INDEPENDENT NEWS

Smacking Review No Measure

Published: Fri 21 Dec 2007 11:09 AM
Smacking Review No Measure
www.thefamilyparty.org.nz
The Family Party says a review depicting low numbers of smacking related incidents over three months since the anti-smacking law came into affect is not necessarily a measure of the impact the controvercial law is having on New Zealand families.
The three-month review found police issued nine warnings to parents who have smacked their kids after attending 15 cases of reported smacking. The 15 cases were determined not to be in the public interest to prosecute and warnings were given out in nine cases. Two cases were referred to family violence coordinators, four were referred to Child, Youth and Family, three were referred to inter-agency case management meetings and one was referred to Family Works for family support.
Family Party leader Richard Lewis says while reported incidents don’t appear to be high, there is a genuine sense of concern amongst parents who fear unwarranted state intervention if they smack their children in circumstances that would have formerly been considered reasonable and acceptable.
“Based on this report, there are a number of families now experiencing different levels of state intervention because they have come to the attention of the police. What the report wont show is the general sense of disempowerment and vulnerability that many parents are feeling in their homes. What’s worse is that there is no longer a ‘last line of defence’ for responsible parents facing allegations of assault in the home. The irony is, section 59 would not have protected individuals who have used excessive force. The difference is police have become judge and jury, which is not fair on them and is not necessarily comforting for parents,” says Mr Lewis.
He says that those parents who had been warned would likely face prosecution if they came to the attention of the police again under similar circumstances. He also referred to a recent survey that revealed three-quarters of parents smacked; meaning the future risk of a parent being unfairly incriminated was high (Christchurch Health and Development Study).
“Despite the outcome of this review, the principle remains that the overwhelming majority of kiwi parents opposed the section 59 amendment but it was rammed through anyway, in a manner that has come to characterise this government. So any reports to justify their heavy-handed approach to New Zealand families are hardly going to be taken seriously,” he added.
ENDS

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