The latest six month review of the repeal of Section 59 of the Crimes Act (commonly referred to as the “anti-smacking law”) has shown the amount of police intervention to claims of a ‘smack’ has remained minimal. However, lobby group Family First claim that the law is a “spectacular failure”.

The repeal of Section 59 was enacted in June 2007, and since then the Police have monitored any signs and effects this has had on the public of New Zealand.

The third review covers the time from 5 April 2008 to 3 October 2008 which showed 258 call outs for Police on “child  assault” claims. Nine were smacks and 49 were classed as “minor acts of physical discipline”. The New Zealand Police said in a press release, “One smacking event was prosecuted, but subsequently withdrawn when the primary witness declined to give evidence. There were 4 prosecutions of ‘minor acts of physical discipline’, 3 resulting in convictions with one still to be resolved through the court.”

National Director of Family First NZ Bob McCoskrie said, “Most concerning is that parents have been prosecuted or referred to CYF for minor smacking. Our fears of prosecutions have been confirmed.”

“Research conducted by the Children’s Issue Centre and the Office of the Children’s Commissioner shows that more parents understand that hitting children is not effective and are moving towards positive discipline methods,” the Chief Executive of Barnardos New Zealand Murray Edridge said.

“They understand the law and support it.”

The latest review confirms that the numbers are decreasing. In the September 2007 to April 2008 review there were 288 child assault events, of which 13 were smacking and 69 was minor physical discipline.

Mr McCoskrie said, “Sadly, the rate of ‘child assault’ prosecutions is decreasing and actual child abusers are not being caught and the ‘roll of horror’ of child abuse deaths continues…” He cites cases such as when three year old NiaGlassie, 16 month old Sachin Dhani, and more died due to abuse.

However, Mr Edridge said, “The law is working well. There is no significant increase in the numbers of parents being prosecuted, which clearly shows that the Police are exercising discretion and only prosecuting serious incidents under the law.”

“Activity remains ‘business as usual’ for Police and confirms Officers are continuing to use a common sense approach to child assault events,” Deputy Police Commissioner Rob Pope said.

One more review remains to be conducted by the Police.

Written by Gabriel Pollard of http://birdseyenews.wordpress.com/

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