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Vote “YES” Supports The Protection Of Children

14 June 2009
Embargoed until Sunday 14 June 2009 at 12.00pm

Child Discipline Referendum – Vote “YES” Supports The Protection Of Children

In the first three weeks of August, we will go through the tedious process of yet another public consultation exercise on the child discipline law in the form of a non binding postal referendum. All registered voters will receive notification this week from the Chief Electoral Office that postal voting on the non-binding referendum on child discipline will happen between July 31 and August 21.

‘Supporters of the child discipline law should vote "Yes" in the August referendum’ says Viv Gurrey, Chief Executive Officer of Parents Centres NZ Inc. Parents Centres are members of the Yes Vote Coalition of child and family-focused organisations rallying to support the existing law.

"Voting ‘Yes’ is the best option for New Zealanders who support the protection of children. The law sets a standard that states violence against children is unacceptable. This is particularly important in a country with such high rates of violence against children." Says Gurrey

Two years ago, by a majority of 113 votes to 8, Parliament gave children protection from physical assault by their parents. Those behind the expensive waste of tax payer’s money consistently said the changes would lead to the criminalisation of good parents but despite their continued harangue, this hasn’t occurred and is to the contrary. In fact those charged with administering the law, the police, have found that there are very few complaints about smacking, and that parents are not being prosecuted for minor assaults.

The “Yes Vote” supports the law as it now stands, following removal in 2007 of the right to a defense in child abuse cases of "reasonable force" in punishing a child.

The referendum question is: 'Should a smack, as a part of good parental correction, be a criminal offence in New Zealand?' The question is aimed to deflect from the real issue which is “is the law working?”

"The Yes Vote campaign seeks to cut through the confusing and deceptive referendum question and offer voters the opportunity to base their choice on accurate facts and the information on which to do so."

The referendum question - "Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?" -not only implies that all good parents smack, but wrongly suggests that a parent who smacks will be prosecuted. It is outrageous that while many scrape to put food on the table and afford to heat their homes we are spending $10 million for the privilege of answering this deceitful and misleading question.

Meanwhile, nearly one child a week is admitted to Starship Children's hospital with serious injuries inflicted by an adult who is in a position of trust and is caring for them. The change to Section 59 was never purported as a panacea to fix the pandemic issues we have in child abuse in this country but it was a start and one that appears to be working ‘fit for purpose’ in its existing state.

‘It is simply nonsense to re-litigate and at great expense, a law that is working as it should’ says Gurrey.

Parents Centres NZ Inc is the primary provider of childbirth education in New Zealand employing over 100 childbirth educators and has the largest parenting based support network and infrastructure available to all parents in the community across 52 Centres nationwide.


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