Ideas: Letters to Editors/MPs

Letter to Kathryn Rich, MP from Jacob W.F. Sundberg, Professor of Jurisprudence Emeritus

Letter to Kathryn Rich, MP from Jacob W.F. Sundberg, Professor of Jurisprudence Emeritus

Stockholm, May 24, 2007
Uggelviksgatan 9
S-114 27 Stockholm
Tel. 08-21 62 44, 11 49 89
Fax (+) 46-8-21 38 74

Ms Kathryn Rich, MP
Parliament Buildings
Molesworth Street
Wellington 6160
New Zealand

Fax 0064-4 471 25 51

Dear Ms Rich.

The text of your recent speech in Parliament, given May 16, 2007, was brought to my attention and since it shows a number of misunderstandings of the Swedish legal landscape, I have considered it called for to contribute some clarifications. Hopefully, they will mitigate the application in New Zealand of the Crimes (Substituted Section 59) Amendment Act, and for such reasons I think this letter should be distributed to all the MP:s.

First of all, however, I categorically reject your characterization of Mrs Ruby Harrold- Claesson as a “false expert” and a “fruit loop, to say the least”. You have fallen prey to a smear campaign run in Sweden by some of her adversaries in the social bureaucracy and by their leftist chums in the Faculty of Law in Stockholm, you mention Dr Diesen but there are more of that same breed. On this count, I regret that you have not been aware of my letter of January 11, 2007 to Ms Deborah Coddington which explains the situation, and I feel entitled now to include a copy of that letter for your consideration.

Secondly, as a matter of fact all the examples of bad treatment of children that you mention in your speech seem to be such as fall under the criminalization of assault and battery in Swedish penal law, a long standing criminalization, antedating the legislation of 1979 which you use as a model for the NZ law reform. Consequently, your examples are simply not relevant.

Thirdly, then, what is the 1979 legislation about? The centrepiece is the phrase which I set out in my letter to Ms Coddington “A child may not be exposed to corporal chastisement or other insulting treatment”. You will perhaps recall that when the matter was introduced in Sweden, there was very little Swedish discussion : “Characteristically for Sweden, public debate on the issue was muted” it was said in Time Magazine, April 2, 1979, p. 24. But a parallel to the Swedish legislation was introduced in neighbouring Finland with a very active, Swedish-speaking elite (1983).

This piece of legislation – Act on the custody of children and visiting rights (lag ang. vårdnad om barn och umgängesrätt : FFS 1983 No 361) – has a provision which is almost verbatim a copy of the Swedish provision, but in Finland it released a public discussion among the lawyers responsible for the drafting of the provision which is quite explicit – in contrast to what took place in Sweden. The main purpose of the act as discussed among the Finnish lawyers was to abolish the line of subordination between parents and children. For such reasons, the family tie could never be a defence in case of opposition between parents and child. This had fargoing consequences. You could not do anything to your child that you could not do to a stranger passerby in the street. That includes all forms of punishment, and it is interesting to note that even the question of libel and slander is being discussed, as indeed ‘psychological violence’ practiced upon a child – e.g. ironizing over a child’s stupid remarks. It is true that one expert thought that court cases of children complaining of being libelled and slandered by their parents were unlikely to occur and so far I have not heard of any such cases, but they certainly were possible the way the legislation was drafted. The following categorical remark of the Government’s legal draftsman, Matti Savolainen, would seem to close the discussion : “There is from now no relationship of subordination, no right to force or punish a child that could be a defence against a prosecution” “The relationship of subordination between parents and children is explicitly abolished.”

This emancipation of the children from the family tie should of course be seen in light of the extremes of 1968 atmosphere which pervaded the 1970s in so many places, and to which the Swedish minority Government of 1978 had fallen prey, with a following in finlandized Finland where Marxism was an accepted philosophy in the hope of getting Soviet approval. In that atmosphere, the family unit was seen as an agent of conservatism, standing in the way of society´s quick transformation into true Socialism, and consequently something to undermined and sabotaged by people of the correct mind.

Whether Sweden “benefited” from the reform as you put it, is very much in doubt as I see it. Certainly, it has undermined the family tie with a lot of mischief following. It has turned little children into informers upon their parents, and the social bureaucracy into a super-nanny with a kind of police powers as against the parents. The change in atmosphere may be applauded by leftist circles around, but it is certainly deplored by the families hit by the revolutionary zeal. No figures have ever been given showing any beneficial effect of the legislation. It may be an eye-opener to realize that the situations depicted in the enclosed cartoons represent criminal offences under the present Swedish legislation. The cartoonists do not seem to realize this, nor those do it who propagate for copying the Swedish legislation,

Sincerely yours

Jacob W.F. Sundberg
Professor of Jurisprudence Emeritus

Institutet för offentlig och internationell rätt
Finns på:
Prof. em Jacob W.F. Sundberg nås via e-mail på

Excellent Letter to MPs from Kirsty

Subject: Please, for the sake of New Zealand families, do not allow the Child Discipline Bill to pass into law.

