family first media releases
Below are a selection of Family First's media releases regarding the Anti-Smacking Law over the last few years. Click on the title of the summary post to for the full media release.
Recent media releases:
- 4 August 09 PM Incorrect on Smacking Prosecutions
- 3 August 09 Smacking Poll: People v Politicians
- 31 July 09 Voters Not Confused by Referendum
- 25 July 09 Parents Still Flouting Smacking Law And Still Opposing It
- 15 July 09 QC Slams Smacking Law
- 14 july 09 Manukau City Council Hijacks Referendum Debate
- 14 july 09 Cracks in National's Stance on Referendum
Past media releases:
- Smacking Law Complete and Utter Waste of Time
- Yet More Government Funding for Opposing Referendum
- Govt Ignoring Referendum But Still Funding An Answer
- PM May Be Ignoring Referendum But Voters Aren’t
- $9 Million Found To Cover Referendum
- John Key Has the Numbers – And the Proof
- Senior Labour MP Says Referendum Not Confusing
- Referendum Cost Unfortunate Outcome of Political ‘Deafness’
- Challenge to Barnardos To Save $9m on Referendum
- 82% Will Be Voting NO – 76% Want It Binding
- PM Attempting to Shut Down Referendum Debate
- Commission Research on Smacking More Wasted Spending
- ‘Honest’ Report on Child Abuse Welcomed
- Cabinet Minister’s Smacking Law Comments Welcomed
- Smacking Law Prosecutions Published
- Human Rights Comm’n Acknowledges Uncertainty of Anti-Smacking Law
- Smacking Equated with Torture and Death Penalty
- Assault Conviction Appropriate
- Call for Independent Commission of Inquiry into Child Abuse
- Ethnic Groups Confused by Anti-Smacking Law - Study
- Family First Welcomes Goff’s Desire to Amend s59
- Family First Welcomes Bill to Fix Smacking Law
- 83% Still Want Smacking Law Fixed - Poll
- Symptoms Still Ignored as Child Abuse Death Rate Continues
- Child Abuse Death Rate Is Killing Us
- "Govt Should Save $8M on Smacking Referendum
- Anther Child Abuse Death - Same Factors
- Police Confirm Prosecutions For Smacking
- Explosion in CYF Notifications But Missing Abuse
- Children's Commissioner Survey Says Nothing New
- Voters Deliver Verdict on Anti-Smacking Law
- Persecution of Parents To Be Investigated by National
- More Shonky Research on Smacking from Childrens Issues Centre
- More National Candidates Expressing Opposition to Anti-Smacking Law
- Children's Commissioner Misleads Public - Again
- National Adopts 'We Know Better Than You' Attitude
- Bradford Encourages Parents to Carry On Smacking
- Another Smacking Poll - Same Response
- MP Gets Told By Voters to Change Anti-Smacking Law
- Family First Welcomes Comments by Key on Smacking Referendum
- Test of Democracy In Parliament Today
- Family First Slams Govt's Desperate Delay Tactics on Referendum
- NZ’ers Deliver Strong Message on Anti-Smacking Law
- Anti-Smacking Law Wasting CYF Time - Missing Real Abuse
- 87% Of Parents of Young Children Reject Anti-Smacking Bill
- Discredited Anti-Smacking Advocate Back in NZ
- Anti-Smacking Conference At Venue Where Research Contradicts
- Anti-Smacking Law Wasting Valuable CYF Time
- Call for Majority of Parliament to Demand Election Day Referendum
- Substantial Jump in Parents Being Investigated for Smacking
- PM Desparate to Shut Down Smacking Referendum
- Large Stack of Signatures Confirms Referendum at Election
- Opposition to Smacking Law Based on Right to Parent, not Right to Smack
- Bradford Gets It Wrong on Smacking - Again
- Smacking Poll - NZ'ers Don't Want to 'Move on'
- 300,00 More Signatures demanding MP's Get Real on Child Abuse
- Study Shows Child Abuse Rate Affected by Family Structure
- Increase in Abuse of Parents Expected Outcome of Anti-Smacking Law
- Anti-Smacking Law Proved to Criminalise Good Parents
- 600,00 Signatures Demand Smacking and Child Abuse Referendums
- Children's Commissioner Insults Generations of Parents and Grandparents
- Family First Misrepresented by Anti-Smacking Lobby - Again
- Smacking Research Confirms Huge Opposition to Anti-Smacking Law
- 250,000 Signatures Demanding Scrapping of Anti-Smacking Law
- Smacking Study Proves resources need to be Targeted at At-Risk Group
- Original Section 59 Does Its Job
- It's OK to Smack - American College of Pediatricians
- Anti-Smacking Law Wasting Police Resources
- Cabinet Minister Corrects Child With a Smack
- Police Practice Guide for Smacking Law Confirms Worst Fears for Parents
- Smacking Law Rejected by Majority of NZ'ers - 78% will Ignore the Law
- Smacking Law Hits Labour in Polls Because of Inconsistency
- Politicians Treat NZ Parents With Disdain
- "I Was Preventing, Not Correcting, Bad Behaviour Officer!" - Advice to Parents
- Pro-family Groups Seek Public Support for Referendum on Smacking Bill
- MP's to Vote on "Most Extreme Anti-Smacking Law in the World" - Expert
- Family First Calls for Clark and Key to Allow Conscience Vote on Bill
- No Sound Scientific Evidence Supporting Anti-Smacking Bill - Expert
- Bradford continues to mislead the country - and blame the media for it!
- Respected Parenting Website Poll Opposes Bradford 'Anti-Smacking' Bill"
- Cases Prove Child Abuse Not Being Protected by Section 59"
- Polynesian and Maori Students Oppose 'Anti-Smacking Bill
- National Offers No Reassurance to Parents on Bradford Bill
- Prime Minister Labels Good Parents as People who want to "Thrash and Beat" Children
- Only 18% of Kiwis Support 'Anti-Smacking' Bill
- Anti-Smacking Bill now a Labour Bill
- Labour Decision 'Smacks' of Arrogance
- Law Commission Opinion on Smacking Bill Confirms Parents' Fears
- Pacific Island Leaders call on MP's to reject 'anti-smacking' bill
- 'Young Labour' rejects Labour vote on Bradford Bill
- Bradford 'Anti-smacking' Bill Will Result in Children Reporting Parents"
- Call for Pacific Island Groups to oppose Bradford Bill Before Too Late
- Government Admits Every Reported Smacking Will Be Investigated
- 14% Increase in Child Abuse despite Swedish Smacking Ban
- Referendum Expresses Frustration at MP's Avoiding the Real Issues
- 7 More Good Reasons Why We Oppose Anti-Smacking Bill
Family First NZ says that the Prime Minister John Key is incorrect on his claims that there have been no prosecutions under the anti-smacking law.
