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Frightening statement on smacking

Posted by watchingcyfswatchnewzealand on March 24, 2007

Source: Christian News

Frightening statement on smacking
26 July 2005

Rob Robinson
Commissioner of Police
PO Box 3017
Dear Mr Robinson,

Should Section 59 of the Crimes Act be repealed, what assurances can you give to the parents of New Zealand that they will not be charged with assault under Section 194(a) of the Crimes Act if they subsequently were to smack their child(ren) on the clothed buttocks with an open hand by way of corrective discipline?

Yours faithfully,

Craig S. Smith
National Director

Here is the reply is from Dr A. Jack, Legal Services, Office of the Commissioner of Police and is on Police letterhead.

11 August 2005

Mr Craig Smith
National Director Family Integrity
PO Box 9064
Palmerston North
Dear Mr Smith,

On behalf of the Commissioner I am writing in reply to your letter of 26 July 2005 concerning Section 59 of the Crimes Act 1961.

As you will be aware, section 59 of the Crimes Act 1961 authorises parents to use force by way of correction towards their children, if the force used is reasonable in the circumstances. If section 59 was repealed in its entirety parents would not be authorised to use reasonable force by way of correction. Having said this, I am advised that parents would still be authorised to use force to prevent harm to their children. For example, if a parent stopped their child from running out onto a busy road or stopped their child from climbing over a balcony on a building.

However, smacking of a child by way of corrective action would be an assault. I am advised that the Police in investigating such cases, as is the case with all assault investigations, would consider the amount of force used in the circumstances before making a decision about whether a prosecution is required in the public interest. An aggravating factor in any such decision may be the fact that a child is generally more vulnerable than an adult.

I trust this matter clarifies this matter for you.

Yours sincerely,
A Jack (Dr)
NM – Legal Services
Office of the Commissioner

Craig Smith comments:

Dr Jack has clearly stated that smacking definitely will become an assault should S.59 be repealed. The only questions then are whether smacking episodes come to the attention of police and whether the police will press charges when they do. That is, whenever we smack our children, we will be technically guilty of assault against a child, and will live in constant fear of being charged. Can anyone afford the cost, the trauma, the damage to one’s reputation of a child assault trial, even if you are acquitted? In the meantime CYFs, as they do already, will have removed the child from your family and it is not automatic that CYFs gives the child back.

I submit that this is a very real and very dangerous threat to our freedom to parent our own children according to the dictates of our own consciences. We cannot let it go unchallenged. We do need to lobby against this anyway we can.

Yours faithfully,

Craig Smith
National Director
Family Integrity
PO Box 9064
Palmerston North
New Zealand
Fax: (06) 357-4389
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