Dear National Party Members of Parliament

The following is an excellent article, and I would urge you to read it – it should take no more than ten minutes of your time – but it shows why the Bill to repeal Section 59 is so dangerous to families in this country and why we must not allow it to pass. The article exposes the ideology that is driving the Bill to repeal Section 59, with or without John Key’s “Claytons” amendment (the amendment you have when you don’t have an amendment).

The “amendment” that John Key supplied provides absolutely no protection or defence of a parent if they are accused, rightly or wrongly, of “smacking” their children. It is simply a tinkering with words. It was deeply disappointing to see the leader of the Opposition colluding with the Labour and Green parties in this matter. What hope does the electorate have of balanced government when there is no effective opposition; when there is no alternative point of view given except that which the State dictates?

This bill is not about protecting children, or dealing with NZ’s child abuse tragedy – it is about allowing government, through government agencies like CYFS, to control individual families and to threaten us with the removal of our children, should we not wish to follow their agendas.

The Bill to repeal Section 59 is of special threat to traditional families, where we seek to forge strong bonds of love, support and commitment within the individual family. We may never be prosecuted for “smacking” our children, but if we are accused of such action, we could well lose custody of our children to a government agency while we battle through the courts to regain our “right” to exist as a family. This is totalitarianism, as seen in Stalinist USSR, Maoist China and Nazi Germany.

I urge you not to allow this travesty of justice to happen here in New Zealand. I urge you to vote with your conscience, not be directed by a party ideology, when the time comes to vote on the Child Discipline/Repeal of Section 59 Bill. Please, for the sake of New Zealand families, do not allow this Bill to pass into law.


How to control adults by means of ‘children’s rights’.

By Lynette Burrows

This article is published by The Human Life Foundation, Inc. New York, in the HUMAN LIFE REVIEW, Vol. XXV, No. 2, Spring 1999, pages 65 – 73. The article is reproduced here with the kind consent of the author.

Lynette Burrows is a well-known English educator and journalist. Her latest book, The Fight for the Family, was published in 1998, revised and reprinted in March 1999 by the Family Education Trust, Family Publications, Oxford, England.

When you think about it, the fashionable crusade of ‘children’s rights’ is bound to be anti-family. It is a movement which declares itself to be more interested in the welfare of children than are ordinary parents. It seeks rights and laws for children that neither they, nor their parents, want.

It promises to give children legal sanctions against their parents and, in so doing, pits the interests of children against their parents. The inescapable implication is that children are not in safe hands with their own parents and that a whole movement has had to be called into being in order to protect them. It is an innocent-sounding piece of subliminal, anti-family propaganda, advertising the fact that parents are, at best, inadequate and, at worst, hostile to the needs of their children.

Analysing the ‘loaded’ message of the title ‘children’s rights’ one can see it attempts to pack the punch of an appeal to both parental feeling and the nobility of action implied by the word
‘rights’. It is utterly bogus! A ‘right is classically defined as ‘the freedom to act without interference, according to one’s conscience.’ It means nothing unless the individual has the capacity to act upon their ‘right’ and children, by nature of their immaturity and inexperience, do not have that capacity.

So they have people who act for them, in the form of the people who created them and who love them more than anyone else. Those people, the adult parents, have a freedom to act according to their conscience, and within the law, with their children and it is that freedom that the children’s rights activists seek to remove.

One can clearly map their intentions by what they have achieved so far and what they are signalling they want to do in the future. I don’t know anything about the American scene but, in Great Britain, and several European countries, among their achievements has been securing the right of the state to allow under-age children to be given contraceptives and abortions without their parents’ knowledge or consent. This remarkable right was not achieved via parliament, which still upholds an ‘age of consent’ at sixteen years. Still less was it achieved by pressure from either parents or children. It was as achieved by the active collaboration of the industry that sells contraceptives, the people who are employed in promoting their use, and the ‘children’s rights’ lobby who claimed that, since children had now decided to be sexually active – there was nothing parents could do about it.

