Archive for November, 2009

Free Booklet: A Theology of Children

November 23, 2009

theology-of-children1A Theology of Children is a new 24-page booklet aimed at supporting and strengthening parents, grandparents, and caregivers with strategies for non-physical discipline of children within a theological context.  You can download A Theology of Children for free.

A Theology of Children was produced with the support of the Ministry of Social Development initiative SKIP (Strategies with Kids/ Information for Parents), and written by Reverend Nove Vailaau, who is very passionate about clarifying the issue of physical discipline in Christian theology. It also has an forward by Bishop Richard Randerson and a summary by Dr Elizabeth Clements.

The booklet has a broad perspective, but also focuses on the Pacific peoples of New Zealand. It provides an opportunity for discussion about parenting practices in Pacific communities and within New Zealand in general.

A Theology of Children aims to help guide parents and caregivers through the six principles of effective discipline: love and warmth, talking and listening, guidance and understanding, limits and boundaries, consistency and consequences, and a structured and secure world.

Download A Theology of Children.

Brian Rudman: Mob rule no substitute for democracy

November 18, 2009

Brian Rudman worries about the so-called “March for Democracy” in the NZ Herald today.

How humiliating to live in a country where $500,000 is being spent encouraging people to march up the main street of our biggest city demanding the right to beat their kids.

It could only happen in a country with one of the worst child murder rates in the developed world.

Read the full article.

Physical punishment of children and the Child Discipline Law

November 16, 2009

Support for the 2007 law remains strong among those that understand how well children in New Zealand will be served in the long term by the repeal of the old section 59 Crimes Act 1961.  As the recent report from the Ministry of Social Development has shown there has been no increase in prosecutions for minor assaults on children since the law change but there seems an increased willingness to report more serious assaults on children.

It is also likely that the law is already contributing (along with information about positive parenting) to a social change away from use of smacking and hitting,    International evidence against the use of physical punishment continues to grow.   Calls from activities opposed to the 2007 law change do not reflect such evidence and the “March for Democracy” is their latest expensive move to apply pressure on politicians to turn back clock and send a message intentionally or unintentionally that physical punishment is a acceptable form of child discipline.

EPOCH NZ have produced a paper reviewing the law in light of recent research and the referendum.

The paper asks:

  • what is the evidence against use of physical punishment?
  • how is the 2007 law working?
  • who supports the 2007 law and who opposes it?
  • how will the safety and wellbeing of New Zealand children be best served now?

The answers to these questions form the basis for the following recommendations:

1.    Keep the law as it is: Children in New Zealand will be very well served over time if the Government stays strong in its resolve not to re-introduce a statutory defence into section 59 Crimes Act 1961.

2.    Provide information about the law and positive, non-violent discipline of children: There is an ongoing need for the dissemination of well-researched and supportive information about:

  • the law and its value
  • how the law is working in practice
  • positive non-physical discipline of children.

3.    Monitor the law and research its effects: The application of the child discipline law should continue to be monitored both to ensure that parents are not investigated and/or prosecuted when these actions are unhelpful and to track attitudinal and behavioural changes and the safety and wellbeing of children over time.

4.    Deal with any changes needed through policy and procedures: If inadequacies are found in the way the law is being applied then further protections should be developed without changing the law.  Such protections should support family functioning but at the same time not encourage the use of physical discipline by implying that it is okay.

Download the paper, Physical Punishment of Children and the Child Discipline Law.

Latest Section 59 review says the law is working well

November 11, 2009

Yet another review of the Child Discipline Law confirms that the law is working well.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennet says in her media release:

“The review has found no evidence to show that parents are being subject to unnecessary state intervention for occasionally lightly smacking their children.
“I think this review goes some way to comforting parents that the law is being interpreted in the way it was intended.”

So if report after monotonous report confirms that the Child Discipline Law is working to protect children without putting parents at risk, one might ask some hard questions about the true agenda of the Orwellianly-named “March for Democracy” as they march by this weekend.

Read the full MSD report.

A personal tribute to Sue Bradford

November 2, 2009

Last week, Sue Bradford left Parliament. I view her departure with mixed feelings. There is much sadness and regret that she is going, but at the same time I know that she has accomplished more than many MPs ever do and that that she is doing what she feels is right for herself at this time. I speak for many colleagues who wish her well in her new directions. We are confident that Sue will continue to make difference to the lives of New Zealanders in many ways by continuing to champion social justice causes.

I first met Sue soon after she was a new MP. I must have been lobbying her for the repeal of section 59 Crimes Act 1961. She understood the issue and its importance – as a mother, from a social justice perspective and as someone with a deep interest in positive outcomes for New Zealand children. Small wonder then that Sue placed a bill for the repeal of section 59 Crimes Act 1961 in the ballot.

In 2005 her bill was drawn – details about the years of public debate on physical punishment of children and the law that have followed are well known. Sue steadfastly retained her principles on this matter – refusing to agree to compromises that would give children a lesser status than adults in the law. An amended version of her original bill became law in 2007 – with support from most MPs.

Sue has been an inspiring leader on the child discipline law. There have been costs for her particularly living with years of emotionally violent written and verbal attacks from some opponents, resentful of her efforts to reduce violence in the family. Sue, I hope the messages of support, respect and admiration your many NGO colleagues and others have expressed have made up for that pain a little.

Sue has received many accolades for her work on section 59 and promotion of positive forms of discipline. There have been awards from colleagues including Childspace Institute and the Psychological Society.

Internationally the movement to end corporal punishment of children around the world is growing – 24 countries have now taken legal measures to end physical punishment of children. Sue is held in high regard by activists in this movement – some friends have sent messages of appreciation at the time of Sue’s retirement from Parliament.

In her time in Parliament Sue has successfully introduced three member’s bills in the House. Significantly all of these benefit young people – lifting the youth minimum wage to adult rates, extending the length of time some mothers in prison can keep their babies with them and, of course, repealing section 59 Crimes Act 1961.

Sue’s name and reputation as a MP who bravely and energetically promoted the interests of children will remain prominent in New Zealand’s history. Just as in 10 years time most New Zealanders will be proud of the section 59 law change so they will remember Sue’s name and feel grateful for what she achieved.

Go well Sue.

Beth Wood (For EPOCH New Zealand)

Note: For a summary of her career in her own words, you can read Sue’s inspirational valedictory speech.


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

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