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Saying yes for our children


Jigsaw Family Services

18 June 2009

Saying yes for our children

Jigsaw Family Services is urging New Zealanders to put themselves in children’s shoes over the so-called smacking referendum.

“What would our children do if they were allowed to vote? Would they ask to be smacked because they thought it was good for them?” says Liz Kinley, Jigsaw’s CEO (Strategic Operations).

Jigsaw’s network of 34 community agencies employs about 500 staff to stop child abuse and family violence.

“Because children don’t have a voice in the debate it’s up to child-centred agencies to speak out on their behalf. Children are telling us they’re confused when people they love and trust hit them.

“It makes them resentful rather than relaxed and confident. And it teaches them that hitting is an acceptable way of expressing anger or disapproval.”

The controversy around the ambiguous wording of the referendum question should not deter voters from affirming the existing legislation by voting “yes”.

Liz Kinley says a “yes” vote is a vote for our children. It reinforces their right to have the same legal protection as adults.

“We don’t want parents to end up in court for a light smack and because the law gives police discretion over prosecutions that isn’t happening.

“Parents want to do the best job they can. They may have been whacked as children. They know it doesn’t work and want to treat their own children differently.”

Jigsaw’s agencies are committed to helping families find better ways to nurture and discipline children.

“The demand for our parenting programmes shows New Zealand is moving to a place where hitting children isn’t tolerated. Two decades ago we made the transition in our schools. So why not in our own homes?” says Liz Kinley.


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