The right for children to ‘divorce’ unsatisfactory parents has also been secured for them by children’s rights lawyers; working on the usual pay-rates but with the bill settled by the taxpayer. So far parents have not been given the right to divorce unsatisfactory children – but that is consistent with the philosophy of children’s rights. It is parents who are failing in their duty to give children the freedom they need. Children, the client group, are not to be criticised or restricted in any way.

Children have also been given the right to take themselves out of the care of their parents and put themselves instead, into the misnamed ‘care’ of the local authority. Just what this can mean was illustrated by a mother, Mrs Iverson, whose14 year old daughter went to live with a 33 year old drug-dealer from Jamaica. She appealed to the local authority to get her daughter back and they responded by getting a social worker to take the child to a contraceptive clinic. The anguished mother could do nothing whilst her daughter was first introduced to a life of prostitution and then, a month later, murdered. No-one in authority was criticised or prosecuted for their lack of action since they, and the police, were prevented from denying the child her ‘right’ to free association, by the Children Act, 1989.

Thus, one can see by their aims and achievements, that the right to behave badly is second only to the right to premature sexual activity, according to the children’s rights agenda. Furtherance of this aim was massively enhanced by the successful campaign of one of the earliest children’s rights groups to get corporal punishment, of even the mildest kind, outlawed in schools. An unwary parliament passed this law by one vote, against a background of generally unproblematic discipline in schools.

Certainly primary schools were little havens of tranquillity and learning for children in even the roughest areas. All this has gone now; together with thousands of good teachers who have fled a profession where harassment of them is the norm rather than the exception in many areas.

Children have, in other words, been given an amazing collection of liberties to behave badly, with absolutely no enforceable obligations to behave themselves or even to observe the law. On the other hand, their misdeeds are providing masses of highly paid work for the now enormous lobby of professionals who are parasitic on the new options available to children and the problems they bring. Any attempt to improve the behaviour of young people, is bound to run into opposition from these professionals since they are defending a financial interest that is dependent upon more of the same.

Another peculiarity of the rights, sought by activists for children, is how extremely limited and arbitrary they are. If these really were rights that any child could legitimately be supposed to need or to want, they would surely start with the right of a child to be born and not to be killed before birth. But all children’s rights activists support abortion in principle and in practice as if, in any circumstances, it could be considered in the unborn child’s best interest.

Then again, any child should surely have a right to enjoy a relationship with both their mother and their father; rather than being created by artificial insemination for the benefit of a lesbian couple. In all the arguments about this still highly contentious practice, and its rather more relevant, related topic, the ability of homosexuals to foster and adopt children, the children’s rights people have been ‘out to lunch’.

Another major area where a serious question of children’s rights are involved, is surely the right of children not to be bullied at school.

Parents protest about it all the time, but little has been done to address their concerns because parents do not belong to well-funded organisations with direct access to the media. 70% of parents were found last year to want corporal punishment restored in school; and so too did 68% of schoolchildren.

The reason for this is, no doubt, because many children are in fact receiving punishment that is decidedly ‘corporal’ in school – but from bullying thugs rather than from lawful authority. The rights activists don’t address this subject because they are so busy monitoring schools for signs of homophobia, sexism or racism that they seem to have overlooked the much larger number of children who are simply terrified of the big boys.

Other areas deserving attention from those who could support parents in wanting the best for their children, would be having a flexible school leaving age and having the right to do work outside of school hours. Even more important, amongst the list of glaring omissions in the children’s rights agenda, is the care and protection of children who have been taken into council care.

The Social Services Inspectorate presented a report last year that pointed out just how badly children ‘in care’ are doing. Despite there being only 0.5% of children in local authority care, 22% of young men in prison and 39% of prisoners under 21 have been in care. One third of people sleeping rough in London have been in care and one quarter of children in care aged 14 or over, don’t go to school regularly. For some reason, referred to in the report but not explained, many of those who abscond from children’s homes, somehow disappear from local authority records thereafter.

When this report came out, there was much public discussion about this parlous state of affairs and many people commented on the lack of independent monitoring to safeguard vulnerable children. None that I saw, even thought to question the complete lack of involvement or interest in this scandal by the many, high-profile, publicly funded, children’s rights organisations. There are many areas of pressing need in relation to disadvantaged children, where parents with the best will in the world, simply have no power to get things done. Well-funded organisations with premises, facilities, telephones, full time staff and, above all, access to the media, could do so much of real value if they wanted to; but our current crop do not. So, one has to ask, what do they really want?

The answer to this must be that it is something ideological as well as something financial. The financial objective is fairly straight-forward.

