Archive for July, 2009
July 31, 2009
Catholic aid agency Caritas Aotearoa NZ is backing a “Yes” vote in the upcoming smacking referendum, but acknowledges people could, in good conscience, vote either way.
A citizens initiated referendum on the question “Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?” runs from July 31 to August 21. The result is not binding.
The referendum came about after a 390,000-signature petition last year.
The Crimes (Substituted Section 59) Amendment Act 2007 allows reasonable force to be used for limited reasons, but not for correction. The act removed a wide-ranging defence of reasonable force.
A parliamentary compromise in 2007 saw police given discretion not to prosecute where the force used is inconsequential.
Caritas believes the law is therefore a good balance between child protection and the rights of families to make decisions for themselves without undue government interference, often described as subsidiarity.
This is in line with Catholic social teaching and prevents unnecessary prosecutions, Caritas said in statement.
The bishops’ conference also sought a balanced solution in their 2007 statement “Children are Precious Gifts”.
Because the referendum is seen politically as a vote of support for or opposition to the current law, Caritas recommends a “Yes” vote.
Director Mike Smith said the referendum question will not give a clear answer about child discipline because a person could support the 2007 compromise while voting either way.
Thus the “ambiguous” question means “many New Zealanders who support efforts to reduce violence against children may, in good conscience, still feel obliged to vote ‘No'”.
Caritas called for more parental education and believes referendum funding could have been better used this way.
A police activity review showed that there were no prosecutions brought for child assault which involved smacking between October and April.
Out of 279 “child assault events” attended, 39 involved minor acts of physical discipline and eight involved smacking. Police prosecuted four of the former and none of the latter.
July 31, 2009
A survey of 5263 children has found the majority believe parents who are taken to court for hitting a child should not be let off if they say they were disciplining a child. 52 percent of children said they don’t think adults should be let off. 39 percent said adults should be let off and 9 percent were not sure.
“The views of those who participated in the survey on the child helpline 0800Whatsup, show a range of opinion among children and young people. The majority of comments were in favour of the current law and some callers stated explicitly that parents who hit children should themselves be disciplined for doing so,” said Murray Edridge, Chief Executive of Barnardos New Zealand.
“Many of those who believe that parents should have the right to hit children expressed several conditions applying to this right: hitting should not be excessive, alternatives to hitting should be used, and the use of hitting should be justified by the extent of the child’s misbehaviour. They also showed an awareness that discipline might not be the real motive for hitting.”
Mr Edridge said, “With voting papers going out in the next couple of days it is important for New Zealanders to take into account the views of children, given the affect of corporal punishment on them. It’s clear that a ‘yes’ vote is consistent with the aspirations of children to have legal protection from assault and to be able to live free from violence.”
“Similarly, with research showing there are positive trends away from the use of corporal punishment, a ‘yes’ vote is an expression of support for parents’ choice to not hit their children. Positive, non-violent, parenting is more effective than corporal punishment as well as supporting better long-term outcomes for children and for society. This is something we should all say ‘yes’ to!” he concluded.
July 30, 2009
John Campbell ran a heated but civil discussion on the referendum tonight, with Anton Blank (Te Kahui Mana Ririki) and Murray Edridge (Barnardos) representing The Yes Vote pitted against Sheryll Saville and Bob McCoskrie speaking for the Vote No lobby.
View the video.
July 30, 2009
Many people have asked me how I will be voting in the upcoming referendum on smacking children. My personal position is that I will be voting “yes”.
I have been a proud and consistent supporter of moves to make it unlawful to hit children. I supported at every stage the passing of what started out as Sue Bradford’s Abolition of Force as a Justification for Child Discipline Bill. In the debate during the committee stages on that Bill relating to its purpose and title, I said:
It could equally be described as the “Crimes (Giving Children the Same Protection from Assaults as Adults) Bill”. It could equally be fairly described as the “Providing Reassurance to Parents by Providing Protection in Situations of Restraint for the Purposes of Keeping a Child or Other Person Safe Bill”. It could be equally, ably described as the “All Use of Force to Punish a Child will be Illegal, and This is Clear to Parents Bill”.
It could be described as the “Making a Smack Equally Unlawful Along With Other Harsh Punishments of a Child Bill”. It could be called the “Sending a Very Clear Public Message that Violence Against Children is Unacceptable Bill”. It could be called the “Making Legislation Consistent With the SKIP Initiative and Other Positive Parenting Initiatives Bill”. It could be called the “Making it Clear that Private Schools Cannot Get Parents to Physically Punish their Children for the School, as Currently Happens, Bill”. It could be called the “Making it Clear that it is Illegal to Hit Children Anywhere on their Bodies Bill”.