On TVNZ Breakfast yesterday and again in a press conference, John Key said “To this point, there have been no successful prosecutions under the new law."
“The Prime Minister is wrong. Police reports show that since the anti-smacking law was passed, there have been 13 prosecutions under the anti-smacking law for ‘smacking’ or ‘minor acts of physical discipline’,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. “As well, the number of non-abusive families being investigated with no abuse found was as high as 94% - we are wasting police time and resources.”
Family First NZ says that the latest poll on attitudes to the smacking law is a reminder that the smacking debate is essentially a battle between the huge majority of NZ’ers and the politicians.
“The One News poll shows 83% opposition to the smacking law, consistent with every other poll done both before the law change and in the two years since,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of the Family First NZ.
“But our elected representatives are adopting a ‘we know better than you’ attitude and are refusing to listen to the wishes of the NZ public. This is a disgraceful display of democracy, and shows incredible disrespect.”
“The poll also shows that those who believe that the current law may be working at the moment (25%) still don’t support the law (only 13% voting yes). The government and the police can try to paint a rosy picture on the law but the bottom line is that NZ’ers simply don’t accept it.”
Family First NZ says that the record number of registered voters for the Referendum shows that there is no confusion about the Referendum question.
“Sue Bradford has continued her attack on democracy and Referendums by insulting NZ’ers and saying they’ll vote yes when they mean no and vice versa. But it’s quite simple really – if you oppose the anti-smacking law, vote no – if you support the anti-smacking law, vote yes. What’s hard about that?” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
“Even government funded groups who have attacked the question still have been able to figure out how to vote!”
Family First NZ says that the latest research on parental discipline by Digipoll shows that parents are continuing to flout the law and that the opposition to it remains at its high level.
“Parents are ignoring the law because they simply don’t agree with it and because it is so confusing, but what is most significant in this latest poll is that even parents who choose not to smack are opposed to it being criminalized,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. “More than a 1/3’rd of parents say they never smack yet only 11% believe it should be a criminal offence.”
“On the other hand, 61% of mums and 67% of dads admitted that they are completely ignoring the law despite the potential for investigation, intervention and prosecution by CYF and the police.”
Family First NZ says that an Op-Ed in the Christchurch Press today by Grant Illingworth QC has highlighted a number of legal concerns shared by Family First about the anti-smacking law.
In the article titled “Good Motive, but bad law”, Mr Illingworth QC who specializes in public law says that the antismacking law is an inappropriate response to the problem of child abuse for three reasons - “…the first is that the amendment is an extremely poor piece of legal drafting in that it is calculated to create confusion rather than clarity. The second is that it criminalizes behaviour which should not be classified as a criminal offence. The third is that it fails to provide adequate protection for those whom it was designed to help.”
He also attacks the confusion of the law, which has been confirmed by recent research commissioned by Family First, and says that it “…translates into an absolute rule that you are never allowed to administer even a very mild smack if your purpose is to help a child to learn how to behave. Confused? So am I. And it seems obvious that a law which confuses people is not going to help much in regulating their behaviour.”
Family First NZ says that the Manukau City Council is hijacking the debate on the anti-smacking law.
The Manukau Child Advocacy Group is hosting a so-called ‘discussion’ on the upcoming Referendum on the antismacking law this Tuesday yet they have invited the two leaders of the groups supporting the anti-smacking law but nobody from groups opposing the law and who are calling on people to vote no in the Referendum.
“The is a blatant act of sabotage by the Council and suggests that this discussion is more a ‘lecture’ on how people should think,” says Mr McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ, who has lived in Papatoetoe and Manurewa all his life.
Family First NZ is welcoming comments from Hamilton West MP Tim Macindoe (Waikato Times 13 July) that he will be voting no in the upcoming Referendum and, like Family First, believes that the Chester Borrows amendment is the solution.
“Tim Macindoe joins Cabinet Minister Paula Bennett and other National MP’s who have signaled their support for a change in the law,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. “We even had National MP’s requesting copies of the petition forms demanding the Referendum in the first place.”
“We call on the Prime Minister to test this issue on his Caucus. Virtually all of the National caucus before the election was supporting the Borrows amendment. Our understanding is that the current National Caucus has not been tested on this issue. We believe John Key has the numbers with the support of the ACT party to amend this law so that good parents aren’t criminalized for light smacking for the purpose of correction.”
Family First NZ says that the latest police review of the anti-smacking law shows that the law is a complete and utter waste of time as it fails to catch actual child abuse, wastes police resources and time, and targets nonabusive parents.
“While the country struggles with the problem of the P-drug, violent crime including armed hold-ups, and boy racing which is killing our young people, the police are having to waste time running around investigating parents who use a smack,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
“The prosecution rate for ‘smacking’ and ‘minor acts of physical discipline’ is as low as 5-8% and even ‘other child assaults’ have up to 20% of them only warranting a warning. This report, as with previous reports, continues to confirm that non-abusive parents are being investigated – which we always feared.”
“These results will be trumpeted by the supporters of the law change for doing what? Nothing!”
Family First NZ says that government funded organisations are working and spending overtime pushing the anti-smacking law, attacking the Referendum, and promoting a yes-vote.
“Following on from the Families Commission last week, and ongoing lobbying from the Children’s Commissioner and government-funded groups like Barnardos and Plunket, the latest example is the Human Rights Commission who admitted today that they funded a legal opinion to try to validate their support for the anti-smacking law,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. “They also labeled the Referendum as ‘flawed’ and ‘meaningless’.”
Family First NZ is furious that the Families Commission has used its latest government-funded newsletter to promote the anti-smacking law and a ‘Yes’ vote to keep the law.
In its latest Family Voice which is a 10-page magazine sent out and also available on its website, it dedicates a 2-page spread to an article promoting the anti-smacking law, and linking on its website to other supporters of the Yes-vote including Barnardos, Plunket and lobby groups including EPOCH.
“This makes a complete sham of claims by the government that the Referendum won’t make any difference, yet the law change and an answer to the Referendum is being promoted by a government agency and being paid for by taxpayers,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
“This effectively confirms that the yes-vote campaign is government funded which we always suspected.
Family First NZ is welcoming news from the Electoral Enrolment Centre today that more than 25,000 people have enrolled or updated their enrolment details to take part in the upcoming Referendum on the anti-smacking law.
“This is an average of 2,000 people per day and shows that the Prime Minister may say the Referendum is irrelevant but the voters think otherwise,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
Family First NZ says that Treasury figures reveal that $52 million has been budgeted for social policy advice for the financial year and that only a portion of this is needed to cover the cost of the Referendum.
“The upcoming Referendum is simply an outcome of political deafness but its cost is covered under projected government spending,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
“$52 million has been budgeted for Social Policy Advice under the Social Development Vote, and includes ‘the provision of information to, and discussion for, the public and other agencies on social policy issues’.”