It has provided a good many jobs and the children’s rights activists have certainly found themselves a career. My book, The Fight for the Family, (a second edition of which came out in March) started life as a commissioned chapter in a book about social affairs. I was given a researcher (American) and told to find out about the principle children’s rights groups; who formed them, who supported them and who paid for them.

Once we began, we found a scene so entirely different from what we had expected, that we became seriously interested and what had started out as a fairly hum-drum piece of research turned into a fascinating lesson in the modus operandi of pressure groups. It also ballooned into a small book.

For a start we discovered that all the principle groups concerned with this characteristically liberal/left version of children’s rights, groups were founded or co-founded by one man, and his domestic ‘partner’, mostly as limited companies.

Their friends and colleagues over the years were spread amongst child care charities and government committees and one, or both, turned up on the boards of all eight of the principal organisations promoting their version of ‘children’s rights’. Their ideological orientation explained why the narrow agenda they pursued in every case was so similar. It also explained why the basic assumption was always that children needed to be ‘liberated’ from their parents care and control.

Not having chosen to get married themselves, despite having children, it is fair to say that they have some rooted objection to marriage as an institution or, at least, believe that it is not important.

These groups have played an important part in promoting all the rights referred to above relating to premature sexual activity and behaving badly. One of the organisations was exclusively devoted to securing the abolition of corporal punishment in schools and, that having been achieved, its funds were transferred to another organisation, End Physical Punishment of Children, (EPOCH) which is the principle driving force behind attempts to get parental smacking of children criminalised.

The part of my book which really enraged rights activists, however, was not the discussion of their ideological bent, which they did not seem to dispute. It was the fact that attention was drawn to the similarity of their aims to those of the paedophile organisations of the 1970’s, which were prosecuted and suppressed in 1980.

As a matter of fact, the similarities are striking and, whilst I was not claiming that children’s rights activists were all paedophiles, it is nevertheless evident that their campaigns have been useful to those who want greater sexual access to children. ‘Unwitting’ was the word I used to describe the direct help given to paedophiles by the de facto abolition of the age of consent for girls in the matter of providing them with contraceptives at school. Now it is proposed to apply the same age of consent law to boys for homosexual activity, we will no doubt see its defacto abolition too.

However, it was after the book was sold out that the response to the publishers began to make another aspect of ‘children’s rights’ clear. It was always obvious that the welfare of children was very low on most of the activists’ agenda.

Otherwise they would have been doing honest research to discover whether the freedoms advocated by them for children, were actually beneficial. They would also have been much more interested in whether breaking up families was the best response to anything but clear law-breaking on the part of parents, not to mention whether local authority care was better for children than a normal, even strict, home.

Now, like a voice from beyond the grave, we suddenly heard that Sweden had, at long last, developed a protest movement against the things that were being done to them in the name of children’s rights. I don’t know if it is the same in America, but here and in Europe, Sweden has always been held up as a paragon of ‘progressive’ innovation. It is referred to in reverential tones by liberals everywhere and children’s rights activists place particular emphasis on the beneficial effects of their 1979 law which forbade parents to smack their children. According to their
literature, no parents have ever been imprisoned or otherwise penalised for having laid a hand on their children and there is no cause for concern anywhere.

Well, it isn’t true! An organisation of academics, lawyers, doctors and other professionals have formed ‘The Nordic Committee for Human Rights’, which is principally concerned with human rights abuses in Sweden, the most powerful and influential of the Nordic nations. They have a website ( where you can read all about it in English. They point out several crucial, historical factors. Notably that the Nazi’s copied a good deal of their social policy from the Swedes; particularly that part of it which saw children as belonging to ‘the parental state’ rather than to its parents. The family too was viewed with dislike since it encouraged thoughts and actions that were not prescribed by the state.

Unmarried mothers had their babies automatically taken away from them and an organisation called ‘Save the Children’ was begun during the 1930’s in Sweden, which was, contrary to expectation, profoundly anti-family. What children had to be ‘saved’ from, were the imperfections of their natural parents and the oppressive and un-enlightened atmosphere of a normal family. That has a familiar ring to it, doesn’t it?

They were also very enamoured of eugenics and the idea of a perfect racial type.

Unbeknown to the rest of the world, the Swedish government pursued a policy of forced sterilisation of children it thought came from poor stock, until 1976. What a surprise for liberals everywhere when the fact came out, only last year, that more than 60,000 children had, in that way, been cleansed of their ability to procreate .

