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Bradford grilled on anti-smacking Bill: and is found wanting.

Posted by watchingcyfswatchnewzealand on March 23, 2007

As posted on CYFSWATCH NZ

Bradford grilled on anti-smacking Bill: and is found wanting.
Friday, 23.03.2007, 01:49pm (GMT12)

Bradford Grilled on Anti-Smacking U-Turn Bill

Media Release – Political Comment: For Immediate Release…..

The Society for Promotion of Community Standards Inc.
P.O. Box 13-683 Johnsonville
www.spcs.org.nz

Press Release
23 March 2007

Bradford Grilled on Anti-Smacking U-Turn Bill

OPEN LETTER TO MS SUE BRADFORD MP AND HER RESPONSES

QUESTIONS TO GREEN MP SUE BRADFORD
dealing with Repeal of s. 59 that is opposed by 80% – 90% of New Zealanders polled.

Question: 1
On the Agenda programme (see reference below) Sue Bradford MP stated:
“It’s actually illegal now to smack your child”.
Would Ms Bradford kindly clarify why this statement is correct and true in view of the justification granted in law (s. 59 of the Crimes Act 1961) for parents and those in the place of parents to use “reasonable force” with their children (including smacking) for the purposes of correction. S 59 is headed “domestic discipline” and does not refer to “smacking” specifically. Agend Link: http://agendatv.itmsconnect.com/Transcript17March2007/tabid/1217/Default.aspx  

BRADFORD’S ANSWER
Assault on a child is a criminal offence under section 194 of the Crimes Act. Section 59 of the Crimes Act provides a justification defence to a charge brought under section 194. That justification is that “Every parent of a child … and every person in the place of the parent of a child is justified in using force by way of correction towards the child, if the force used is reasonable in the circumstances”. The reasonableness of the force used is a question of fact. Whether smacking for the purpose of domestic discipl ine in any particular situation is lawful or unlawful is therefore determined by the particular circumstances. Some smacking is therefore illegal under the current law.

Question 2
Does Ms Bradford consider that it is unlawful for a person to use “reasonable force” to fend off a criminal assaillant in a case in which the victim (the one attacked) considers at the time of the attack, he/she was fending-off the assaillant in self-defence? (see s. 48 of Crimes Act).

BRADFORD’S ANSWER
No, provided the force used is reasonable in the circumstances that the person exercising the force finds themselves in.

Question 3
Does Ms Bradford consider that it is unlawful for a ship’s captain to use reasonable force to subdue dangerous behaviour by an adult passenger on his boat, if he believes that the actions constitute a threat to the safety of the boat and its passengers and crew? (see section 60 of Crimes Act).

BRADFORD’S ANSWER
No, provided that the captain believes the use of force is necessary in the circumstances.

Question 4.
Does Ms Bradford believe that it is unlawful for a parent to apply reasonable force against a child who wilfully acts to put himself/herself in harms way (e.g. lunges towards a hot stove element or into the path of an oncoming train in total disregard of the parent’s verbal instructions)?

BRADFORD’S ANSWER
No, I believe this is already a justification under common law, but have agreed to the insertion of a specific clarification provision in my Bill as reported by the Justice and Electoral Select Committee, in response to assertions by some submitters on the Bill that it may not be so justified.
[We referred Ms Bradford to the Scoop article for her to carefully reflect upon pointing out that dishonesty and deceitfulness are not personal qualities the NZ public tolerate in MPs.]

SOCIETY’S RESPONSE TO MS BRADFORD’S ANSWERS
The Society for Promotion of Community Standards Inc.
23 March 2007

Dear Ms Fran Tyler

Please thank Ms Bradford for the answers she has supplied to the Society’s questions (1-4) re her bill.

However, having studied her answers, we are unable to comprehend how her position can be logically coherent within a legal framework. All our members feel the same way.

Please present to her a few short follow-up questions seeking urgent clarification. We would appreciate her prompt assistance.

Re Queston 1.

If as Ms Bradford stated on TV One’s Agenda programme: “It’s actually illegal now to smack your child” – why has she in responsed to Q 1 by stating: “Some smacking is therefore illegal under the current law.” [Emphasis added]. We believe that it follows logically from the latter statement that some smacking is LEGAL; therefore the Agenda programme comment is inconsistent and misleading to say the least.

Questions: seeking clarification:

(i) How does Ms Bradford reconcile the apparent inconsistency between her two statements quoted and

(ii) what forms of smacking does she consider legal under the current Crimes Act?

(iii) Is it the smacking that is legal under current law or that which is illegal under current law that her bill intends to make illegal, or is it both forms?

(iv) Does Ms Bradford consider that it is unlawful under current law for a parent or person in the place of a parent to use “reasonable force” in the context of domestic discipline, for the purpose of correcting a child who exhibits extreme defiance and/or disobedience despite a number of clearly defined warnings to desist from wrong behaviour (see section 59 of Crimes Act)?

(v) Is it the intention in her bill to prevent parents from correcting their children by using ANY actions that involve “reasonable force” in the circumstances? (vi) If so why, and why particularly has she sought to make illegal the use of ALL forms of force for correction carried out by the parent to achieve compliance from the disobediant/defiant child?

Re. Qs 2-3

(vi) In the light of Ms Bradford’s negative answers concerning the lawful use of “reasonable force” in self-defence (s. 48) and by ship’s captains (s. 60), which we accept as correct; why did she state on Agenda “It’s actually illegal now to smack your child” when she knew full well that this is untruthful (s. s. 59) and has now done a U-turn on by stating: “Some smacking is therefore illegal under the current law.” (see above)? [Note the “reasonable force” defence provisions in s. 59, 60 and 48 serve the same purposes in protected those who use the force and those subject to the force].

Re Q. 4.

(vii) Ms Bradford agreed to amendments to her bill which she now admits she did not feel were necessary, but agreed to in order to alleviate some doubts by some submitters – as she puts it “assertions by some submitters on the Bill that it [use of reasonable force for removing kids from harms waty etc.] may not be so justified”. In the light of these concessions to submitters, why is she opposed to a clarification of s. 59 (the Borrows amendment) so that judges can point jury members to a clearer definition of “reasonable force” as it applies to actions taken by parents in corrective discipline on children?

Yours sincerely

David Lane
Secretary
Society for Promotion of community Standards Inc.

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