“The anti-smacking law is a massive social issue which has affected the role of parents and the functioning of families. The Referendum will allow the public to finally have a say on this issue after being completely ignored bythe politicians.”
Family First NZ says that the Prime Minister John Key has the numbers to amend the anti-smacking law and prevent a costly Referendum resulting from previous political deafness, and he also has the proof of good parents being prosecuted under the anti-smacking law.
Family First NZ is welcoming comments by a senior Labour MP that the Referendum wording is not confusing.
Family First NZ is not surprised by a poll today that says that 77% of NZ’ers think the Referendum is a waste of money, and says that the government should save the taxpayer $9 million on a postal referendum and simply fix the anti-smacking law now as demanded by 80% of Kiwis.
“It is incredible that in the midst of a recession, the government will be spending that amount of money to tell them what they already know – that the law should be fixed,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
“But that is the unfortunate price of ‘political deafness’. The blame for having to even have a Referendum is pointed fairly and squarely at the politicians. Even supporters of the Referendum would say that the Referendum is a waste of money - but completely necessary in the circumstances.”
Family First NZ is calling on Barnardos, Plunket and other government funded agencies running the Yes Vote campaign for the upcoming Referendum to support a minor law change and save the country $9m.
“These groups constantly say that they don’t want to see good parents criminalized for light smacks. We agree,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. “If they are being honest about desire, then they will have no problem lobbying the government to adopt the Boscawen Private Members Bill which is similar to the Borrows amendment.”
“On the Barnardos website, they say ‘One of the fears that people had about the law change was that it would result in parents being prosecuted for occasional inconsequential assaults (eg smacking a child lightly). No one wanted this to happen. Prosecutions for inconsequential assaults would upset families more than help them.’”
Family First NZ says that the latest online polls regarding the anti-smacking law show continued opposition to the anti-smacking law, and the law should be changed now rather than after a costly Referendum.
“Two polls last week by the Dominion Post and Yahoo showed huge opposition to the anti-smacking law,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
“A Stuff online poll today with 4,000 votes shows that 82% will be voting no in the upcoming Referendum, and a NZ Herald website poll showed 76% support for the Referendum to be binding (2700 votes).”
Family First NZ is annoyed with comments by the Prime Minister John Key that he will ignore the results of the upcoming anti-smacking Referendum and will not be allowing Families Commissioner Christine Rankin to enter the debate.
“The Referendum is an expensive exercise made necessary because of a failure by politicians to listen to the voters,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. “It is hypocritical of politicians to criticize the cost when their own actions have led to this public outcry. John Key is undermining the process by suggesting that, while he will ‘listen to the public’, any law change will be subject to what he thinks.”
Family First NZ is dismissing the latest research from the Families Commission as more wasted spending on information which tells us nothing new.
Otago University researchers will try and argue that their research of only 99 mums and 18 dads proves that smacking is ineffective - yet they can just look down the corridor to find research, also from Otago University, which found that children who were smacked in a reasonable way had similar or slightly better outcomes in terms of aggression, substance abuse, adult convictions and school achievement than those who were not smacked at all.
Family First NZ is welcoming a report from the Children’s Commissioner on child abuse released today, and says that it backs the call for a Royal Commission on child abuse.
“The report entitled ‘Death and serious injury from assault of children aged under 5 years in Aotearoa New Zealand: A review of international literature and recent findings’ makes an honest assessment of the real causes of child abuse and reinforces the findings of previous UNICEF and CYF reports that we have quoted,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
Family First NZ is welcoming comments made by Social Development Minister Paula Bennett in a radio interview over the weekend.
When a caller to the programme on Newstalk ZB asked the Minister whether she thought a smack as part of good parental correction should be a criminal offence in NZ, the Minister responded ‘No I don’t, I believe that actually good parenting should be left to do that in their different ways in their different homes and I don’t have an interest in going into people’s homes and telling them how to parent’.
Family First NZ has published an Open Letter to Prime Minister John Key in two Sunday papers today citing evidence of families being prosecuted and children removed by CYF under the anti-smacking law.
They include a parent who only smacked his daughter’s arm, a parent who was dragged to court but charges were dropped before the court case even began, a parent whose child was in trouble with the police yet was prosecuted when he gave her one leg smack to show how serious the issue was, and parents who were interviewed for five hours by police and the children removed by CYF for two nights when they admitted to a social service agency that they sometimes used a smack for the purpose of correction.
Family First NZ says that the Human Rights Commission has acknowledged the uncertainty of the anti-smacking law.
In response to a formal complaint by Family First NZ that the anti-smacking law is vague and uncertain, the Human Rights Commission has acknowledged the potential uncertainty of the law but is not convinced that the earlier version of section 59 ‘provided any better guidance than the present legislation’.
“This is despite agreeing with Family First that ‘individuals must be able to regulate their conduct with a reasonable degree of certainty as to the legal consequences of acting one way rather than another’, says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. “They still prefer the amendment due mainly to its adherence to UN requirements.”
Family First NZ says that the United Nations Committee on Torture has equated a kiwi parent using a smack for the purpose of correction as a form of torture, and compared the anti-smacking law to the abolition of the death penalty.
“This report has been promoted by groups supporting the anti-smacking law including Plunket, Barnardos, the Families Commission and EPOCH and shows a view of parenting completely removed from reality,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
Family First NZ says the conviction of a Christchurch parent for assaulting his children is appropriate if it was for punching the child.
“No matter how stressful the situation may be, a parent should never be punching a child in the face,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. “That action is completely unacceptable and abhorrent to any good parent.”
Family First NZ is repeating its call for an official Inquiry into the unacceptable levels of child abuse in NZ.
The call comes after the revelations of details over the ‘systematic torturing’ and killing of Duwayne Pailegutu byhis stepfather.
“The ban on smacking was simply an admission by politicians that they could not and would not tackle the real causes of child abuse as identified by recent CYFS and UNICEF reports,” says Bob McCoskrie of Family First.
Family First NZ says that research just released from the Families Commission shows that immigrant families are confused by the anti-smacking law and still see non-abusive smacking as a viable option for correcting their children.
The research report funded by the Families Commission and carried out by Victoria University entitled ‘SETTLING IN:parent-adolescent family dynamics in the acculturation process’ documents the experiences of migrant and refugee families in New Zealand adapting to NZ culture and laws. The report said ‘A major issue of both frustration and change in the families studied was discipline and the rights of children. Most of the families came from a culture where physical discipline was the norm. Many of the parents mentioned that they found the New Zealand law concerning the rights of children difficult to understand and to follow.
The corporal punishment of children was still seen as a viable method of reprimand by some parents, although they knew that this was against the law.’
Family First NZ is welcoming comments by Labour leader Phil Goff on TVNZ’s Q&A this morning that section 59 should be amended.