Few people had any idea that the Swedish government had the power to maintain such secrecy when it also had a relatively free press. One can hazard a guess that the truth only emerged finally because a couple of sad individuals, who had been deprived of their birthright by being sterilised when they were children in care, sued the government for compensation for what was done for them. Victims have now been promised the princely sum of £7,000 apiece.

The Nordic Committee, under its energetic and fearless chairman Ruby Harrold-Claesson, has at last broken open many of the other half-truths that the Swedish authorities are still putting about. She is a lawyer – incidentally, the only black one in Sweden – and has dredged up a lot of the figures relating to the seizure of children by the authorities. These are difficult to obtain because they are not recorded in the normal, criminal courts. Hence the ability of the children’s rights people to claim that there have been no prosecutions under the 1979 law. Children are taken away under the auspices of an administrative court which, in the public interest, of course, keeps the figures safely out of reach of most people.

To give you an idea of the scale of the tyranny over the family, it is necessary to describe the context. Sweden has a population of eight million; it is also extremely homogenous as to race and no people in Europe are more clearly identifiable by their appearance alone. It has virtually no poverty, wall to wall welfare and no large cities. The capital city has a population of less than two million and the second city has one hundred and fifty thousand people. There should be, in fact, very few cases where children need to be taken from their parents. Yet, in 1981 the authorities seized 22,000 children; which represents a rate of seizure 86 times greater than that of West Germany. An equivalent figure for America would be, by that reckoning, more than 687 thousand – in one year!

No doubt the authorities had such a field day because of the number of children who had been smacked by their parents before the 1979 Act came in. The figure fell somewhat after that but, in 1995, it was 14,700 children removed from their homes. That is a rate 57 times that of Germany and, in American terms, would be nearly 500 thousand children. A mind-boggling number for the rest of the world to contemplate and a clear explanation why so few people in Sweden either get married or have children.

Yet why is this so little known? From time to time there is brief publicity of the abuses of Sweden, before liberals return to their uncritical admiration of it.

Unfortunately for the oppressed everywhere, the liberal/left always treasures its heroes – even when they are murderous tyrants – so it will take some time, and a lot of repetition, for the truth to rise to the surface.

Another stalwart of the Nordic Committee, Siv Westerberg, has taken eight cases to the Court of Human rights at Strasborg, and has won seven times.

The Readers Digest featured one of her cases in 1993. It involved three children who were abducted by the authorities whilst they were at school.

They were sent to separate families 600 miles away and it took the parents 5 months even to find out where they were. No specific reason was ever given for why they had been taken; just that it was in their ‘best interest’. It took seven years before the parents were able to get their case to the European Court, which found in their favour. The parents were awarded £33,000 compensation and the Swedish authorities were told to return the children to their parents. The eldest, who was then 17, was allowed home but the other two were not. This is the system that we are being asked to admire and follow!

By a striking coincidence, on the very day the organisation that published my book held a conference to discuss its findings, the BBC asked to do an interview with me about the smacking debate. Since I was tied up with the conference, they decided to interview me in a side room during the lunch break and, accordingly sent an interviewer and crew. I took the opportunity to introduce them to Ruby Harrold-Claesson, who was one of the principle speakers at the conference and she gave them a brief run-down of what she was saying about Sweden.

The team looked uncomfortable and, when I suggested that they include an interview with her to beef-up the debate, they said they already had been to Sweden and would be including an account of things there, as part of the programme.

When we watched the programme a few days later, sure enough, there they were in Sweden interviewing a handful of schoolchildren who confirmed that their parents were not allowed to smack them. They then asked a senior official about whether many children had been taken from their families as a result of the anti-smacking law. Laughing uproariously, she waved her hand around her, ‘Can you see many children being taken?’ she said. And that was supposed to be a sufficient answer.

After this, the missing brick fell into place! The question was always, why are the children’s rights people so concerned to make the parental right to smack their children illegal? Most of their organisations have been more or less devoted to the subject despite the fact that 90% of good and caring parents say that it is necessary at times. Now the answer is clear.

It is a device which places most parents in the power of social workers.

They are, by training and tradition, Marxist, feminist, and anti-religious. They don’t much care for the family and lend their weight on every possible occasion to arguments and devices that show it in a bad light. In this country, they are still opposed to the inclusion, in official statistics, of figures which show the precise nature of the relationship of abusers to the children they abuse. At present, they are simply called ‘fathers’, even though they are seldom genetic fathers and, even more seldom, genetic fathers actually married to the mother of their children. The traditional family is still the safest place for any child to be – but you would not know it from official literature on the subject.

