Posts Tagged ministry of social development

SKIP: What it is and why it works

May 19, 2010

The Ministry of Social Development have recently published this attractive and readable report called SKIP: What it is and why it works based on research into the SKIP (Strategies with Kids: Information for Parents) initiative.

The report is a valuable source of information about community based delivery of positive parenting messages utilising a variety of approaches with an emphasis on relationships, innovation, universality and community development. It identifies factors contributing to the effectiveness of the SKIP approach as well as the impact it has on children, parents and caregivers, communities and organisations.

In 2001 Cabinet agreed that there was a need of public education about alternatives to the use of physical discipline with children. Originally a public education campaign was envisaged but the strategy was revised and SKIP was born in 2003. It had three components:

  • The development of national parenting resources
  • Partnerships with national organisations delivering positive parenting messages
  • A contestable Local Initiative Fund (LIF) that supported local community projects.

SKIP has been a very successful initiative and the LIF has enabled the development of many creative, innovative and locally inspired success stories.

Read more about SKIP at www.skip.org.nz, or download the report (PDF).

Physical punishment of children and the Child Discipline Law

November 16, 2009

Support for the 2007 law remains strong among those that understand how well children in New Zealand will be served in the long term by the repeal of the old section 59 Crimes Act 1961.  As the recent report from the Ministry of Social Development has shown there has been no increase in prosecutions for minor assaults on children since the law change but there seems an increased willingness to report more serious assaults on children.

It is also likely that the law is already contributing (along with information about positive parenting) to a social change away from use of smacking and hitting,    International evidence against the use of physical punishment continues to grow.   Calls from activities opposed to the 2007 law change do not reflect such evidence and the “March for Democracy” is their latest expensive move to apply pressure on politicians to turn back clock and send a message intentionally or unintentionally that physical punishment is a acceptable form of child discipline.

EPOCH NZ have produced a paper reviewing the law in light of recent research and the referendum.

The paper asks:

  • what is the evidence against use of physical punishment?
  • how is the 2007 law working?
  • who supports the 2007 law and who opposes it?
  • how will the safety and wellbeing of New Zealand children be best served now?

The answers to these questions form the basis for the following recommendations:

1.    Keep the law as it is: Children in New Zealand will be very well served over time if the Government stays strong in its resolve not to re-introduce a statutory defence into section 59 Crimes Act 1961.

2.    Provide information about the law and positive, non-violent discipline of children: There is an ongoing need for the dissemination of well-researched and supportive information about:

  • the law and its value
  • how the law is working in practice
  • positive non-physical discipline of children.

3.    Monitor the law and research its effects: The application of the child discipline law should continue to be monitored both to ensure that parents are not investigated and/or prosecuted when these actions are unhelpful and to track attitudinal and behavioural changes and the safety and wellbeing of children over time.

4.    Deal with any changes needed through policy and procedures: If inadequacies are found in the way the law is being applied then further protections should be developed without changing the law.  Such protections should support family functioning but at the same time not encourage the use of physical discipline by implying that it is okay.

Download the paper, Physical Punishment of Children and the Child Discipline Law.

Video: John Key’s press conference on the Child Discipline Law

August 24, 2009

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/kP2b3DFEFaE" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Key points:

  • Parents will not be criminalised for lightly smacking their children
  • Police and MSD Chief Execs will lead a review of policies to identify any changes necessary or desirable to ensure that good parents are treated as parliament intended, to report back by 1 December 2009.
  • The official review of the Child Discipline Law will be moved forward to late September or early October
  • Police will continue to report on the law for the next three years, and specifically include data on where the parents believed that the force used was reasonable in the circumstances.  If parents are truly being criminalised for lightly smacking their children, Parliament will have to look at changing the law.

Social Policy Journal addresses child discipline issues

May 11, 2009

Two articles published in a recent issue of the Social Policy Journal of New Zealand (Issue 34, July 2008) will be of interest to people concerned about child discipline issues.

The first article, Just who do we think Children are? New Zealanders’ Attitudes about Children, Childhood and Parenting: An Analysis of Submissions on the Bill to Repeal Section 59 of the Crimes Act 1961, is by Sophie Debski, Sue Buckley and Marie Russell. The researchers analysed a sample of the submissions to Parliament on the bill to repeal section 59 of the Crimes Act 1961, and used two known social viewpoints of children. In one viewpoint, childhood is seen as a phase of development and children are regarded as unable to reason and in need of constant guidance from adults – in other words, they are seen as “human becomings”. In the second viewpoint children are seen as full human beings entitled to full human rights and capable of contributing positively to society at all stages of their development – in other words, children are seen as “human beings”.

The researchers found that submitters to the select committee who saw children as “human beings” were more likely to support the 2007 law change than those that regarded children as “human becomings”.

The second article by Julie Lawrence and Anne Smith, A place where it’s not ok to hit children, looks at how professionals approach the task of communicating, guiding and advising families with young children about disciplinary issues. They found that parents sought advice on discipline, and that most professionals disagreed with the use of physical discipline but expressed caution about telling parents that they thought smacking was harmful. The research was conducted before the law change and it is possible that professionals now have an added challenge – how to tell parents about the law change.

A major implication of both these pieces of research is the need to continue to raise public awareness about child development, positive child discipline and the law.

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

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