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Where do we, as parents, stand with the new amendment to section 59?.

Posted by watchingcyfswatchnewzealand on May 4, 2007

As posted on CYFSWATCH NZ

Where do we, as parents, stand with the new amendment to section 59?.
Thursday, 03.05.2007, 07:43pm (GMT12)

Where do we, as parents, stand with the new amendment to section 59?I’m Sheryl Savil, the author of the CIR initiated referendum and I think it’s time to hear from a parent on one of the most controversial laws to affect parents in this countryFar from bringing a clear answer to this debate, the new Section 59 amendment creates confusion and many unanswered questions for parents in
New Zealand
 If we smack our children we will be breaking the law…or will we? According to the wording of the new bill, a parent is justified in using force if they are performing the normal daily tasks that are incidental to good care and parenting. This is then negated by the wording, “Nothing [in the above] or in any rule of common law justifies the use of force for the purpose of correction.” What is good care and parenting if it does not involve correction?  The government doesn’t seem to find a way to solve the smacking debate. As a mother as well as the Programmes Administrator at
Focus on the Family NZ, I feel strongly that the answer is not state legislation but parent education.
This bill’s unclear wording suggests that parents are justified in using force if the force reasonably prevents the child from engaging in conduct that amounts to a criminal offence, yet criminalizes parents who smack as a form of correction.   I am confused by a proposed law that implies that it is okay to break the law sometimes, but not others.  How does a bill like this set an example for our children: It’s okay to misbehave but only during certain, undefined times.There are many unanswered questions this law presents.  Although the intent is to give Police discretion, what does that mean?  And how will it actually work? What role will CYFS have in all of this? Will they still have the power to come into our homes and remove our children if they suspect that smacking has been used to correct offensive or disruptive behavior?The original intent of Sue Bradford’s bill was to “abolish the use of reasonable force by parents as justification for disciplining children.” Her reasoning was that smacking was child abuse. As a nation we agree that there is an unacceptable level of child abuse. However, as this proposed bill’s momentum increases, it appears now more than ever that her real intention was to define and restrict the role of the parent.
Focus on the Family New Zealand believe so strongly in empowering, educating and equipping parents in their role of growing great kids, that we feel it’s the right time to release a wonderful resource that will give parents the best possible tools in the area of discipline. Dr James Dobson’s “Essentials of DISCIPLINE” covers such points as ‘What’s OK, What’s Not and What Works’. As parents, I BELIEVE THAT it is still important that we have our voice heard against the majority of MP’s who have voted for this new amendment to the Bill. The petition calling for a referendum at the next election is still needed.  I urge everyone to continue collecting signatures for both petitions. And if you want clear answers, the
Focus on the Family on-line resource center would be a great place to start.

Sheryl Savill

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