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Majority support law change to protect children

Media Release
14 November 2008

Majority support law change to protect children, survey says

A majority of people support the law change that offers children the same protection from assault as adults, Children's Commissioner, Dr Cindy Kiro said today when she released results of a survey she commissioned.

"UMR Research omnibus survey results concluded that 43 percent of those surveyed who knew of the law change supported it. Only 28 percent were opposed to the law change. The remainder were neutral," Dr Kiro said.

More than 80 percent of adults surveyed gave a positive response to the question, Should children be entitled to the same protection from assault as adults?

"Eighteen months on, this survey presents a different picture to the images pushed by opponents to changes to the Crimes (Substituted Section 59) Amendment Act 2007. Since the law changed in May last year, there has been vocal opposition to it from groups who want to cling on to violence in the name of disciplining children. Ironically, these are often the same groups who claim New Zealand society is excessively violent. Yet the evidence is clear that violence leads to violence," Dr Kiro said.

"My office commissioned a survey to determine what attitudes were to the law change. We wanted to establish a benchmark, so attitude changes and knowledge of the law could be monitored over time.

"There is a high awareness of the law change but not so much awareness of the provisions of the new law. Many parents are ready to move on and find positive ways of parenting that involve discipline without violence, so there needs to be support for that with information and education."

Dr Kiro said attitudes towards child discipline had changed since the office first surveyed people in 1993. At that time, 87 percent of survey respondents thought there were times when it was all right to use physical punishment with children. This year's survey showed that had reduced to 58 percent of respondents.

The questions, included as part of a wider telephone survey by UMR Research in July 2008, asked participants to rate their response to statements using a set scale, to establish public understanding of the law and attitudes towards physical punishment.

For the omnibus survey report go to: www.occ.org.nz


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