Posts Tagged john angus

Children’s Commisioner: Boscawen bill not in childrens’ interests

September 24, 2009

Children’s Commissioner Dr John Angus said today he hoped ACT MP John Boscawen’s private member’s bill did not pass its first reading.

Boscawen’s Crimes (Reasonable Parental Control and Correction) Amendment Bill will essentially put children in a worse position than before the 2007 law change, Dr Angus said. The Bill, if passed, will enshrine a parent or guardian’s right to correct their child’s behaviour in a manner that the parent or guardian considers to be reasonable under the circumstances. This may include inflicting pain on the child.

 “While the wording of this bill talks about the correction not being ‘cruel or degrading’ and says the effect of the hitting must be ‘no more than transitory or trifling’, it reinforces the old law that allowed parents to assault their children and claim a defense of reasonable force,” Dr Angus said.

“I don’t believe that finding ways to define when and how children might be hit, at what age and what with, for purposes of correction is in any way connected to the best interests of children.”

Dr Angus said that the young people he had sought advice from want the law to remain as it is.

“Children will be further confused, as they are by smacking itself. And the growing number of parents who are working hard to bring up their children in ways that do not involve hitting will feel sold out. Many New Zealanders will find the discussion distasteful.

“One thing is for sure: it will not end a debate that has already distracted us from some important issues about children’s wellbeing.

“I would rather see our time taken up with debating the nature of the relationships we have with children as parents, aunts and uncles, grandparents, teachers and community members. Those relationships shape our children’s futures. We should put our energy into how well we are bringing up our children, rather than into the rules around a very narrow and problematic behaviour – physical punishment.

“The changes to Section 59 in 2007 were a line in the sand, a signal that violence against children is not OK. When New Zealand changed the law we joined 25 countries across the world that have a legal ban on the use of physical punishment with children. Some of those countries banned hitting children more than 30 years ago and have very low rates of child abuse. We were the first English speaking country to pass such a law and reversing that would bring international incredulity.

“It is time to move on and engage in public debate about our attitudes towards children and young people, rather than how we can best punish them”

Audio: John Angus and Katrina McLennan discuss the need to retain the Child Discipline Law

August 24, 2009

Children’s Commissioner John Angus and Family Court lawyer Katrina McLennan were intereviewed on Morning Report today.  Key points:

  • The legislation is working well for children and parents
  • We’re not seeing lots of parents being investigated and dragged before the courts
  • The law has given assurance to children and says that violence against children is totally unacceptable, that they should be protected from assault the same as anyone else
  • The law has given legitimacy and reinforced bystanders getting involved where they see a parent assaulting their child, as in the Jimmy Mason case
  • The law will not end child abuse in NZ overnight, but it’s an important first step
  • Allowing smacking sends a message that violence is acceptable
  • The Police and Child Youth and Family are not unduly targeting parents

Katrina asks, is this about protecting children or protecting parents? Which is more important?

To us, the choice seems clear.

Listen to the Audio:

New Children’s Commissioner John Angus supports the Child Discipline Law

June 10, 2009

New Children’s Commissioner John Angus backs the current Child Discipline Law in today’s Herald saying:

I think the law as it currently stands is satisfactory and is a good piece of law for the children of New Zealand.

Dr Angus said he supported the new law because vulnerable children should get the same legal protection against assault as adults, and because smacking was not usually a consistent or effective form of discipline.

Significantly, Paula Bennett chimes in:

The Government’s position on this legislation is clear – that should good parents be convicted for a light smack, we would look at changing the law, but so far we have seen no evidence that the law is not working.

We wouldn’t want you to consider this information out of context – we encourage you to read the whole article.

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

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