April 29, 2009
As parents become better informed about the positive and effective ways of disciplining children the less confusion there will be over New Zealand’s law regarding physical punishment, the Families Commission says.
Chief Commissioner Dr Jan Pryor responded today to a statement from Family First NZ which suggested that immigrants to New Zealand were confused about this country’s child discipline law. “Family First has selectively used a few small quotes from our Settling In report on how immigrant families adjust to New Zealand culture,” Dr Pryor said, “but Mr McCoskrie should have read further. The report also says very clearly that families realised their new environment in New Zealand had created a need for other ways of solving problems and that this had already changed their family relationships for the better.”
Dr Pryor said the report showed that parents are willing to learn new and better ways of approaching the issue of discipline in their families. Improving education and support for parents is a better answer.
“Healthy, positive relationships within families do not involve people hitting each other and the Commission continues to believe that repeal was one step that, combined with other nationwide efforts to address violence, will help us become a violence-free society. “Confusion is a poor excuse for throwing out a good law, rather is shows more effort is needed to improve public understanding.”
The law change did not introduce any new criminal offence. The offence was, and always has been one of assault; and police continue to investigate allegations of assault on children and prosecute only those where they believe the assault is serious enough to take to court.
Police say that since the law was introduced there has been no significant increase in the number of complaints, investigations, prosecutions or other activity related to smacking or minor physical assaults against children.