Posts Tagged christine rankin

Opposition weakens

June 28, 2009

Media release: Students Against Violence                        June 28, 2009

It has interested me to watch the debate heat up once more over the last few weeks, once again the so called ‘anti-smacking law’ was headlining the newspapers.

The attention moved from the law itself to the referendum and the question itself. It is interesting to see that the New Zealand public haven’t been fooled by the question and are simply going to ignore it, perhaps in the shadow of our countries political party leaders John Key and Phil Goff.

New Zealanders appears to be questioning the credibility of the ‘No Vote’ campaigners amidst the controversy of Christine Rankin and the ambiguous wording of the question, which has now backfired on the instigators of the referendum.

It amazes me how desperate the ‘no vote’ campaign has come. Their claims of ‘parents being criminalised’ are seriously miss-leading and it makes my stomach turn to think of the children in these situations.

The stories are all about parents who have been made out to be good, loving and caring. What disgusts me is the absolute belief from these campaigners that the cases all represent good parental discipline!

Not only that, I also notice stories, which supposedly headlining their campaign, now having been removed from the No Vote website. They are now very difficult to find. Consequently, I believe the public have realised these stories have no credibility and that the parents were never criminalised for them.

The past few weeks have seen the opposition get weaker and weaker from Larry Baldock getting absolutely toasted in an interview by Sean Plunket, to John Key and Phil Goff declaring they aren’t interested in the referendum and the general public supporting the child discipline law.

Let’s face it, if this law wasn’t working parents would know about it. Good parents would be getting thrown behind bars and our friends and whanau would be living in complete fear.

Christine Rankin’s pathetic fear tactics haven’t fooled many and have simply caused more controversy about her position as a families commissioner rather than the actual content of the article.

I strongly believe it’s time the opposition threw in the towel and just gave up. Every day New Zealanders have adapted to our zero tolerance of violence in the home and our leaders are all indicating there won’t be a change in the law. The question means that the answer you give can never clearly represent your views on the issue and will have no direct impact on the government’s decision to keep the law in its current form.

  • Johny O’Donnell, youth advocate for the Child Discipline Law, chairperson Students Against Violence

Prime Minister commits to action on child abuse

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.”

Jan Pryor: Community agencies value the Families Commission

June 2, 2009

The appointment of Christine Rankin to the Board of the Families Commission has put the spotlight on the work of The Families Commission, particularly our support for the new child discipline law.

The renewed debate on physical punishment shows how poorly the intent and purpose of the new law has been communicated to the public. I was surprised last week to hear a prominent lawyer (among others) say that the new child discipline law had not stopped child abuse. Simply making it illegal to break and enter a home doesn’t stop burglaries and no one expects it to. So it’s puzzling that there is an expectation that one law, on its own, will stop child abuse.

The repeal of Section 59 is part of a whole-of-society effort that is underway to reduce and prevent family violence. A lot of this is focused on building understanding about family violence and changing attitudes so people are less tolerant and more likely to seek help, or report incidents of violence. Some of this is being done through the It’s Not OK campaign, which was developed with the Families Commission leadership, funding and research in partnership with community organisations and other government agencies. The White Ribbon Day campaign is another of the Commission’s projects which is helping to change attitudes toward violence in families.

In an act of courage and leadership Parliament made sure our assault law was consistent with this work and gave children the same protection that was given to their parents. Now, when a parent is charged with assault, there is no longer a legal defence that the parent was using ‘reasonable force’ to discipline the child.

It’s a law that is working well in combination with the other work that is being done. Last week, a Christchurch father who punched his four year old son in the face and flicked his ear was found guilty of assault. The father’s lawyer told the court he was using reasonable force to discipline his son, but this is no longer a defence. The man’s yelling and abusive behaviour had caught the attention of passers by who were concerned enough to report the incident. Their willingness to step forward on behalf of the child is part of a new trend resulting from the It’s Not OK campaign. Research shows that one in five people who have seen the television advertisements have taken some sort of action because they were concerned about their behaviour or the behaviour of someone else. Our belief is that as intolerance grows, more and more people will speak up when they see or hear violent and abusive behaviour within families. It is this sort of action that will make it less likely that another Nia Glassie will die.

Last week, a Christchurch Press columnist criticised the research done by the Commission. He used our recent report on the difficulties shift-working parents have in managing childcare to illustrate his point of view. He felt that the information from these families was simply a statement of what the public already knew. Far from it. This was a small study done within the context of a much bigger project that looks at just what it is that families need in the way of child care services. By drilling down and doing intensive interviews with a range of families we are able to determine patterns of need, whether people’s arrangements work and what would they prefer in the way of support. The resulting information, along with our analysis, is now being made available to government and service providers and should, in time, result in services and support being much more targeted. This in turn should lead to more efficient use and delivery of resources. That’s the thing about research. It provides facts on which to base decisions and services, rather than opinion and anecdotes.