In response to a question from host Paul Holmes ‘should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in NZ’, Phil Goff replied ‘no it shouldn’t be a criminal offence.’
“As the law stands, it is a criminal offence - as voted for by Phil Goff and many other colleagues who were ‘whipped’ by their party to support the law change,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
Family First NZ is ‘stoked’ that ACT List MP John Boscawen has announced his intention to introduce a Private Members Bill to amend the anti-smacking law.
“Our polling along with every other poll done over the past 3 years shows that approximately 80% of NZ’ers oppose this law – and for good reason,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
"This flawed law has attempted to link a smack on the bottom with child abuse of the worst kind, and has put good parents raising law-abiding and responsible citizens in the same category as rotten parents who are a danger to their kids and to society in general.”
Almost two years after the passing of the controversial anti-smacking law, more than 80% of NZ’ers still want the law changed and 77% say that the law won’t have any effect on our unacceptable child abuse rate. These are the key finding of research commissioned by Family First NZ, following on from similar research in 2007 and 2008. The Curia Market Research poll surveyed 1,000 people, and also found huge confusion over the legal effect of the law.
83% said that the new law should be changed to state explicitly that parents who give their children a smack that is reasonable and for the purpose of correction are not breaking the law (85% in 2008, 82% in 2007).
83% say the law should be changed – only 13% say to keep it as is
77% says the law won’t help reduce the rate of child abuse in NZ
Less than one third of respondents actually understand the law
Family First NZ says that the police announcement of a homicide investigation into the death of Marton three-year-old 3-year-old (Cherish) Tahuri-Wright is a tragic reminder that the rate of child abuse deaths has continued at the same rate as before the flawed anti-smacking law.
“While good families are being investigated and thrown under suspicion because of the extremist anti-smacking law, child abuse has continued at the same rate and the same old underlying issues of drug and alcohol abuse, family breakdown and dysfunction, the presence of non-biological adults in the house, low maternal age, poverty and single parenthood continue to be downplayed,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
Family First NZ says that the police announcement of a homicide investigation into the death of Taupo five-week-old Jayrhis Ian Te Koha Lock-Tata is a tragic reminder that the rate of child abuse deaths has continued at the same rate as before the flawed anti-smacking law and we are failing to identify and tackle the real causes.
“While good families are being investigated and thrown under suspicion because of the extremist anti-smacking law,child abuse has continued at the same rate and the same old underlying issues of drug and alcohol abuse, family breakdown and dysfunction, the presence of non-biological adults in the house, low maternal age, poverty and single parenthood continue to be downplayed,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
“Before Bradford’s anti-smacking law was passed, there were an average of 7 child abuse deaths per year since 2000. Since the anti-smacking law was passed 20 months ago, there has been 12 child abuse deaths.”
Family First NZ says that the government should save the taxpayer $8 million on a postal referendum and simply fix the anti-smacking law now.
“It is incredible that in the midst of a recession, the government will be spending that amount of money to tell them what they already know – that the law should be fixed,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
Family First NZ says that the tragic child abuse death of 16-month old Northland boy Riley Osborne is more evidence of the key causes of child abuse which we are failing to acknowledge and tackle.
“Report after report from both CYF and UNICEF and international research all confirm that children are most at risk where there is the presence of drug and alcohol abuse, family breakdown, the presence of non-biological adults in the house, low maternal age, poverty and single parenthood,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First.
“This latest case shows a number of factors including drug and alcohol abuse, family breakdown, welfare dependency and low maternal age.”
Latest figures on police activity following the anti-smacking law confirm that police are wasting valuable police time and resources investigating unwarranted complaints against parents, but they also confirm that they are prosecuting parents for smacking.
"There has been a 30% blow-out in total CYF notifications in the last 12 months to just under 100,000, a 27% increase in referrals by police to CYF, and an increase in police investigations for smacking since the amendment. Yet the number of cases warranting further investigation by CYF has declined!" says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. "Most concerning is that parents have been prosecuted or referred to CYF for minor smacking. Our fears of prosecutions have been confirmed.”
Family First NZ says that CYF’s limited resources are being wasted and non-abusive parents are being targeted, with a ‘blow-out’ in CYF notifications but the levels of actual abuse not increasing. CYF has received more than 93,200 notifications this year - up from 32,000 in the 2002–2003 period – and a 30% increase on the 2007 year. Yet actual child abuse being uncovered has shown no corresponding increase.
Family First NZ is welcoming a Children’s Commissioner survey which says that only 20% of those surveyed disagreed with smacking in certain circumstances.
“This is consistent with all other polls done throughout the year including research commissioned by Family First – that there is an 80% opposition to the anti-smacking law because most people know that smacking for the purpose of correction is not child abuse,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
“The 43% support for the law change would include a large number of people who are optimistic about the police discretion clause introduced at the eleventh hour.”
Family First NZ says that John Key and the National government should respond to the concerns of voters now rather than later, and amend the anti-smacking law to protect good parents.
“The Labour government was punished and the Greens failed to achieve their potential because of the opposition and anger over the anti-smacking law,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
“Even so-called left wing commentators like Chris Trotter acknowledge that Labour was punished by losing up to 100,000 potential voters because of ramming through the law.
Family First NZ is welcoming comments by senior National MP Judith Collins that if elected, National will check whether the anti-smacking law has resulted in needless prosecutions and persecution of parents.
“We have stacks of evidence and testimony that good families have been targeted by this flawed law and that it has failed to deal with actual child abuse,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. “Families have been referred to CYF by schools, neighbours, members of the public, their children, and even their children’s friends for non-abusive smacking. And some families have also undergone police investigation.”
“This has caused huge stress and anxiety to families who are simply trying to raise good law-abiding kids in an appropriate way.”
Family First NZ is slamming the latest research from the Otago University Childrens Issues Centre as shonky, bias, and junk science. “The Childrens Issue Centre is simply a closet lobby group for the anti-smacking brigade,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. “They have been well known for letting their ideology get in the way of independent and thorough research, and recently hosted a conference of anti-smacking lobby groups including discredited Canadian researcher Joan Durrant.”
Family First NZ is welcoming comments made by National’s candidate for Hamilton West Tim Macindoe that he opposes the anti-smacking law. “Mr Macindoe is not the first National candidate to express his opposition to this flawed law,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
“In fact we even had some National MP’s requesting copies of the petition forms asking for a Referendum on the issue, and a number of MP’s have privately expressed their frustration with their leader’s continued ignoring of calls for the law to be amended.”
Family First NZ says that the Children’s Commissioner has knowingly misled the public on child abuse statistics, but that it is not first time that she has done so. In a Sunday Star Times article last year, Dr Cindy Kiro said that 88 children were killed in a five year period. These were repeated in a Dominion Post article this year on Dr Kiro.
