child does not consent to will be illegal under this Bill. If a child refuses a request to go to the ‘naughty spot’ parents will have to use force to pick the child up and place them in the ‘naughty spot’ and hence will have committed an assault under this bill for which there is no defence of reasonableness.” Matthew Flannagan said today.

Mrs Vaatstra dismissed the argument that the law will not be enforced against normal parents if passed. “Even if authorities showed discretion and did not prosecute normal, sensible parenting, they would have the legal right to do so. Parenting will become something tolerated purely at police discretion and not a right recognised in law. This is an insult and threat to every parent in the country.”

Dr Flannagan concluded, “As much as I despise child abusers, every person is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Any person accused of child abuse has the right to argue that their actions were reasonable and justified before a court of law and have a jury of their peers decide whether their defence is valid. To remove this right to raise a defence and instead criminalise the actions of almost all parents in order to ensure guilty criminals are in fact prosecuted is a chilling and dangerous precedent.”


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