Archive for the media statement Category

Protocols review timely and appropriate

August 24, 2009

Prime Minister John Key’s announcement today of a review of referral protocols between the Police and the Child Youth and Family services is a positive step to entrenching the child discipline law as it now stands.

“The first aim of those protocols should be to ensure that struggling parents are encouraged to get good help,” says Deborah Morris-Travers, spokesperson for the Yes Vote coalition, which supports the law as it stands.

“The Government has shown considerable political courage in standing up for New Zealand children by reacting as it has to the result of the referendum.

“Member organisations of the Yes Vote coalition look forward to being invited to work with the Police/CYFS review, especially to the extent that referral protocols also apply to non-government family help agencies,” Ms Morris-Travers says.

Protocols Review Timely and Appropriate

Prime Minister John Key’s announcement today of a review of referral protocols between the Police and the Child Youth and Family services is a positive step to entrenching the child discipline law as it now stands.

“The first aim of those protocols should be to ensure that struggling parents are encouraged to get good help,” says Deborah Morris-Travers, spokesperson for the Yes Vote coalition, which supports the law as it stands.

“The Government has shown considerable political courage in standing up for New Zealand children by reacting as it has to the result of the referendum.

“Member organisations of the Yes Vote coalition look forward to being invited to work with the Police/CYFS review, especially to the extent that referral protocols also apply to non-government family help agencies,” Ms Morris-Travers says.

Time for real action on child abuse

August 23, 2009

Whatever proposals the Cabinet considers this week, they must focus on the need for real action on New Zealand’s shameful levels of serious child abuse.

“It is time to stop squabbling about the right to smack children and get down to serious action to stop child abuse,” says the Yes Vote coalition spokesperson Deborah Morris-Travers.

“On this, there is no disagreement between Yes and No voters.

“We have the world’s worst child death by maltreatment rate, and the consequences of child maltreatment and are costing all New Zealanders $2 billion a year in social welfare, legal, prison system and other costs, let alone the community and social costs.”

That cost is the conclusion of an Infometrics report prepared for Every Child Counts, which counts many Yes vote supporter organisations among its members.

“The Prime Minister is to be applauded for sticking by the law as it stands, and for seeking non-legislative responses which can give people comfort on the issues that clearly concern many.

“We hope that the Government will now seize an opportunity to take serious action on the real problem that distresses us all: the huge cost to individuals, society, and the economy of child abuse.”

“Since before its passage in 2007, member organisations of the Yes Vote coalition have advocated active communication with the public about what the law means and how it is intended to operate to contribute to lowering child abuse rates in New Zealand.

“If such action is part of the Government response, we will support that wholeheartedly. Such an approach would hasten the change in social attitudes to physical punishment which is already occurring, and which is a fundamental part of stopping child abuse.

National Council of Women stands by the Child Discipline Law

August 21, 2009

The National Council of Women of New Zealand (NCWNZ) will continue to support a law that allows children to grow up free from violence, regardless of the referendum results.

In 1997 NCWNZ passed a resolution by majority that called for the repeal of Section 59 of the Crimes Act 1961 so that children could be afforded the same legal protection from assault as adults.

NCWNZ applauds the law changes that followed and urges the government to stand by the decision made in 2007 to protect children from unjust physical punishment.

“There needs to be more education around the current law and more information around the benefits of positive parenting over physical discipline,” says Elizabeth Bang, NCWNZ National President.

Studies have shown that rewards are more effective than punishment in terms of modifying behaviour for the better. The use of physical punishment has also been shown to produce overwhelmingly negative lifelong consequences and condition the individual to view violence as a solution.

“If it’s not an effective discipline solution and has harmful side effects on the individual and society”, says Elizabeth Bang, “why would anyone ever use physical discipline”.

NCWNZ believes the law is working and that the child-rearing practices of many New Zealanders are being positively affected.

“The child discipline law gives our kids the possibility to grow up in a society that over time will become less violent,” says Elizabeth Bang, “that’s a good thing”.