But blogger Lindsay Mitchell has obtained an admission from Dr Kiro under the Official Information Act that the figures are inaccurate, and that the real figure was 35.
Family First NZ is labeling comments made by National leader John Key in the Dominion Post today regarding the anti-smacking law and Referendum as disappointing and deaf to the views of the overwhelming majority of NZ parents
“It was hoped that National would respect the views of parents both when the law change was being discussed and when the 300,000-plus voters signed the petition demanding a change to the law and a Referendum,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. “However Key’s comments today suggest that the attitude of ‘politicians know best’ is rampant not only in the Labour and Greens parties but also the National party now.”
In the interview, Key said “We'll have respect for what the referendum says, but it wouldn't make us change our mind” and we’ll “change the law if the law isn't administered in the way that I think this Parliament intended it to be.”
In a stunning turnaround, Green MP Sue Bradford has told parents that smacking is not a criminal offence and implied that groups like Barnardos, Plunket, Every Child Counts and politicians who have said that the aim of the law was to ban parents physically punishing their children are misleading the public.
In a media release from the Green party today, Bradford says ‘smacking has never been a criminal offence, and still isn't.’ Yet only last year, she told Newstalk ZB ‘it is already illegal to smack children but her bill removes a defence of reasonable force for the purpose of correction.’
Family First NZ says that the NZ Herald poll showing 86% opposition to the anti-smacking law is further proof that the law is fundamentally wrong and should be changed.
“This is not 86% of NZ’ers who want to ‘thrash and beat’ their children as was suggested by the prime minister last year,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. “This is simply NZ’ers saying that a law supposedly designed to tackle child abuse should not end up targeting good parents raising great kids.”
“Appropriate smacking for the purpose of correcting, training and teaching should never be a crime exposing parents to possible police investigation and CYF intervention.”
Family First NZ says that a survey on attitudes to the anti-smacking law by Invercargill MP Eric Roy showing huge opposition to the anti-smacking law is indicative of the NZ-wide sentiment.
The survey, which was reported in the Southland Times today, and completed by almost 12,000 people revealed that 83% wanted the anti-smacking law overturned. Ironically, Eric Roy voted for the anti-smacking law.
“Attempts to suggest that NZ’ers need to move on and that opposition to the law change is decreasing are simply not true,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
Family First NZ is welcoming comments made by National leader John Key at the Forum on the Family in Auckland yesterday that National will listen to the results of a Referendum on the anti-smacking law.
“The large majority of politicians ignored the overwhelming majority of NZ’ers who were opposed to the legislation in the first place. Labour is now trying to ‘bury’ the Referendum for political expediency. And there is no guarantee that any party will even listen to the result of the Referendum,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
“This is the first indication that National will acknowledge the voice of NZ’ers on this contentious issue.”
Family First NZ says that there will be a test in Parliament today of whether NZ is a democracy that represents the voice of NZ’ers.
Independent MP Gordon Copeland is seeking the leave of the House for a debate on a motion that the House recommends to the Government that that anti-smacking referendum be held at the same time as the General Election.
Family First NZ says the government is guilty of being arrogant, hypocritical and patronising by suggesting that the Referendum on the anti-smacking law cannot be organised until mid-2009.
“The government is yet to announce the date of the general election involving the two-vote system under MMP and due to take place within 3 months, yet it says it cannot organise a one-vote Referendum within 10 months,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
“The attempt to delay democracy by this government is breath-taking.
Family First NZ is welcoming the success of the petition demanding a Referendum on the flawed anti-smacking law.
“To reach the required 285,000 signatures is difficult enough, but the final result shows that an extra 25,000 signatures have been attained. This is evidence of just how strong the opposition to this law is,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
“The evidence is pouring in that good families are being both persecuted and also prosecuted with eight prosecutions for minor acts of physical discipline in a recent six month period.”
Family First NZ says there is further evidence that CYF’s limited resources are being wasted, with a ‘blow-out’ in CYF notifications but the levels of actual abuse not increasing, or at worst not being caught.
Waikato figures reported in the Waikato Times today, show an increase of notifications from 5,973 to 8,629 but those requiring further action have fallen significantly from 3729 to 3308 that same year.
Family First NZ says that the Littlies website poll which found that 87% of parents of young children don’t think the anti-smacking law is effective is confirmation that NZ’ers have soundly rejected the law change and its time the politicians listened and changed it.
The www.littlies.co.nz poll asked “One year on, do you think the anti-smacking Bill has proved to be effective?” 87% said No, and a furher 7% were unsure. Only 7% said it was effective.
Family First NZ says that Canadian researcher Joan Durrant, who is currently in NZ as a guest of the antismacking lobby, has been discredited with her claims made during the anti-smacking debate.
“In fact, her evidence was not even accepted in her home country of Canada when they were debating a similar section to NZ’s s59 of Canada’s Criminal Code,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
Family First NZ says that it is highly ironic that the anti-smacking lobby is gathering together at Otago
University this coming weekend to try and sell the deeply flawed anti-smacking law. Otago University research showed that reasonable and appropriate smacking for the purpose of correction was not harmful and in some circumstances was actually beneficial in the development of a child.
“The Dunedin multidisciplinary health and development study released in 2006 found that children who are smacked lightly with an open hand on the bottom, hand or leg do much the same in later life as those who are not smacked,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. “They had similar, and sometimes even slightly better outcomes, in terms of aggression, substance abuse, adult convictions and school achievement than those who were not smacked at all.”
Family First NZ says that the evidence is in that CYF’s limited resources are being wasted, with a ‘blow-out’ in CYF notifications but the levels of actual abuse not increasing, or at worst not being caught.
Statistics released by CYF to the Nelson Mail reported today showed that the total number of notifications received by CYF had increased steadily over the last four financial years. However, the agency's figures showed a significant drop in actual cases found to involve abuse or neglect.
Family First NZ has written to the leaders of National, Act, NZ First, United Future and the two independent MP’s asking that they form a majority and require the anti-smacking Referendum to be held on Election Day.
Under section 22AA (5) of the Citizens Initiated Referenda Act 1993, a Referendum can be scheduled for polling day if the “House of Representatives passes a resolution requiring the indicative referendum to be held on the polling day for the general election.”
Family First NZ says that the police report on the effects of the anti-smacking law shows an almost 300% jump in the number of parents being investigated for minor acts of physical discipline since the law was passed.
“The six month review of police activity following the passing of the anti-smacking law follows on from the 3 month review immediately after the law change, and a further 3 month review six months after the amendment,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. “There is an obvious effort to try and paint a positive spin on this law change by the police head office, with so many reviews!”
Family First NZ is shocked and angry that the Prime Minister is willing to consider spending over $10 million of taxpayers’ money on the anti-smacking Referendum to be held separately from the upcoming election rather than holding it during the upcoming election, which is the most natural timing for it.