Thus, anybody who wanted to further a Marxist, feminist agenda, could not do better than to have most families in thrall to social workers. The right to browbeat parents because they smack their children when they think it necessary, as the Bible tells them they must, would be all an officious bureaucracy needed to infantilise the majority of adults. It is not about the elevation of children’s rights at all. It is about the crushing of adult ones.

It is a particularly crafty bandwagon to set on the road because it has drawn support from so many unpleasant but powerful allies.

Contraceptive-selling commerce has welcomed and supported them; paedophiles love them; and as for those government employees engaged in the job of directing, but not curbing, the rising tide of young people in trouble – they simply could not do without them.

Baby-snatching, as it has always been called, is almost bound to be due for a make-over in the years to come. There has been in increase in infertility amongst the young that would be considered alarming if we were not still so fixated with the idea of over-population; plus the fact that the ‘wrong’ sort of people are still having babies, particularly out of wedlock. This rise must be due, at least in part, to the powerful steroids being given to young girls to ensure their continuance as sexually active people. Also because of the extraordinary increase in the sexually transmitted diseases which cause barrenness in women and sterility in men.

Evils have a habit of happening one upon the other and it is an ironic observation made by the Nordic Committee for Human rights, that one of the reasons it is so easy to find foster-carers for the thousands of ‘snatched’ children in Sweden, is a political one. Successive social policy makers have scorned the role of wife and mother for many years. A woman loses all child benefits if she refuses to place her children in a crèche and she would feel very vulnerable to having them taken away too. Unless of course she had a very well-paid job to do there – looking after other people’s stolen children.

It is incongruous, isn’t it? To build your home on the ruins of someone else’s. No wonder Scandinavian dramatists at the turn of the century were always so gloomy; they must have sensed what was coming.

Letter to MPs from Saudi Arabia

Dear Prime Minister and Members of Parliament

I just receive a news that you may voting on May 16 for a Bill that will make illegal for parents to correct their children, this mean remove from the parents their duty of educated the children in the good behavior.

Please, do not make of New Zealand a country where the family will be debilitate, a country where children did not respects the elders. God has giving to the parents the authority to educate the children, not do try to go against God wills, this is not the smart decision.

I am afraid that if this re-written Section 59-Parental Control, becomes a law, I will never travel to your country, will be no more a save place to visit.

Please, Vote for the Families,


Telephone Saudi Arabia
Cellphone Todd
Address Saudi Arabia:
Al Khobar 31952, Saudi Arabia


—– Original Message —–
From: David Lane
Sent: Wednesday, May 09, 2007 8:53 AM

Urgent Attention
John Key
National Party Leader



Dear Mr John Key

The Eathorne’s tragic case (see press release copied to all National MPs below) shows what can happen when police discretion is misapplied – charges (of assault on a child under 14 years s. 194 of Crimes Act) were pursued for inconsequential domestic force – and good parents were criminalised (convictions and heavy fines were issued).

Of course this (unsound use of discretion) can happen under the current Crimes Act relating to s. 194 but at least a s.59 defence is actually open to parents NOW if they find themselves facing charges for using “unreasonable force” in the correction of their children (assault) and they believe they have done nothing more than apply reasonable force for correction in the circumstances. Under s. 59 (2) “The reasonableness of the force used is A QUESTION OF FACT”. Under Bradford’s flawed bill, even with the new amendment, in Court cases where it can be established that some element of correction was involved the question of “reasonableness” is NOT a question of fact that can be examined by the Court.

If Bradford’s flawed bill becomes law there is NO defence open to such a parent, IF police, following a misapplication of their discretion, lay charges for force used for correction. (We are assuming here that there are facts that provide compelling evidence contra the police. that in reality the incident was (1) “inconsequential” in terms of force used and (2) not in the “public interest” to pursue. The problem is that 1 & 2 remain undefined! and these facts CANNOT be tested in Court).

Under Bradford’s legislation – once in place …….

A good and honest parent charged with assault for using what he/she genuinely believed at the time was only inconsequential force for correction, would be doing wrong not to plead guilty in Court of committing an “offence” under the Crimes Act. Why? Because the use of all force in such circumstances involving correction is defined as a criminal “offence” – an ILLEGAL act. There is NO defence open to them. They have no alternative if they wish to be dealt with leniantly by the Court. Like the Eathornes they face the full wrath of the Court Judge who made an example of them. All the police prosecutor has to do, goaded by CYFS, is to establish that the force had some sort of consequenes e.g. the child cried or felt aggrieved, so therefore the incident was NOT inconsequential.