Viv Gurrey: The Referendum did not provide a mandate for changing the Child Discipline Law

August 21, 2009

On behalf of Parents Centres New Zealand Inc and our 52 affiliated Centres across New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Viv Gurrey, says “The result of this referendum does not provide a distinct and clear mandate for changing a law that is proven to be working” .

“Our membership urges the National led government and all Members of Parliament to wait for the outcome of the planned review of the law” before considering (if any) action.

“Now we have the loaded, confusing and ambiguous referendum behind us, let’s rely on hard facts and data to inform decisions”.

“It is more than enough that we have gone to an unnecessary expense to feed the egos of some in our society that appear to be obsessed with their personal right to hit a child. Let’s not compound this further by making change without supporting facts”.

“These facts state categorically that this law is working” says Gurrey. “Parents Centres have no doubt that this trend will continue”.

Parents Centres considers the referendum question was obtuse in its intent. Those who poll professionally are very aware that the result you achieve depends specifically on the question you ask. If you ask people if they want something that looks bad, dishonest or false to happen the majority will say no. In this referendum the question is framed up as good parents being made into criminals.

It suggested that hitting children was good parenting practice and those ‘good’ parents are being criminalised when neither is true. Because of this, we are aware that some people preferred to abstain from voting or even to vote no despite being supporters of the current law.

“Many credible agencies and individuals who touch the lives of parents and children daily have taken the opportunity that this referendum has offered to better inform people about the law and about positive parenting”.

Research is showing that growing numbers of parents recognise there is no need to use physical punishment and the law is consistent with this shift in public attitudes and behaviour. Parents Centre would like to see increased public education about the law and further resources made available to support sector organisations in their provision of service”.

Mrs Gurrey concludes by saying “Parents Centres will continue to focus on providing the essential support and education to parents that they need to raise healthy and confident children able to contribute positively to society in a resilient home environment free from physical discipline”.

Murray Edridge: The Child Discipline Law is still the best option

August 21, 2009

“Barnardos New Zealand continues to support the child discipline law as the best option for New Zealand because it sets a clear standard that children should be allowed to live free from violence,” Barnardos Chief Executive Murray Edridge said tonight.

“The referendum did not ask a direct question about people’s acceptance or otherwise of the law. It suggested that hitting children was good parenting practice and that ‘good’ parents are being criminalised when neither is true. Because of this, we are aware that some people preferred to abstain from voting even though they strongly support the current law.

“As such, the referendum doesn’t provide any clear mandate for change. We urge Members of Parliament to wait for the outcome of the review of the law because it will deal with the facts and provide an objective and dispassionate view of how the law is working.

“Change to the law should not be considered now but rather an ongoing monitoring programme should be established – using sound measures to monitor the law’s impact and effects. There should also be increased public education about the law and positive, non-physical discipline.

“The referendum was a great opportunity for Barnardos, and the long list of other credible agencies working with children and families, to better inform people about the law and about positive parenting. Research is showing that growing numbers of parents recognise there is no need to use physical punishment and the law is consistent with this shift in public attitudes and behaviour.

“We are pleased that 11 percent of the votes expressed support for the law and we are confident that over time even higher numbers of Kiwis will acknowledge the need for the law as it now stands,” concluded Mr Edridge.

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Some positive value in referendum

August 21, 2009

The outcome of the child discipline referendum, announced this evening, was always a foregone conclusion, given the confusing and leading question that it asked, says the Yes Vote coalition, which supports the law as it stands.

“The Yes Vote ran a positive, constructive campaign that attracted the support of hundreds of organisations that deal daily with children and families, and thousands of individuals who reject physical punishment as effective parenting,” said the coalition’s spokesperson, Deborah Morris-Travers.

“We ran the Yes Vote campaign because we believed it was important to have a voice that stood up for children.

“We’re proud to have made that positive contribution, and applaud the political courage of the current Parliament in sticking with the law as it stands.”