“Helen Clark says that Parliament had spoken on the issue with a near "unanimous mind". What she fails to say is that both the major parties were ‘whipped’ to vote for the bill, which is highly ironic considering it is the anti-smacking bill,” says Mr McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. “She also fails to hear the voice of over 390,000 signatories who oppose the law change and are demanding a Referendum, and the 80%-plus who want the law changed according to latest polls.”
Family First NZ says that the extra ‘stack’ of signatures on the petition opposing the anti-smacking law and being presented at Parliament today confirms that the politicians failed to listen to the voice of the people when passing this unpopular and ineffective law.
“The law would never have passed if the two major political parties had not ‘whipped’ their MP’s to vote for the anti-smacking law, which is highly ironic in itself,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
The NZ Health Survey released today confirms that parents are not using smacking as a ‘first measure’, and the huge opposition to the anti-smacking law is not based on parents demanding the right to smack – it is based on simply the right to parent effectively and appropriately.
The government survey shows that less than a third of primary caregivers physically punished their child in the relatively small 4-week period before responding to the survey.
Family First NZ is rubbishing statements by Green Party MP Sue Bradford that the 48% of parents (51% of mums) who have used a smack for the purposes of correction since the passing of the anti-smacking law are “using violence as part of bringing up their children” or “resorting to violence.”
“This statement, like the anti-smacking law, is removed from reality and is an insult to the hundreds of thousands of parents who are raising good, responsible, happy and law-abiding kids,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
More than half of our mums with young children flouting the law
A year after the passing of the controversial anti-smacking law, opposition to the law change is growing. These are the key finding of research commissioned by Family First NZ, following on from similar research in 2007. The poll surveyed 1,018 people and found continued overwhelming opposition to the new law.
Opposition to the anti-smacking law has increased from 62% last year to 73% now. Only 19% strongly or somewhat agreed with the new law despite the Police discretion clause (down from 29% in June 2007). Almost half of the survey (47%) strongly disagree with the ban on smacking.
85% said that the new law should be changed to state explicitly that parents who give their children a smack that is reasonable and for the purpose of correction are not breaking the law (up from 82% last year).
300,000 more signatures were submitted today on a 2nd petition demanding that the government tackle the real causes of child abuse including family breakdown and domestic violence.
“This is in addition to the 350,000 signatures already collected on the 1st petition calling for the scrapping of the anti-smacking law,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. “And this total continues to grow.”
Australian research shows that children under five living with a non-biological or step-parent are up to 77 times more likely to die from a violence-related injury than those living with their biological families.
A review by Deakin University of more than 1000 coroners' cases between 2000 and 2003 found that stepchildren are at dramatically raised risk of being victims of fatal accidents, as well as physical abuse and homicide. Children living with single mothers were no more likely to die from either violent or unintentional causes than those in biological families. But children living with neither biological parent, such as foster children and state wards, faced up to a 102 times greater risk of death.
Family First NZ says that the increasing level of parental abuse by their children is an unfortunate but expected outcome of the ideologically flawed and extremist anti-smacking law.
Recent examples include Nelson police reporting that young people are becoming increasingly violent or threatening towards their parents and that some parents no longer have the confidence to deal with the unacceptable behaviour. Local social agencies in the Bay of Plenty say sibling violence and kids being violent towards their parents are both issues ‘escalating’ in the area. And an increase in both verbal and physical abuse towards parents has been highlighted by youthworkers in the Kapiti Coast.
Family First NZ says that the charging of a Glen Innes man which was subsequently dismissed in the Auckland District Court today is evidence that good parents are victims of the anti-smacking law, a law which has done nothing to stem rates of real child abuse.
“The lawyer representing the father is agreeing with Family First’s original assertions that good and loving fathers (and mothers) would be victims of this ideologically flawed law, that members of families would use it against other members, and that supporters of Bradford’s anti-smacking law have simply abused child abuse laws,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
More than 600,000 signatures will be delivered to Parliament today demanding Referendums on the anti-smacking bill and tackling the real causes of child abuse. There are two petitions which required 285,000 signatures each, yet the anti-smacking petition alone has received approximately 330,000 signatures – well over the targeted amount.
Family First is shocked and disappointed by an astonishing attack on the intelligence of New Zealand parents by the Children's Commissioner. The Children’s Commissioner Cindy Kiro has attempted to discredit the huge response to the two petitions asking for a Referendum on child abuse and the anti-smacking law by saying that previous generations of parents didn't parent as positively and were less qualified in knowing how to raise their children than parents of today.
"This is an incredible display of arrogance and intolerance from Dr Kiro," says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ, "and shows the disrespect she has for kiwi parenting. Most parents I talk to often seek advice from their own parents and other parents and grandparents on effective parenting techniques. They acknowledge the wisdom and experience that older parents have."
Family First NZ is laughing off suggestions by Green MP Sue Bradford that Family First is writing National party policy and that National supports amending her anti-smacking legislation.
“If Family First NZ was that influential in National party circles, it would have vetoed National’s support of the antismacking law in the first place,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
Family First NZ is not surprised by the findings of a Research NZ poll which has found continued massive opposition to the anti-smacking law. According to the poll, 74% believe that parents should be able to smack children – an equivalent rate to 12 months ago (73%) when a similar poll was done.
“This is consistent with all other polling which has averaged around the mid 70’s low 80’s percent opposition to this extremist law,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
Family First NZ is not surprised that the number of signatures calling for a Referendum on the anti-smacking law has already reached the ¼ of a million mark.
“This hugely unpopular bill has failed to protect 3 year old Nia Glassie, 16 month old Sachin Dhani, and 10 month old Jyniah Mary Te Awa to name just some of the tragic child abuse deaths since the law was passed,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
Family First says that a study published in the latest NZ Medical Journal backs up the need for targeted support and resourcing of at-risk parents – especially young parents.
“The Christchurch Health and Development study, albeit a low survey group (n=155) and targeting only parents aged 25 years, shows that 77% of these parents are not abusing their children when using appropriate and reasonable physical punishment,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. “This % is consistent with the total number of parents in NZ who are using physical punishment in a reasonable and effective way.”
Family First is welcoming the conviction of two foster parents who were today found guilty of assaulting two sisters in their care, including hitting one in the face with a baseball bat.
“Despite the original section 59 being available as a possible defence to the couple, it has not protected them in any way, and neither should it have,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. “The actions of these foster parents were not reasonable – they were simply abusive.”
The American College of Pediatricians (ACP), a national medical association of licensed physicians and healthcare professionals who specialise in the care of infants, children, and adolescents has released a position statement on the smacking of children.
“This research backs up the argument put forward by Family First and other pro-family groups against Sue Bradford’s anti-smacking law,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First.
The anti-smacking law is wasting valuable police time and resources when police should be focusing their energies on actual child abuse like the two recent Rotorua cases.