Inconsequential means WITHOUT consequennces.

HOWEVER, a (disciplinary) smack is supposed to hurt and cause some minor discomfort. A smack with a wet bus ticket for wrongdoing does not constitute correction. The vast majority of NZ parents (> 80%) believe they should have a right in law – a justification – for using firm but fair corporal discipline where reasonable force is applied – eg a firm hard smack to the open hand or padded back-side. Bradford’s bill would remove any and all such justification and brand all parents who use force for correction as those who commit illegal acts (crimes).

Just in case you think that a clever defence lawyer COULD argue that the force was “incosequential” therefore there should be no conviction…. THis is NOT an option. The questions of whether the force was “inconsequential” or in “the public interest” is NOT A QUESTION oF FACT; they are only matters that inform police discretion PRIOR to charging the offender. AGAIN THEY ARE NOT MATTERS OF FACT.

In the current law section 2 states: “THE REASONABLENESS OF THE FORCE USED IS A QUESTION OF FACT.”

The Court decision CANNOT turn on either of these questions. Why? Because they NOT questions of fact. The police, by proceeding with the prosecution have passed over these issued and settled these matters. They cannot cannot be revisited in Court as a ground for concluding that no offence was committed.

The person charged, has nowhere to turn in law to secure a line of defence.



Yours sincerely

David Lane
Society for Promotion of Community Standards Inc.

8 May 2007 – Letter to MPs

Dear Prime Minister and Members of Parliament

Ms Bradford said she was ”over the moon” with the development and said it was a tribute to MMP that all parties were able to work out a compromise.
“The children of New Zealand will be safe.”

The children of New Zealand will NOT be safe:

1. This will make no difference to the children who are savagely beaten and violently abused every day. Most of their parents have not been listening to this debate. Mostly they don’t listen to or watch the news. They mostly watch videos and pornography. This kind of abuse is already illegal.

2. It will make no difference to the nearly 18,000 babies that are violently pulled apart in the womb every day in New Zealand. Why do the people who are so concerned about amending Section 59 do nothing about these defenceless babies?

3. Some children of good parents will be torn from their loving parents and put into CYFs care where they will be abused. Will that be an MPs children? Some parents will be criminalized. Or will an MP volunteer to be the first family to go to court as a test case for lightly smacking their children or putting their children in “Time Out” against their will. I think not.

Barbara Smith
Palmerston North

Letter to Prime Minister from Timaru Lady

Dear Ms Clark,

I refer to your many comments in the media in respect of repeal of S59 about people hitting their children with riding crops and getting off.

I am the mother who disciplined her son with the riding crop. This was controlled discipline, not an angry assault. My son had just swung a baseball bat at his stepfathers head. He could have killed my husband.

After the discipline we had a well behaved, loving and compliant boy. A riding crop is designed to give a stinging sensation but is not injurious. There were no marks left on my son at all.

I may have been acquitted, but I certainly have not “got off”. Even though I was acquitted CYF seized custody of my son, tore our family apart and nearly three years later I am still fighting to have him returned as CYF do not agree with the fact I physically disciplined, even though all forms of non physical discipline had not worked with this child and this was the only thing that did.

My almost 15 year old son is desperate to be at home where he feels loved and secure.

I am a responsible Mum who dearly loves her children. My sons behaviour was unacceptable. I corrected it. Repeal of S59 removes a parents ability to correct a child. Many politicans have lied about our case in order to bolster their agendas.

I am fed up with people who were not party to the facts of our case using it as a reason to make a very bad law change.

We have been through hell at the hands of CYF.

My son was placed on Risperdal whilst in CYF care to modify his behaviour. This has been banned in the states for use on children because of the life threatenning side effects. The side effects of Risperdal and the psychological damage to him by being removed from a family who love him, were much worse than the thirty second sting to his bottom.

I am still fighting for my son to be returned to my custody. The hell we have been through at the hands of CYF is a worse punishment than any the court could have issued if I had been found guilty.

Please do not for one moment think I got off. CYF have seen that I did not.

I ask that you reconsider your stance on repeal of S59.

Your constituents do not support your stance according to online polls.

If you support repeal you are supporting the destruction of many more families through state intervention as the police will involve CYF (as they do already) when investigating complaints. Even if the complaints are unfounded CYF will still hold children from their parents. I know this as I am a support worker for PANIC (parents against negative intervention of CYF) and have seen many cases like this.

