June 25, 2009
Media Release: UNICEF NZ (UN Children’s Fund) 24 June, 2009
The UN Children’s Fund in NZ is pleased that the Prime Minister has made an emphatic statement of the Government’s intent to do something about abused children.
“New Zealand’s grim record of child abuse is a national shame and needs urgent attention” says UNICEF NZ executive director, Dennis McKinlay.
“The Prime Minister has recognised this and it is heartening that he has shown leadership with his statement in the House yesterday that not enough has happened and that his government intends to do more.
“We need this commitment to support what communities and individuals are already doing. It is gratifying that he has acknowledged that it’s not enough and that more needs to happen.”
Mr McKinlay referred to the lack of public education following the amendment of S.59 of the Crimes Act in 2007 and believes that if New Zealanders had the opportunity to be well informed about the new legislation, there would be more understanding of and support for the amendment.
“Removing the defence of reasonable force is a step towards eliminating child abuse. Acts of abuse that were previously defended through the old legislation are no longer defensible.”
Mr McKinlay says that he will seek a meeting with the Prime Minister and offer UNICEF’s support in his efforts to deal with our unacceptably high level of child abuse.
“Our youngest citizens are at risk. Support for parents and education about constructive discipline need to be prioritised in the Government agenda to help eliminate child abuse.”
Note: Tuesday 23 June
Hon JOHN KEY: “I go back to the point I just made: members on this side of the House care about abused kids. We look in the hospitals of New Zealand and see thousands of abused kids, and Christine Rankin has spoken out about the damage that is happening to those kids. We are going to do something about abused kids, because not enough happened under the previous Labour Government.”