FAQ: What does the law really let me do?

May 3, 2009

So what does the law really allow me to do as a parent?

Everything you need to do, as long as it doesn’t include using force for the purpose of correcting or punishing your child. Here’s the actual wording of the law:

Every parent of a child and every person in the place of a parent of the child is justified in using force if the force used is reasonable in the circumstances and is for the purpose of:

(a) preventing or minimising harm to the child or another person; or

(b) preventing the child from engaging or continuing to engage in conduct that amounts to a criminal offence; or

(c) preventing the child from engaging or continuing to engage in offensive or disruptive behaviour; or

(d) performing the normal daily tasks that are incidental to good care and parenting.

Parenting can never be strictly ‘hands off’ and as you see the law is very clear parents are totally free to keep their kids safe, out of trouble and to go about normal tasks of parenting and caring for their children.

Sometimes parenting is a hands on process – you hang on to get them into their nappies or out of their coats, you remove them from tormenting the cat or their younger sibling. Imagine all the scenarios that are part of parenting a child, but take away the whacks and wallops. The whole intent of the law:
‘to make better provision for children to live in a safe and secure environment free from violence by abolishing the use of parental force for the purpose of correction.’ Elsewhere on this site you’ll find background information on positive discipline as well as tips on positive parenting.

Plunket Barnardos Save the Children Unicef Jigsaw Ririki Parents CentrePaediatric Society Womens Refuge Epoch

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