Posts Tagged police

Sunday documentary trivialises the need for legal protection for children

May 24, 2009

TVNZ’s Sunday portrayal of Jimmy Mason’s violent assault against his four-year-old son highlights the importance of the new law that shifts the norm so that force is no longer an acceptable or expected part of parenting, and gives children the same legal protection as other citizens. The child discipline law also ensures that parents are not able to claim a defence for assaulting a child.

The child discipline law is working if it means parents who punch, or otherwise seriously assault their child are found guilty. That is what happened in this case, according to the findings of the jury who heard all of the evidence in the Mason case.

Sunday chose to side with the Mason family. The jury chose to side with the evidence and the right of children not to be assaulted by a parent.

The purpose of the law is to allow children to live free from violence by abolishing the use of force for the purposes of correction. However, parents may use force such as restraint to prevent harm to a child. Preventing harm does not justify the use of violence. Even when parents are in “angry parent mode” there are always better ways than using violence and children will get the message better if they are communicated with in a clear, calm manner without being yelled and sworn at.

Children are let down by a society that doesn’t respond to concerns about their safety so the witnesses who saw Mason’s anger and violence did the right thing by reporting his behaviour and testifying about what they saw. It is essential that adults be prepared to speak out if they see a child being abused or have concerns about a child’s safety.

Violence teaches children that violence is okay, and it undermines a child’s physical and mental health. Jimmy Mason appears not to understand that his actions in anger put his child in danger physically and emotionally.

The child discipline law has not criminalised all parents. Police are closely monitoring the implementation of the law. Statistics show they are exercising discretion and only prosecuting serious assaults on children. Any suggestion that parents are being criminalised unnecessarily is nonsense.

If you saw the programme and were as disappointed as we were, please email them at Sunday@tvnz.co.nz

For our children’s sake, let’s be fair and sensible

April 30, 2009

A coalition of organisations committed to positive outcomes for children and families wishes to set the record straight regarding the child discipline law.

After much debate and consideration of opinion and international evidence, this law was passed by both Labour and National and came into effect in May 2007.

It’s time the nation got the straight story on what the law does and doesn’t say, and how it is being used. The law is both fair and sensible.

It clearly states that parents can restrain or physically remove children from a situation to keep them or another safe from harm and to prevent them from engaging in any criminal, offensive or disruptive behaviour.

Parents can, of course, also perform the normal daily tasks that are part of good care and parenting, such as carrying a child to their room at bedtime, even if they protest; or holding them back from running onto the road; and enforcing boundaries, such as stopping them from hurting another person or an animal, shouting in a restaurant; and other disruptive behaviour.  Fair and sensible.

It does not allow the use of force for the purpose of correction. Children and adults now have equal protection under the law from all forms of assault. Fair at last.

It also clearly states that the police are not expected to prosecute in cases where assaults are very minor. Police monitoring of their activity in this area shows no significant increase in complaints, investigations or prosecutions. This information is on the police website for anyone to read and parents can be reassured. Again, fair and sensible.

So, physical punishment is out, positive parenting is in. Love, warmth, guidance, encouragement, clear boundaries – these are the parenting strategies that work and that support children so they know what is expected of them, what the rules are, and at the same time they feel valued and loved.

So let’s clear up the confusion. Let’s be fair and sensible and simply get on with supporting each other to love and nurture our children.

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

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