It could be called the “Making New Zealand’s Legislation Consistent with International Human Rights Obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment Bill”; that would be an equally apt name for this legislation. It could be called the “Making New Zealand’s Crime Laws Consistent with the Children, Young Persons, and their Families Act, the Domestic Violence Act, and the Care of Children Act Bill”. It could be called any of those names because they describe what the bill does.
Not only have my views on the intention of the legislation not changed, but I believe that the police have demonstrated diligence and balance in administering the law.
What we have seen instead is a testament to the willingness of most New Zealanders to acknowledge that fair is fair: kiwis are good parents in general, but should not allow those who abuse then and cower either behind their culture, their past, their religion or their own stubbornness by defending practises that no longer reflect who we are as a nation.
Put another way, the current legislation is working; let it be.
There are some who would suggest that the legislation is not popular even within my own community, that the Pacific community is unanimous in their opposition to such change. I am reminded again of what I said in 2007:
Some of us who are young and of the Pacific know a large number of Pacific families who have opted out of violence and deliberately refrained from the practices of the previous generation. We have decided not to perpetuate the cycle of violence. There are many people in that category and I hope that I am thought to be one of them. It is patronising and a bit sickening to hear speaker after speaker talk about how the Pacific community-this mythical monolith-is opposed to this legislation. That is not so. There is a generation of young Pacific people in this country who are achievers and who are very proud of the fact that we have broken cycles of abuse and poverty. This sort of legislation is what we support. Let it not be said that there is a monolithic Pacific community against this legislation-that is a myth.
We all can be better, we all can do better and we all can help others better. Let’s not lose sight of that.
I will vote yes to protect the rights of those who cannot defend themselves; to promote solutions that allow the police to utilize what they have been trained to do; as an affirmation of my conviction that Kiwi parents are good parents; to break another cycle of violence.
July 29, 2009
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Three Kiwi high school students explain why they supporting voting YES in the Citizens Initiated Refereundum: “Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in NZ.” Also includes comment from UNICEF NZ Executive Director Dennis McKinlay.
It’s about sending a message to the next generation of families … that it’s not OK to hit children.
It’s less about a law change than it is about an attitude change.
Adults have a huge responsibility to stand up for us in this situation.
The rights of children have been largely overlooked … the referendum is about childrens rights.
July 29, 2009
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July 29, 2009
Sue Bradford and Deborah Morris-Travers explain why it’s important to vote YES in the referendum.
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July 29, 2009
Niam and Ruairi Welan-Turnbull and Conor and Beau O'Connell were delivering Yes Vote leaflets with KCDC councillor Lyndy McIntyre
It’s not okay to smack dogs, adults or even old people,” said Niahm, “So it shouldn’t be okay to hit kids.”
That was the message Niamh and the Mana Greens were in the midst of delivering to 5000 letterboxes in the Mana electorate.
Ms McIntyre said the group, which had about 100 members, decided they needed to get out and campaign on the approaching postal referendum: “Because there is alot of misinformation about it out there.”
The leaflet outlined why the current law should be upheld. Between July 31 and August 21, all eligible voters would be asked to answer the question: ‘Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?’
Ms McIntyre said although the question was worded badly, people should not get bogged down with that and should vote yes.
Niamh’s brother Ruairi said he felt worried when he heard adults talkking about smacking kids. “I wish I could vote,” he said.
Republished with permission from The Kapiti Observer
July 26, 2009
Body Shop action stations support turning the tide on smacking as “good parenting”.
This week, action stations in The Body Shop will provide people with information about why a ‘yes’ vote in the referendum supports parents in their use of positive parenting.
New evidence that parents are increasingly shunning physical punishment as an effective method of parenting was published by the New Zealand Herald this weekend. It shows a steep drop in the numbers of both mothers and fathers using smacking frequently or at all. Most exciting is the huge jump in both mothers and fathers who now say they never smack.
“The tide is turning on physical punishment,” says the Yes Vote campaign spokesperson, Deborah Morris-Travers. “The idea that smacking is ever part of ‘good parental correction’ is on the wane. People wanting to understand why a ‘yes’ vote is consistent with this view, can visit The Body Shop this week to collect information.
“Importantly, this declining use of physical punishment has been going on for at least the last two or three decades. The child discipline law affirms that it is right for parents to avoid physical punishment.
“New Zealand parents are finding other ways to bring up children who are secure, confident, understand limits and boundaries and behave well, without physical punishment. As such, they can be confident about the legal protection granted children in the child discipline law and they can be confident about how the law is working.
“A Yes vote in the forthcoming referendum is consistent with the positive parenting people are using. Voting papers will be mailed this week and a ‘yes’ vote is the best way people can express their support for a national maturing of attitudes to the way we treat our children,” concluded Ms Morris-Travers.