While it had cost NZ$9 million, was divisive and unnecessary, the referendum had not been totally without value, Ms Morris-Travers said.

“Strong evidence emerged during the referendum period that smacking is dying out among today’s parents. Good parents are looking for better ways to raise their children, and increasingly questioning the outdated notion of ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’.

“By equating smacking with good parenting, even the referendum’s question helped deepen public debate on the issue, since large numbers of both Yes and No voters reject that notion.

“With the law as it stands working well, I suspect we will look back in 10 years time and wonder what all the fuss was about.”

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Yes Vote rejects spending limit claims

August 19, 2009

The Yes Vote coalition rejects today’s New Zealand Herald story claiming that the coalition has “flouted” referendum spending limit rules.

“If anything, staying within the advertising rules has taken a disproportionate amount of time and effort to interpret and comply with,” said Yes Vote spokesperson Deborah Morris-Travers. “We’ve had extensive and regular consultations with the Chief Electoral Office on how to interpret the advertising rules, and the clear advice has been that the Yes Vote campaign, branded as such, is a distinct campaign in itself.

“Our advice has been that the spending cap applies to distinct campaigns, as opposed to the possibility that one or more groups might mount their own campaigns.

“Far from flouting the regulations, we have tried to be scrupulous about following them, which makes today’s story doubly disappointing,” Ms Morris-Travers said.

Voting YES remains the positive option

August 17, 2009

Supporters of the child discipline law as it now stands are urged to complete their referendum postal ballots and mail them before Thursday of this week, August 20, in time to be counted when voting closes on Friday evening.

“Voting Yes remains the positive option for this referendum,” says Deborah Morris-Travers of the Yes Vote coalition.

“A Yes vote supports children, good parents and the evidence published during the referendum lead-up that shows New Zealand parents are rejecting physical punishment as a ‘good parenting’ option.

“No one should be surprised that the No vote campaign is preparing a swanky hotel celebration to celebrate a hollow victory on the slanted and confusing question put to New Zealanders in this referendum,” says Ms Morris-Travers.

“The question was worded to engineer that outcome.

“What they didn’t expect was to be given a run for their money by the Yes vote campaign, which has found support throughout the community, especially among the hundreds of frontline voluntary and non-government agencies that work with real parents and real children every day of the week.”

Ms Morris-Travers appealed to supporters of the law who are abstaining from voting to think again.

“We all agree that this referendum is a waste of money on a bent question, but it is the democratic process in action.  Only by voting can you truly participate and make a positive contribution for New Zealand’s children.”

What to do if you haven’t received voting papers

August 10, 2009

All referendum voting papers have been delivered to voters, with over half a million votes cast so far according to a statement released by Robert Peden, the Chief Electoral Officer of the Ministry of Justice.

“If anyone hasn’t got their referendum voting paper yet, or they’ve lost it or made a mistake on it they should contact us to be issued with a replacement voting paper.”

Voting in the referendum opened on 31 July.

As at 5pm on Thursday 6 August, 570,300 votes had been received though votes would not be counted until after voting closes on 21 August.

“If anyone who enrolled by 30 July has not got their voting paper, they can get a replacement voting paper online at:

www.elections.org.nz/app/cir-reissue/

or by calling Freephone 0800 36 76 56,” says Mr Peden.

Replacement voting papers are usually issued to people who have moved house and not updated their enrolment address details, or the voter has lost their voting paper or made a mistake and it isn’t clear which way they want to vote.

The original voting paper is then cancelled.

“We recommend that people have their voting paper in the mail no later than Thursday 20 August to ensure it gets to us in time,” he said. “If you’ve already made up your mind, I would encourage you to post your voting paper back today so you don’t forget or miss the voting deadline.”

Voting papers from overseas must be postmarked no later than Thursday 20 August (this allows for international time differences to ensure compliance with the close of the voting period).

The Body Shop helps turn the tide on smacking

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.

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

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