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    9 – 22 November 2007

    By HEF Admin | November 22, 2007

    MEDIA RELEASE
    22 November 2007

    Key Must Commit to Protecting Good Families From Bad Smacking Law

    Family First NZ is calling on National leader John Key to commit to changing the anti-smacking law after a father was the first parent convicted of assault for smacking his 8-year old on the bottom.

    “John Key said that the law should not criminalise good parents for lightly smacking their children,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. “Here we have a young family, an expectant mother, a father attempting to do his very best, and a law which treats him as a criminal rather than a system that offers the support, encouragement and resources they may need.”

    “While community organisations working with at-risk families and Plunket are driven to their knees because of a lack of adequate funding, there seems to be no shortage of resources in investigating good parents who use a light smack.”

    Family First has highlighted five cases already where CYF and Police have conducted intensive investigations of families simply because of supposed ‘abuse’, including a grandmother interviewed by police for smacking a swearing granddaughter in a Warehouse store, three police appearing on the doorstep of a home where a 2 year old was having a bedtime tantrum, and a mother dobbed into CYF by the local school.

    There are similar cases being notified to Family First NZ on a weekly basis.

    “And many parents are confirming that children are telling them “you can’t touch me or I’ll tell the police’”

    “We are creating a ‘paranoid parenting’ environment,” says Mr McCoskrie.

    “This case has confirmed kiwi parents’ worst nightmare. This law will target good parents while child abuse continues at the same rate, and the real causes of family breakdown and stress, drug and alcohol abuse, poverty and other significant issues are ignored.”

    “The predictions made by the many community groups and 83% of NZ’ers opposing this law have, unfortunately, proved true.”

    ENDS

    For More Information and Media Interviews, contact Family First:
    Bob McCoskrie JP – National Director
    Tel. 09 261 2426 | Mob. 027 55 555 42


    22 November 2007 – The Dominion Post – Three smacks and he’s ‘guilty’

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/4283366a10.html

    Three smacks and he’s ‘guilty’
    By TANYA KATTERNS – The Dominion Post | Thursday, 22 November 2007

    A father who spanked his eight-year-old son on the bottom three times for misbehaving at school is one of the first to be convicted of assault under the law against smacking.

    The Masterton man was sentenced to nine months’ supervision yesterday after admitting he had grabbed his son by the shoulder, held him on his knee and hit him with an open hand.

    Green MP Sue Bradford has welcomed the conviction, saying the case is a good example of the May law change working as intended.

    The controversial legislation removed the defence of reasonable force for parents who physically discipline their children.

    But opponents say the conviction is a disgrace.

    Family First national director Bob McCroskrie said parents had every reason to be concerned.

    “It’s the first of what’s going to be many cases of the law targeting good parents. Our predictions have come true.”

    Masterton District Court judge Anthony Walsh told the man, whose wife is expecting their fourth child: “While you may have gotten away with this in the past, it is a case of not now.”

    The father, 33, who has name suppression to protect his son’s identity, smacked his son on October 29. He had returned home from work to hear that his son had caused some problems at school.

    The boy was in his bedroom and his father decided to confront him about his behaviour, the court was told.

    Becoming frustrated, the father grabbed his son’s clothes at the shoulder and pulled him on to the bed.

    The father then flipped the boy over his knee and smacked him three times on the bottom with an open palm, before roughly sitting him back up.

    The eight-year-old had bruising to his shoulder, the court was told.

    The boy’s mother, pregnant with the couple’s fourth child, is understood to have taken a photograph of the bruise and shown it to a relative, who told police several days later.

    The father admitted he had lost his temper. He refused to comment as he left court.

    Judge Walsh, hearing the case in Masterton’s newly established domestic violence court, said the smacking law change had redefined the way old attitudes toward disciplining children were viewed.

    “Our law was recently amended to make it clear that children should be protected. There are other ways that must be taken to discipline children, short of violence, and that means time out and loss of privileges.”

    Judge Walsh told the father: “A lot of us are parents, we know children can be challenging – but we are the adults.”

    The father, who pleaded guilty to assault, and his wife had already sought help with anger management, parenting skills and relationship counselling before yesterday’s sentencing.

    He was sentenced to nine months’ supervision – which means the state will now pay for the counselling.

    The law took effect in June, after National inserted a clause stating police should not prosecute inconsequential smacking, though guidelines for officers do not define “inconsequential”.

    Police were told by their bosses that it would be a matter for the courts to determine in test cases.

    Ms Bradford said she was pleased the case had been prosecuted.

    “Hitting a child is an assault and there is no longer the protection that there used to be where a case like this would never go before the courts.”

    Police national headquarters had no figures on smacking-related convictions since June. A report is being prepared.


    19 November 2007 – The Dominion Post – Hands off our lives say voters

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/4278853a10.html

    Hands off our lives say voters
    By TRACY WATKINS – The Dominion Post | Monday, 19 November 2007

    Voters fear Government is exerting too much control over their lives – and they believe it has got worse in the past two years.

    The finding in the latest Fairfax Media-Nielsen poll suggests the backlash over the so-called anti-smacking bill has left its mark, but could also be a response to the campaign against Labour’s bid to overhaul electoral finance laws with a regime criticised as draconian and a limit on free speech.

