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Time to put the smacking debate behind us

Media release
Monday 07 December 2009


Put the smacking debate behind us and focus on positive parenting says Families Commission

The Families Commission welcomes the results of the review of the Crimes (Substituted Section 59) Amendment Act, announced by the Prime Minister today, and says it is time for New Zealanders to put the smacking debate behind them and concentrate on fostering safe, nurturing families.

Chief Families Commissioner Dr Jan Pryor says she is pleased that the review of the New Zealand Police and Child Youth and Families policies and procedures relating to the legislation had shown that good parents were being treated as Parliament intended and that both agencies were responding appropriately and proportionately to child safety issues raised with them.

“It is welcome confirmation that the withdrawal of the section 59 defence against a charge of assault on a child has not resulted in a rash of inappropriate investigations or prosecutions of good parents who occasionally smack,” Dr Pryor says. “We urge all parties in this debate to now focus on what is the real issue for kiwi children, and that is how we ensure they experience safe, loving families free from violence and neglect.

“The promotion of positive parenting techniques, and supporting families as the core foundation of our society, will do a lot more to help children than continued bickering on the legal rights and wrongs of smacking.”

Dr Pryor says the Commission’s own research confirms that parents were getting the positive parenting message and moving away from smacking even before the section 59 amendment.

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“Our Child Discipline in Context research, published recently but carried out before section 59 was withdrawn as a defence, showed the vast majority of parents were not smacking, and those that were, were only smacking very occasionally as a last resort.

“We warmly welcome this review and its recommendations, as evidence that our official agencies are taking a sensible view of the smacking debate and focusing their energies, instead, on the very real issues of family violence and child abuse. Which is as it should be.”

ENDS

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