Friday, 3 August 2007


Boy's 111 'parent assault' call unfounded
By REBECCA PAPPRILL - Eastern Courier | Friday, 3 August 2007

EXPLAINING THE BOUNDRIES: Howick-Otara family violence coordinator sergeant Brett Woodmass has had calls from misinformed residents.

A boy called 111 after learning about the new child discipline regulations at school.

The 11-year-old turned to police fearing he was assaulted by his parents, but it turned out that he was being disciplined.

"He was engaging in offensive and obstructive behaviour and his parents intervened with reasonable force," Howick-Otara family violence coordinator sergeant Brett Woodmass says.

"The boy said he had learnt about the law at school and I believe he was misinformed," he says.

A few calls to police related to Section 59 of the Crimes Act reveal some residents are confused over the new regulations.

Mr Woodmass says there have been calls that police normally would not have.

"A father of a child didn't like his sister-in-law smacking his child on the hand," he says.

"It was deemed reasonable to minimise the child's actions to prevent potential harm."

The police investigate every case and still have the discretion not to prosecute complaints against the parent.

"Until a case law develops on the section, it is not known how it will be interpreted and applied by the courts," Mr Woodmass says.

The legislation update states that parents are legally allowed to use reasonable force to 'control' their child to protect them or other people from harm; to prevent the child committing a crime or engaging in offensive or disruptive behaviour; and to perform the normal daily tasks of good care and parenting.

But it is illegal for parents to use force to 'correct' children.

There will no longer be a defence for parents or care-givers charged with assaulting their children who claim that they were using reasonable force to correct their children?s behaviour.

As children get older, the use of reasonable force will become less justifiable.

Factors that are considered are the age and maturity of the child, ability of the child to reason, characteristics of the child, such as physical development, sex and state of health and circumstances that led to the use of force.

Mr Woodmass says when using force the parent must act in good faith and have a reasonable belief in a state of facts to justify their force.

District family violence coordinator Tim Smith says he has appointed staff to collect data of incoming calls related to the bill in the Counties Manukau area.

He says towards the end of August he may have an idea of how the changes to the bill have affected the community.

Changes to the the Crimes (Abolition of Force as a Justification for Child Discipline) Amendment Bill 2005 were passed through Parliament on May 16 this year and came into force on June 22.

1 comment:

FamilyIntegrity said...

From Ruby Harrold-Claesson

New Zealand - Comments on boy's mischievous report
This scenario with the 11 year old boy that is reported here, is exactly what was predicted by some judicial organs when Sweden was preparing its anti-smacking law in 1978-79. There have been several cases where children in Sweden have reported their parents - to punish them - eg the case of the six year old in Sundsvall on July 12, 2007 and "Teacher Case II (1992)", case no. 15 on the list of cases that I presented to the Select Committee at the oral hearing in Hamilton on 27 July 2006.

In my written submission to the Select Committee, dated February 27, 2006, I quoted from the preparatory works for the Swedish anti-smacking law. The NZ legislative was fully informed as to the disastrous consequences of the Swedish anti-smacking law. They were not in good faith about the repeal of Section 59. They knew what to expect, so that is exactly what Helen Clark and Sue Bradford and co. want for their fellow citizens. It is appalling that Kofi Annan promoted an anti-smacking agenda before his term of office as UN Secretary General ended. There seems to be a global conspiracy against the Family, the corner-stone of society.

Here follows an excerpt from my submission, (page 8):

Before the Bill abolishing physical punishment of children in Sweden was presented in Parliament it was sent to various bodies in the society for their comments. Among those who opposed the proposal were the State Prosecutor and the Regional Prosecutor in Östergötland.

The State prosecutor (Riksåklagaren) commented: "One can wonder if the law, even in future, ought not to leave space for a difference between children and adults when it is a question of judging physical punishment or other humiliating treatment. This could be achieved by adjusting the contents of the proposed law so that the child should not be subjected to physical punishment or other humiliating treatment of a kind, which is punishable under the penal code. Thereby we would point out that treatment not deemed criminal or worthy of being criminalised would be clearly exempted. In the first place I am not at all referring to cases of abuse, but rather to the fact that many cases of treatment, which would be humiliating for an adult, and thus punishable under the law, must be accepted by children.... As far as I have understood the proposed Bill it is not primarily aimed at increasing the rate of criminalisation, but rather as a codification of the views which are prevalent in the society. It would be most unfortunate for the law-enforcing authorities if the proposed Bill should open a pipeline of police reports which lead to nowhere." (My bold text.)

The Regional Prosecutor in Östergötland remarked: "For my part, I do not think that this law will have the effect of reducing the number of cases of child ill-treatment. I do not think this law is going to have any effect at all. (...) I could imagine as a possible negative effect that, in the future, people are going to run to the police with reports about child abuse both in urgent and in non-urgent cases, now that there is a law which says, that children must not be physically punished in any way. This will lead the police and prosecutors to investigate a greater number of cases than before and even in many cases where there is no reason for an indictment. Such an effect of an extended possibility of accusation is undesirable and many unjustified police investigations will certainly have very negative consequences for the children in many cases." (My bold text.)

The County Administration in Östergötland expressed the views that people accept that violence should not be used in their contacts with each other. They stated that most young parents adhere to raising their children without smacking them, but that they would resort to smacking as a corrective in dangerous situations and when under pressure. They continued: "It is also important to point out, that children today are very much exposed to being indoctrinated to violence that appears for example in the media where violence is often seen as the easiest way to solve conflicts." (My bold text.)

Ruby Harrold-Claesson
President of the NCHR/NKMR