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A text without a context is a pretext

Press Release
For Immediate Distribution

A text without a context is a pretext.

This is what Labour and the Greens are doing now with the Bill to criminalise parents. They are saying that the historical and accepted understanding of smacking and time-out as legal expressions of Section 59's "reasonable force" have, in fact, been illegal all this time.

That is like saying it has always been illegal for police to make arrests.

Looking solely at the legal definition of Assault in Section 2 of the Crimes Act shows that time-out, smacking and arresting all constitute acts of criminal assault. But taken in the context of the entire Act, it becomes obvious that Section 59 recognises parents have legitimate authority to use "reasonable force" - not unreasonable force - to correct their children and that several other sections of the Act give police and even bystanders legitimate authority to use force - sometimes the Act doesn't even specify that it must be "reasonable" - to arrest people for various reasons.

So Labour and the Greens reference the text of Section 2 of the Crimes Act, without the context of the rest of the Act, for the pretext of claiming that smacking and time-out are already illegal.

The second pretext employed by Labour and the Greens is to say that "all this Bill does" is remove the defense of "reasonable force" for correcting a child. So after telling us that the Bill won't criminalise parents, because those who smack are already criminals, they add that from now on parents who smack or use any force at all to correct will have to be found guilty of assault, for there will no longer be a legal defense.

Labour and Green are saying, "You parents have always been criminals. From now on you have no refuge in law. If you use even reasonable force to correct your children for anything they do, you will be guilty of child assault. If you are seen or even suspected, you will be investigated. If you have corrected your child, you will be charged and you will be found guilty, for there is no longer a legal defense for correcting a child."

Craig Smith
National Director
Family Integrity



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