The Yes Vote – NZ Referendum on Child Discipline 2009

official review of the law

Section 7 of the Crimes (Substituted Section 59) Ammendment Act 2007 required the Chief Executive of Child Youth and Family to:

(1) The chief executive must, in accordance with this section, monitor, and advise the Minister on, the effects of this Act, including the extent to which this Act is achieving its purpose as set out in section 4 of this Act, and of any additional impacts.

(2) As soon as practicable after the expiry of the period of 2 years after the date of the commencement of this Act, the chief executive must—

(a) review the available data and any trends indicated by that data about the matters referred to in subsection (1); and

(b) report the chief executive’s findings to the Minister.

(3) As soon as practicable after receiving the report under subsection (2), the Minister must present a copy of that report to the House of Representatives.

This requirement was inserted into the legislation at a fairly late stage in its passage through Parliament in part to ensure that if the new law was leading to unnecessary criminalisation of parents for minor infringements this would be apparent.

The review requirements are quite extensive and should provide an opportunity for the Chief Executive to report on any relevant data about how the law is being administered and what effects it is having on attitudes and behaviour.  Unfortunately details about what information the Chief Executive intends to report on are not publicly available.  It is likely that politicians will make it clear that how the Act is being applied will be a major issue they are interested in.

Police reports indicate that in fact relatively few complaints are made for simple smacking and there have only been a very limited number of prosecutions for minor acts of physical discipline so their should be no surprises in terms of how the law is being implemented.

Decisions about the future of the law will best be made on information contained in the review and not on the results of a poorly worded referendum.

New Zealand’s child discipline law is a good one.
The law supports positive parenting.
The law increases children’s protection from assault.
Please email your MP and ask them to support retention of the current law.

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

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