A Howick-Otara police family violence coordinator has highlighted a case of an 11-year-old calling 111 and complaining to the police after being corrected by his parents. The police say he had learnt about the law at school and was misinformed.
Labour MP David Cunliffe has been observed giving one of his children a smack for naughty behaviour at a shopping mall
Family First was contacted and told of the actions which occurred at the Lynmall Shopping Centre this afternoon (Saturday 30 June). The child was being corrected for hitting another child.
“We support David Cunliffe for the action he took to correct naughty behaviour,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. “The smack on the hand was reasonable and appropriate in the circumstances.” “It appears that Mr Cunliffe was acting as any good parent would in the same circumstances.”
The Police have confirmed that they will prosecute parents who lightly smack their children, even if the smacking is inconsequential.
In the Police Practice Guide released by Deputy Commissioner Rob Pope today, it states that “while smacking may, in some circumstances, be considered inconsequential, a prosecution may be warranted if such actions are repetitive or frequent.”
Only 29% of NZ’ers support the Sue Bradford ‘anti-smacking’ bill due to become enforceable in law this week, and 78% plan to ignore the law and continue to smack as a form of correction, despite the possibility they might be prosecuted.
These are the key finding of research commissioned by Family First NZ and conducted by market research company Curia Market Research.
The Prime Minister, in her response to calls to lower the alcohol limit for driving, has said what many parents and family groups argued should be the approach to the anti-smacking bill.
In response to a question this morning on Newstalk ZB as to why won’t the government consider lowering the alcohol limit on drink driving, the PM’s response was “…I am highly conscious of not drinking before driving. I think most people are. And the question you have to ask is are you then going to bring in a rule that fundamentally changes it for highly law abiding people when the problem is with those who drink far too much.”
Politicians have ignored the weigh of public opinion, the scientific evidence, and the international experience in forcing through the anti-smacking bill today
“If the major political parties had allowed a conscience vote on this bill as originally promised, the bill would have been dead and buried at the 2nd reading,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First.
A leading QC has recommended to parents that they never acknowledge that they are “correcting” bad behaviour once the Anti-Smacking law is passed in Parliament.
“Because good parents who use reasonable force to effectively correct offensive or disruptive behaviour or defiance from a child will be exposed to criminal liability and investigation under the new anti-smacking law, it is essential that they receive good advice and protection,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
Family First NZ and For the Sake of Our Children Trust are publishing full page advertisements in the four major daily newspapers tomorrow in an attempt to get the extra 120,000 signatures necessary to force a Referendum on the issues of child abuse and parental correction.
“The message we are getting from the public is that the anti-smacking bill, and all its amendments, is still going to result in good parents being treated as law breakers,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
Politicians will vote this week on the world’s most extreme anti-smacking law in the world, according to Dr Robert E Larzelere, Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Science at the Oklahoma State University, who was brought to New Zealand by Family First NZ as a scientific expert on child correction for the debate on Sue Bradford’s antismacking bill.
In a commentary written after his week in NZ earlier this month speaking with politicians and media, he says “…the imminent New Zealand smacking ban is more extreme than Sweden’s ban in three ways.
The latest report from Save the Children “State of the World’s Mothers 2007 – Saving the Lives of Children Under 5” is further evidence that the proposed ban on smacking is a ‘feel-good’ policy which has been adopted by 17 countries now without any identifiable or tangible benefit.
For the child death rate in the developed world, NZ currently ranks 21st. Of the top 20 safest countries, less than half have banned smacking. And the worst country for child deaths, Romania, banned smacking 3 years ago.
Family First is calling on the leaders of the National and Labour party to allow a conscience vote for their MP’s on the final reading of the ‘anti-smacking’ bill in two week’s time.
“If this revised bill is as good as both John Key and Helen Clark are claiming, then they should have no problem allowing their MP’s to vote with their conscience as was previously promised,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First.
A visiting US expert on child correction research has written to MP’s asking them to oppose Sue Bradford’s anti-smacking bill because of the weight of scientific research which shows that bans on smacking do not work in achieving the goal of reducing child abuse.
Dr Robert E. Larzelere was one of three social scientific expert witnesses on the side of successfully defending a similar section to NZ’s s59 of Canada’s Criminal Code. (The social scientific expert witnesses on the other side included Joan Durrant. Durrant has been painted as the authority on smacking bans in NZ yet was ignored in her own country!)
He is also a member of the Task Force on Corporal Punishment with the American Psychological Association, and one of 7 experts invited to present at the 1996 Scientific Consensus Conference on the Short- and Long-Term Consequences of Corporal Punishment, co-sponsored by American Academy of Pediatrics.
On the 15th March 2007, Greens MP Sue Bradford put out a press release in relation to her bill amending section 59 saying “I have never called it an anti-smacking bill – my opponents did, and the media adopted the phrase. Smacking a child is already an assault under section 194 of the Crimes Act 1961. It has been this way for over a century. If my Bill is passed this will not change.” (http://www.greens.org.nz/searchdocs/PR10668.html)
However, in a press release from 2003 when the bill was first mooted, the release is entitled “Greens draw up their own anti-smacking bill” and says “The Greens are designing a bill that will stop parents physically punishing their children, in line with United Nations demands.” (http://www.greens.org.nz/searchdocs/PR6778.html)
An online poll on the respected Treasures website shows 85% opposition to the Bradford ‘Anti-Smacking’ Bill.
The Treasures website, claimed to be New Zealand's most popular source of helpful parenting advice for new parents and their babies, had almost 2,000 parents vote in the poll. 74% totally disagreed with the anti-smacking bill and 11% slightly disagreed. Only 15% totally or slightly agreed.
Three cases of assaults on children over the past fortnight have proved that the claim that section 59 is protecting child abusers is totally false.
A Hawkes Bay woman faces a jail term for taking to her son with a wooden spoon and leaving him with 4cm welts. A Tauranga mother who admitted she slapped her 10-year-old daughter about the face and body at least five times to discipline her for back-chatting has also been convicted of assault.
A Hawkes Bay woman faces a jail term for taking to her son with a wooden spoon and leaving him with 4cm welts. A Tauranga mother who admitted she slapped her 10-year-old daughter about the face and body at least five times to discipline her for back-chatting has also been convicted of assault.
And yesterday, an Invercargill mother was convicted of assault of a child after she used the child's folder to hit him across the arms and used her open hand to hit him across the buttocks. The boy received extensive bruising to his hands, arms, lower buttocks and upper thighs.
A year 8 student from Viscount Learning Community in Mangere, South Auckland has written to the Maori party requesting that the Maori party vote against the ‘anti-smacking’ bill and support the alternative amendment of MP Chester Borrow’s.
The student consulted with both Maori and Pacific Island students in the school by running a meeting and surveying the senior classes in the school. Out of 188 students in years 6 – 8, they found only four students in support of a ban on smacking. The letter was formulated with the assistance of other students in the class.
