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What’s it all about ?. Section 59 of the Crimes Act - the new child discipline law. Amendment of Section 59 of the Crimes Act. This presentation updates people on New Zealand’s new law banning physical punishment of children. It is an overview with some discussion points.

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What s it all about

What’s it all about?

Section 59 of the Crimes Act -

the new child discipline law

Prepared by Barbara Lambourn UNICEF NZ April 2009


Amendment of section 59 of the crimes act

Amendment of Section 59 of the Crimes Act.

  • This presentation updates people on New Zealand’s new law banning physical punishment of children.

  • It is an overview with some discussion points.

  • It refers to the referendum to be conducted in July/August

Prepared by UNICEF NZ April 2009


16 may 2007

16 May 2007

  • Parliament passed the Crimes (Substituted Section 59) Amendment Act.

  • Huge majority supported the passing of the Bill - with 113 MPs in favour, 8 opposed.

  • Bill came into force on 21 June 2007.

Prepared by UNICEF NZ April 2009


The crimes substituted section 59 amendment act

The Crimes (Substituted Section 59) Amendment Act

The Bill removed what had been a defence in law for parents using:

“force by way of correction towards the child, if the force used is reasonable in the circumstances”

Section 59 had allowed parents to defend using physical punishment if it was judged “reasonable”.

Prepared by UNICEF NZ April 2009


The amendment

The amendment

  • The purpose statement of the new S.59 stated “…to make better provision for children to live in a safe and secure environment free from violence by abolishing the use of parental force for the purpose of correction”.

  • It banned physical punishment/correction.

  • Adults who need to restrain a child to keep it, or other people, safe are protected from prosecution.

Prepared by UNICEF NZ April 2009


The amendment continued

The amendment continued…

  • Gives Police discretion not to prosecute when the assault is seen as trivial or having little impact (as in any other assault).

  • It provides for a review of the effectiveness and impact of the law to take place after 2 years (late 2009).

Prepared by UNICEF NZ April 2009


Some but not all supporters of repeal included

Some, but not all, supporters of repeal included…

  • Commissioner for Children, Families Commission, Human Rights Commission

  • Children’s Issues Centre, Institute for Public Policy at AUT, Waikato Law School, Association of Social Workers, Youth Law, NZ Assoc of Counsellors

  • Plunket, Barnardos, Public Health Assoc, Paediatric Society, Unicef, Save the Children, Amnesty International, Birthright, La Leche League, Family Planning Assoc, Parents Centre, NZ Childcare Assoc, Playcentre, Relationship Services, National Network for Stopping Violence, Jigsaw

  • Porirua, Auckland, Manukau and Waitakere Councils

  • The Body Shop

  • Te Whare Hauora O Ngongotaha/James Family/Presbyterian Support

  • Anglican Church – Maori and non-Maori, Nat.Council of Young Catholics

  • National Council of Women, Maori Women’s Welfare League, Pacifica, Women's Refuge

  • …………………and many, many more organisations and individuals

Prepared by UNICEF NZ April 2009


Why support the law change

Why support the law change?

  • Children’s right to be protected from assault within their families is now supported by law.

  • Physical punishment is only effective in the short term.

  • Children often do not understand why they are being hit and are confused when someone who loves them hurts them.

Prepared by UNICEF NZ April 2009


Hitting can cause injury

Hitting can cause injury

  • Most injuries to children by their parents/caregivers begin as “correction”, “punishment” or “discipline”

    “I only wanted to teach him a lesson”

  • As parents rely on physical punishment it may increase in severity and the risk of injury escalates.

  • Hitting children can have a damaging effect on brain development and emotional development.

Prepared by UNICEF NZ April 2009


Hitting can cause damage

Hitting can cause damage

  • More and more evidence is linking physical punishment with later problems:

    • Aggression and delinquency

    • Poor mental health and poor self esteem

    • Learning difficulties

    • Relationship difficulties

    • Criminal and antisocial behaviour

    • Risk of victimisation of more serious abuse

Prepared by UNICEF NZ April 2009


Hitting is not effective

Hitting is not effective

  • Physical punishment is only likely to be effective in the very short term. It does not help children to learn good behaviour

  • It is not necessary to hit or otherwise hurt children to help them to learn to behave well – Playcentre, which is 60 years old, has a no-hitting philosophy.

  • Positive parenting and constructive discipline is more effective in the long term.

Prepared by UNICEF NZ April 2009


Hitting children gives a wrong message

Hitting children gives a wrong message

  • Hitting a child sends the message that hitting others is acceptable – children are likely to repeat the behaviour.

  • Physical assault of adults in the home, in the military, in prisons, elderly care or other institutions is not allowed. Children are valued citizens and entitled to the same protection.

Prepared by UNICEF NZ April 2009


Since the law was changed

Since the law was changed

  • No parents have been charged for any trivial offences.

  • The defence of “reasonable force” is no longer permitted – child abuse can no longer be defended as “correction”.

  • Police and major party leaders have said that they believe that the law is working.

Prepared by UNICEF NZ April 2009


The referendum

The referendum

Groups opposing the law and believing that New Zealanders should be allowed to keep hitting children have forced a referendum on the issue – to be held in late July 2009, by postal ballot.

  • You will be asked to say Yes or No to the question

Prepared by UNICEF NZ April 2009


The question

The question

Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?”

  • It’s tricky

  • Say NO….and we could have the same situation as before and the terrible instances of violence that were excused under the old Section 59 defence.

Prepared by UNICEF NZ April 2009


Say yes

Say YES

Say Yes – and you are making a statement to support the law.

  • Police use discretion if a smack is not seen as serious so small offences will not make parents into criminals

  • http//:yesvote.org.nz has facts, information and commentary

Prepared by UNICEF NZ April 2009


Children are unbeatable 7 very good reasons not to hit children

Children are Unbeatable: 7 VERY GOOD REASONS NOT TO HIT CHILDREN

  • Written by Rhonda Pritchard in 2006 puts the case for not using physical punishment, gives reasons, lists studies and describes principles of positive, constructive discipline.

  • Available free from UNICEF NZ

    Email: [email protected] Phone: 0800 243 576

    Download the pdf from www.unicef.org.nz

Prepared by UNICEF NZ April 2009


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