    Two thousand people protested in Auckland at the weekend against the Electoral Finance Bill, due to be reported back to Parliament today after being watered down by a select committee.

    In a poll of 1082 voters, people were asked whether the Government had more control over people’s daily lives than they would like and 57 per cent answered yes. A further 37 per cent of voters rejected the proposition and 6 per cent did not know.

    When asked whether the level of control had increased, decreased or stayed the same over the last two years, 61 per cent said it had increased, which points to the smacking debate as a major factor.

    Civil unions, Labour’s push to decriminalise prostitution and even sensitivity over the recent police raids may be other factors.

    Labour has come under concerted attack from National and conservative Christian groups for running a “nanny state” agenda.

    Family Party co-leader Richard Lewis said the Labour Government had continued to ram through unpopular policies.

    “The message I’ve been getting for some time now is that the Government has been stepping into areas they shouldn’t be when it comes to parental responsibility and the balance of rights of New Zealanders,” he said.

    Labour’s backing for the smacking legislation – which removes the defence of reasonable force for parents facing child abuse charges – sparked one of its biggest declines in popularity since it got into government.

    The latest poll shows Labour back on the path to recovery, with 40 per cent support, just 5 points behind National. But it suggests some concerns about government interference have stuck.

    Six months on from the introduction of the new smacking laws, however, those working at the coalface say fears that sparked the backlash have proved unfounded.

    Police are due to release a major review of the change within weeks, but family law and child welfare experts say there has been no noticeable change to the way child violence is being reported.

    There have been just two media reports of possible cases of parents being reported for smacking, with no action taken, while Child, Youth and Family reports there has been no significant rise in child abuse notifications since the law change….


    16 November 2007 – The Family Party – Anti Smacking Law Poses Significant Risks

    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO0711/S00277.htm

    Anti Smacking Law Poses Significant Risks
    Friday, 16 November 2007, 11:07 am
    Press Release: The Family Party

    Richard Lewis, Leader of THE FAMILY PARTY, says a recent report from the Ministry of Social Development that there has not been a “huge increase in numbers of notifications,” since the law was passed in May, is no reflection of the ever-present danger the law poses to New Zealand families.

    “The government is hardly in a position to make credible statements on the affects of a law they rammed through parliament despite overwhelming public opposition. What we do know is that the law has not stopped incidents of abuse in the home. And we also know the law exposes decent, law-abiding parents to significant risk of unwarranted state intervention” says Mr Lewis.

    The anti smacking bill’s architect, Sue Bradford, says a public smack could be a sign of bigger problems occurring behind closed doors. A NZPA report quotes Ms Bradford as saying, “while on the surface it might appear like a simple smack…what we don’t know is what else is happening in that family with that child, or other children, or the mother or some other family member.”

    Mr Lewis says Ms Bradford’s statement reveals the true intent of the law, which is to gain unlimited access into the homes of New Zealand families.

    “This really is another example of state intrusion of the worst kind. Sure, there are legitimate cases of abuse that we are all concerned about. But the police and government departments were already adequately empowered to deal with such cases under the Crimes Act. Bradford’s law gives the state unlimited power to enter a home and scrutinize the lives of decent, law-abiding parents, which is inherently unjust and abusive,” he added.

    Mr Lewis says The Family Party aims to protect the rights and responsibilities of parents.

    ENDS


    9 November 2007 – Family First Disgusted with Ministry of Education Over Sex Abuse

    MEDIA RELEASE
    9 November 2007

    Family First Disgusted with Ministry of Education Over Sex Abuse

    Family First is shocked and disgusted with the actions of the Ministry of Education who knew about allegations of sexual abuse at Hato Paora College but did not instruct the school to contact police.

    It is quite incredible that schools will rush to CYF to report a hand-smack yet are willing to hide a far more serious case of sexual abuse,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

    “Both the Ministry and the Board of Trustees failed to contact the police despite the serious nature of these allegations. Any complaint of this type should be referred automatically to the police so that they can undertake their own investigation.”

    “For a government ministry to hide this information shows just how confused they are in determining real abuse versus the role of parents and reasonable parental correction.”

    This case follows other cases of government inaction in dealing with the real causes and cases of child abuse.

    The Government admitted last year that it was powerless to intervene after it was revealed that teachers with a history of drugs, violence and sex offences had been allowed back into the classroom.

    In July, it was revealed that a teacher convicted of sexually molesting a nine-year-old boy had been supported by his union when he was stood down from an earlier job for looking at child porn, and an art teacher who posted hard-core pornographic pictures of himself and two women on internet sex sites – with messages for girls “the younger the better” to contact him – had been allowed to continue teaching.

    The Post Primary Teachers Association (PPTA) tried to keep the case secret, and the Teachers Council would not reveal the teacher’s name.

    “It’s time the government and its departments figured out the real meaning of abuse, and started targeting it with full resources and an automatic referral to the police,” says Mr McCoskrie. “They are protecting ‘their own’ yet have no problem dobbing in good parents.”

    ENDS

    For More Information and Media Interviews, contact Family First:
    Bob McCoskrie JP – National Director
    Tel. 09 261 2426 | Mob. 027 55 555 42

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