Family First is disappointed that the National Party is not willing to offer a reassurance to parents that if elected as the next government, they will overturn the ‘anti-smacking’ bill if the bill is passed into law.
“While we appreciate that 95% of the National Caucus are opposed to the bill already, and are unanimous in their support for the sensible alternative of Chester Borrow’s, parents need to be reassured that a National government will offer a distinct alternative to the anti-family and arrogant agenda of the current government,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First.
Family First is disgusted with comments made by the Prime Minister attacking and insulting the huge proportion of NZ parents who oppose the ‘anti-smacking’ bill.
In Parliament today, Dr Michael Cullen reiterated what the Prime Minister is saying about good parents who oppose the bill and don’t want to be treated as criminals under the law. Cullen quoted the PM as saying “… our rate of child death and injury from violence, including in the home, is appalling. It is a stain on our international reputation, and I cannot see how those who are demanding the right to be able to thrash and beat children can possibly then turn around and profess concern about what is happening to our children.”
Research New Zealand has released a poll today showing that only 18% of kiwis agree or strongly agree with Sue Bradford and the Prime Minister’s anti-smacking bill currently before parliament.
“Supporters of the bill have always tried to argue that the 14 polls done over the past 2 years, and averaging 84% support for section 59, are not accurate,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. “Yet here is yet another independent poll showing that 82% of kiwis either strongly disagree or disagree with the bill, or have no clear support for the ‘anti-smacking’ bill.
Labour’s decision to attempt to ram through the ‘anti-smacking’ bill under urgency has revealed that this private members bill is now a Labour bill in all but name.
Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First says that this action, as well as Labour MP’s being told how to exercise their conscience, is ample proof that the criminalisation of good parents is a clear agenda of the Labour party leadership.
Family First has been notified that the government is to give urgency to the ‘Anti-smacking’ bill due back in Parliament next week.
Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First, says that if this is the case, the Labour-led government will be showing incredible arrogance and disdain towards the views and concerns of NZ parents and families.
Green MP Sue Bradford has been hailing a legal opinion from Sir Geoffrey Palmer which states that under her “antismacking” bill, removing kids against their will to “time-out” will not be treated as “correction” and therefore not banned under the bill.
However, Peter McKenzie QC, in a detailed analysis commissioned by United Future MP Gordon Copeland, concluded that parents who remove their child against their will to a time out zone or “naughty mat” would indeed commit a criminal offence if Bradford’s bill was to become law.
The NZ Law Society and two top QC’s are disputing the effectiveness of the ‘anti-smacking’ bill being pushed by Labour and the Greens.
In opinions obtained by Family First NZ, Grant Illingworth QC has labeled the bill “an unmitigated piece of nonsense” and believes that the proposed amendment being supported by Labour and the Greens will criminalise conduct that most members of the public would not believe was wrongful – the end result being that the law is brought into disrepute.
Simon Maude, Chair of the Family Law Section of the NZ Law Society said in a media release from January that the proposed bill is a prescription that actually widens rather than narrows what is permissible, and will enable a more indiscriminate use of force than had otherwise been justified under the old legislation.
Community leaders from the Pacifica community have expressed their opposition to Sue Bradford’s anti-smacking bill which is being debated in Parliament tomorrow.
Ex-All Black and parent Eroni Clarke and Silver Fern Linda Vagana have joined forces with Tongan church leader and grandparent Rev Tavake Tupou, Porirua Councillor and Samoan Litea Ah Hoi, Lawyer and Samoan grandparent Olinda Woodriffe, and well known Niuean musician and parent Tony Fuemana to ask MP’s to reject a bill which they believe will do more harm than good to Pacific Island parents and families.
Despite Labour MP’s being told to vote for Sue Bradford’s ‘anti-smacking’ bill, the youth wing of the Labour party has sent a clear message to its MP’s that it doesn’t agree.
On the Young Labour website (www.younglabour.org.nz) the question has been posed “Should Section 59 (of the Crimes Act) be repealed.”
In a result consistent with every other poll done over the past 2 years, the result has been a resounding no! 80.7% have opposed Sue Bradford’s Bill.
Family First is warning politicians that an outcome of voting for Sue Bradford’s ‘anti-smacking’ bill is that children will report their parents to the police when they don’t like parental discipline and correction. Prominent QC Peter McKenzie, in his opinion released last week, highlights this when he says “complaints may be made by children who have resented their means of correction or denial of privileges.”
“And this is consistent with international experience,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. Britain’s most senior black policeman said (3 March 2007)(1) that parents no longer use physical punishment because they fear they will end up in court facing an assault charge.
Family First is calling on Pacific Island groups, churches, and communities to speak up against Sue Bradford’s antismacking Bill before it is too late.
“The latest opinion by a leading New Zealand QC adds weight to Family First’s warnings that the Pacific Island Sector will be particularly at risk from unwarranted and inappropriate intervention by Police and CYF who are responding to complaints about smacking – complaints made either by members of the public, or by children themselves who have resented their means of correction or denial of privileges,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
The Government has confirmed Family First’s argument that any cases of suspected or reported smacking will have to be investigated if section 59 is repealed in its current form.
In reply to a question from National MP Chester Borrows in Parliament today, Cabinet Minister Phil Goff acknowledged that under the current family violence policy of the Police, they were already obliged to investigate suspected or reported assaults.
Latest figures from Sweden reveal that more and more children are being abused in Sweden.
According to The Swedish Daily, there has been a 14% increase in child abuse cases in 2006 compared with 2005 figures. This backs up earlier research showing that child abuse increased 489% in the 13 years following a ban on smacking, and assaults by minors against minors increased 672%.
Family First is supporting the Citizens Initiated Referendums announced today calling on the Government to give urgent priority to understanding and addressing the wider causes of family breakdown, family violence and child abuse in NZ.
“These petitions to force a Referendum on the issue of child abuse are simply an expression of the frustration felt by the huge majority of NZ’ers who want to tackle the real causes of child and domestic abuse without MP’s penalising good parents who are raising law abiding children with appropriate love and correction,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
1. No decent research shows smack by a loving parent breeds violence
Otago University study 2006 – children who were smacked in a reasonable way had similar or slightly better outcomes in terms of aggression, substance abuse, adult convictions and school achievement than those who were not smacked at all.
Fergusson and Lynskey (Christchurch School of Medicine) – found no difference between no smacking and moderate physical punishment “It is misleading to imply that occasional or mild physical punishment has long term adverse consequences”
2. UNICEF reports prove there is no link between smacking and child abuse
2003 UNICEF report on maltreatment deaths. - Of the five countries with the lowest child abuse death rates in the UNICEF report, four allow smacking! Austria banned smacking in 1989 – is the 5th highest for child abuse death rates...