One of the other common statements made about the Commission is that its work could be done by some other government agency. That may be partly true of some of our research so we are careful to make sure we don’t duplicate the work of others. But the Comission is unique in that it was specifically set up to advocate for families and to provide independent and impartial advice to government and to other organisations. We are also tasked with taking the resilience and strengths of families into account in our work rather than focusing on their deficits.

We acknowledge that The Christchurch Press’s columnist is probably not alone in knowing little about the Commission. Our work is often done behind the scenes, in partnership with many other agencies, community organisations and government departments. However I believe a street poll would reveal that the public knows just as little about the work of Internal Affairs or the Ministry of Social Development as it does about the Commission.

But ask any large community agency that works with families who we are and what we do and I am confident you will find they support and value the contribution we are making through our research, information, advice and support.

Jan Pryor is the Chief Commissioner at The Families Commission

Druis Barrett quits the Families Commission in protest

May 14, 2009

Druis Barrett resigned from The Families Commission today in protest at Christine Rankin’s appointment.

In an excellent interview on today’s Morning Report (listen below), she says “I wouldn’t go as far as to say that [Christine Rankin] was racist, but she’s damn well close to it”.  In the same interview, Hone Kaa agrees with her, saying that Rankin’s comments were unhelpful.

The Herald reports that Rankin’s comment that so upset Barrett was “Maori whanau don’t look after their own, and that [they] should be responsible for the many children that are at risk and have been killed”, implying that Māori were doing nothing about the problem.

In fact, groups like Te Kahui Mana Ririki, Save The Children, Barnardos and Plunket have been running Māori led programs to attack these problems for years.

Listen to the Morning Report interview:

Paula Bennett on Christine Rankin: That’s politics!

May 13, 2009

Radio New Zealand’s Parliamentary Chief Reporter Jane Patterson covered the controversy surrounding Christine Rankin’s appointment as a Family Commissioner on Morning Report today, available for your listening pleasure below:

The report includes comments from Phil Goff, Tariana Turia, Peter Dunne, and Jan Pryor.

We think that the responsible minister, Paula Bennett sums it up best in her own words: “Hey, that’s politics!”

Families Commission welcomes new commissioners Christine Rankin and Bruce Pilbrow

May 12, 2009

The Families Commission is looking forward to working with the two newly announced Commissioners, Christine Rankin and Bruce Pilbrow.

They join five other Commissioners on the Board.  Mr Pilbrow will bring with him his strong interest in parenting and we look forward to working with him.  The Commission is also aware of Ms Rankin’s commitment to the prevention of child abuse and shares her concern about this issue.

It was this shared concern that led the Board to its unanimous decision to support the new child discipline law.   We look forward to hearing Ms Rankin’s thoughts on ways to reduce New Zealand’s high rate of family violence and will welcome her input into our future work on this issue.

The law is working well and is achieving what was intended – parents who are charged with assaulting a child can no longer defend themselves in court by claiming they were using reasonable force to discipline the child.

The Commission’s reasons for supporting the law have not changed.

We based our position on research which shows very clearly that positive parenting strategies (such as rewarding good behaviour and distracting young children and ignoring minor unwanted behaviour) are far more effective and safer than physical punishment.  Research also shows that most child abuse cases begin as physical punishment.  There are risks that smacking can escalate to abuse – and the harder a child is hit, the more damaging it is for their future wellbeing. Hitting children also models violence as a way of resolving conflict.

One of the objectives of law reform was to make the law congruent with positive non-violent parenting messages and the law now clearly states that there is no legal justification for the use of force to correct a child’s behaviour.

This is a direct message to parents encouraging them to use strategies for managing their child’s behaviour that do not include smacking or hitting.

It appears that growing numbers of parents understand this.  A Ministry of Health Survey in mid 2007 showed that only 1 in 22 parents considered physical punishment to be effective.  Of the parents who had actually used physical punishment in the previous four weeks only one in three considered it to be effective.

Healthy, positive relationships within families do not involve people hitting each other and the Commission continues to believe that [the enactment of the Child Discipline Law in 2007] was one step that, combined with other nationwide efforts to address violence, will help us become a violence-free society.

Jan Pryor
Chief Commissioner

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

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