Posts Tagged deborah morris-travers

Deborah Morris-Travers on the cost of child abuse on TVNZ Breakfast

August 24, 2009

Deborah Morris-Travers appeared on TVNZ Breakfast this morning to discuss new research that child abuse costs New Zealand over $2 billion per year.

Watch the video.

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.

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.

Deborah Morris-Travers comments on the Sunday show’s portrayal of her childhood and the smacking issue

August 12, 2009

Some months ago Sunday reporter Simon Mercep interviewed Jimmy Mason, the Christchurch father convicted for punching his son in the face. Following the show Sunday received a lot of correspondence and decided to interview more people about their experiences of physical punishment.

The Sunday programme for 9 August carried interviews with my family, and also with Simon Barnett.

In the telling of my story, as a child growing up in the 1970s, I related the strict and, at times, harsh physical punishment we received as a child. My parents talked about an era in which there was little information or support available for parents and they did what they thought was right at the time.

In my interview with Sunday, I noted that my older sister, in particular, had experienced a lot of physical punishment and that this had undermined her self-esteem, her confidence and sense of place in the family.

On one particular occasion I rang 111 and spoke to the operator about needing the Police to help my sister. The beating that was taking place ended so I told the operator I no longer needed help. I tried hanging up but discovered the operator was still there asking if everything was okay!

As a 9 year old this wasn’t something I could tell my parents about. It wasn’t until recently that we discussed it. My mother remembers the incident of physical punishment that prompted my call to the Police even though she hadn’t know that I had taken that action.

It is my belief that the anger my sister experienced contributed to her alienation from the family in her early teens, leading her to put herself in risky situations and then leave home at age 15. She later became a parent at 17 and had another child at 20. She went on to use physical punishment with her children.

Throughout her life it was clear that she carried with her anxiety and depression. Central to the story my family sought to tell was the important message that while the circumstances leading to her death were complex, being hit did not help build the resilience, confidence or resourcefulness she would need in adulthood. It undermined her sense of well-being.

As I have reflected on her childhood and teen years I have been struck by the similarity of her experience with the international evidence about the harms of physical punishment, including the potential for:

  • Aggression and delinquency
  • Poor mental health and poor self esteem
  • Learning difficulties
  • Relationship difficulties
  • Criminal and antisocial behaviour
  • Risk of victimisation of more serious abuse

When I have spoken with my parents about all of this they have been clear that as time went on they did start learning new ways to discipline us. This is why, as the middle child, I received less physical punishment than my sister – who was 5 years older than me.

For me, physical punishment put a great deal of pressure on my relationship with my parents. It made me angry and resentful. I didn’t trust them or respect them. Nevertheless, I was lucky to be a lot more resilient than my sister.

In recent years, partly due to the work I’m doing, we’ve had the opportunity to talk these things through as a family. My parents have related the role of the evangelical Church in promoting the physical punishment of children, they have apologised and we’ve moved on.

My parents have spoken with me about having learned that they could actually reason with us as children. The great thing is that now, as Grandparents, they understand the power of positive parenting and the numerous, non-violent, strategies they can use with children in their care.

And, as a parent now myself I am adamant that hitting children is unnecessary and unacceptable. I am convinced that families can change and we can break the cycle!

On this, it was interesting watching the show on Sunday night, hearing Simon Barnett’s assertion that he didn’t smack in anger, but one of his daughters saying her Dad was angry. It is common for parents to downplay their level of anger when they resort to physical punishment.

It was also worth noting that Simon admitted that hitting his youngest daughter didn’t work. This is what many New Zealand parents are discovering and it is hopefully what Simon’s older daughters will realise when they become parents themselves.

Of course, during the course of filming the Sunday show we had lengthy interviews with Simon Mercep about all of the issues involved, about the positive parenting strategies we employ with my 4 year old daughter, about the law and children’s right to have the same legal protection as all other citizens, and about the need for a YES vote in the referendum. I was disappointed that there wasn’t more discussion on the show about the techniques we use instead of hitting.

The nature of TV shows such as this is that time constraints mean the editing is heavy and viewers get just a snippet of information – and of course it’s the most sensational bits!

We have received dozens of supportive emails in recent days, many of which have referred to the lasting anxiety and depression caused by childhood punishment experiences.

Thanks to everyone for their support. Reflecting on what was supposedly an ‘average 1970s childhood’ wasn’t all that easy. I’m pleased to be parenting in a new era of awareness about how to do things differently!

Audio: Mike Hosking, Deborah Morris-Travers, and Bob McCoskrie on Newstalk ZB

July 29, 2009

Deborah runs circles round Bob:

Video: Save The Children NZ CEO Philip Abraham – children have the same rights to protection against violence as adults

July 29, 2009

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Video: Vote Yes with Sue Bradford and Deborah Morris-Travers

July 29, 2009

Sue Bradford and Deborah Morris-Travers explain why it’s important to vote YES in the referendum.

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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.

Police statistics confirm child discipline law protects children who need it most

July 10, 2009

The latest six-monthly Police statistics confirm that the public can have confidence in the child discipline law and the way it is being administered.

“The statistics released today show that Police have prosecuted fewer cases of smacking and minor physical discipline in the past six months, but more cases of other child assault.  In all cases, Police advise that they have only taken action because of the range of circumstances combining to place children at risk.  As such, the law is protecting those who need it most and this is positive news,” said Deborah Morris-Travers, spokesperson for the Yes Vote coalition.

These figures continue to demonstrate that Police are exercising the discretion affirmed in the law.  While the law grants children the same legal protections as all other citizens have, Police are not prosecuting parents who lightly or occasionally smack their child.  The legal opinion from the Human Rights Commission released this confirms the law is a necessary statute and is working well.

“Importantly, the law is consistent with government and community efforts to support parents to do their best for their children through the use of positive, non-violent, parenting techniques.

“The statistics released today affirm what members of the Yes Vote coalition have said many times … the child discipline law is working well and parents have nothing to fear.  This is yet another good reason to vote YES in the upcoming referendum,” concluded Ms Morris-Travers.

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

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