Hate Speech targets the Family Court

Published: Mon 17 Dec 2007 02:15 PM
Hate Speech targets the Family Court
The Family Party is raising concerns over a Ministry of Justice discussion paper that suggests widening Family Court powers to penalise parents faced with allegations of ‘psychological abuse’ against their children.
Parents could be instantly banned from any contact with their children for months at a time under new proposals to allow claims of psychological abuse to be treated in the same way as allegations of violence in family breakdowns.
“We are getting into very dangerous territory when relying solely on the subjective mind of a child to determine the criminal liability of a parent. Acts of violence against children are fairly easy to establish because the evidence is usually obvious. But to take action against a parent on the basis of how a child ‘thinks’ he or she is being treated puts a parent in a very vulnerable and disempowered position,” Mr Lewis says.
He likens the proposal to the anti-smacking bill, which effectively undermined parental authority in the home and placed ordinary kiwi families at significant risk of unwarranted state intervention; particularly in light of a recent survey that found 77 percent of parents aged 25 had smacked their children. (Christchurch Health and Development Study)
Mr Lewis questions how the Court will determine the difference between psychological abuse and responsible parental control. “To a certain extent, this is ‘hate speech’ for kids, whereby parents who offend their children could well find themselves having to answer to the authorities,” he added.

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