Ms Clark you are not a Mum, so you can only speculate what hell it is for a parent to have her child taken away. This punishment is worse than any that could be inflicted on a parent, short of a child dying.

I might have been acquitted but have been punished as if guilty.

Please do not quote our case again, unless you are properly representing the facts. Tell the public how the state have punished me even though I was found NOT GUILTY.

If you wish to discuss any part of this email with me, please call me on……

Sample Letters To Editors

We intend to post here examples of good letters to editors, regarding Sue Bradford’s anti-parental authority bill, to give you an idea of what to include in your own letters, in terms of putting good arguments together. Remember, editors require you to include your name and address before they will publish your letter. Click on the link below to see the first of our samples:

Sample 1 (actual letter to a newspaper editor)

Sample 2

Dear Editor

It is ironic, that Sue Bradford and the Greens, most of Labour, CYFS,
Barnardo’s, Save the Children, EPOCH, Plunket, Play Centres, etc, etc, ad
nauseum, want to use unreasonable force, to force parents not to correct
their children using reasonable force!


Sample 3

Published in the NZ Herald today (25 October 2006) – Letter to Editor

Well done to Lincoln Tan for his excellent assessment of Sue Bradford’s ‘anti-smacking’ Bill or perhaps a better title “Criminalise Good Parents Who Smack Bill”.

Tan is able to objectively assess the Bill for 3 reasons. Firstly, unlike the Children’s and Families Commissioners and organisations like Plunket, Barnados and Save the Children, he doesn’t rely on the government for funding so he can speak up honestly and break through the ‘political correctness’ stranglehold.

Secondly, he has young children and knows the realities of family life, and the difference between reasonable and appropriate discipline, and child abuse. (Even the Children’s Commissioner acknowledges smacking her children, but has conveniently forgotten why).

And thirdly, Tan has seen in public the effect of a lack of discipline from parents too afraid to say no. We have all seen the impact of a ‘child’s rights’ culture which has weakened the authority of parents and increased the level of defiance and disrespect shown by young people towards teachers, police and anyone in authority.

Bradford’s Bill will just make this 10 times worse.

Bob McCoskrie
Family First – National Director

Sample Letters To MPs

Sample 1

Subject: Please vote against repealing Section 59 of the Crimes Act

RE Bill to Repeal Section 59 of the Crimes Act.

Please vote against this bill.

It is not a bill to stop violence against children. Laws against violence to
children already exist.

It is a bill to remove all authority from parents, and to make all parents,
especially good parents, criminals by definition.

Yours Sincerely

From: MP
To: R
Subject: Re: Please vote against repealing Section 59 of the Crimes Act

Thanks for your email. Repealing s59 will not criminalise normal parents. Every time a parent sends a reluctant child to their room for ‘time out’ the offence of kidnapping is committed but of course the police do not intervene.

From: R
To: MP
Subject: RE: Please vote against repealing Section 59 of the Crimes Act

Hi MP,

Section 59 at present legitimises ‘reasonable force’. Unreasonable force is already illegal. With reasonable force repealed, then no force is legitimate.

As no correction can be done without force being applied, all correction will be illegitimate, and thus all parents will be criminalised.

At present, ‘time out’ is not kidnapping! It is allowed for by the use of ‘reasonable force’.

With S59 repealed, forcing a child into time out may very well become ‘kidnapping’. It will definitely become a criminal activity, whether police prosecute or not – which is beside the point. That is why I said all parents will become criminals ‘by definition’. A person who commits a criminal offence is a criminal whether caught or charged or not.


No, I’m sorry – you are wrong in law – s59 merely provides a defence to the crime of common assault. Kidnapping is a completely different provision in the crimes Act. (from MP)

Thanks for your reply.

Could you please clarify. Are you saying that ‘time out’ is already a criminal activity through being in actual fact ‘kidnapping’? Thus parents who use ‘time out’ are already criminals in law – and not protected by S59?

I did not introduce the ideas of ‘time out’ or kidnapping. I was addressing the use of ‘reasonable force’. If ‘reasonable force’ is repealed, what is now legitimate ‘reasonable force’ will become common assault – a criminal activity. This it seems to me would include the reasonable force used to correct a child by ‘reasonably forcing’ them into ‘timeout’ or to ‘stand in the corner’.

Parents will become criminals by definition – guilty of assault – by using such force, whether charged or not. A person is a criminal because they commit criminal activities, not because they are caught or charged for doing so.

It is not good for parents that they are criminals by definition – nor is it good for children. The Bill to repeal s59 should be voted down.

from R
Thanks – kidnapping occurs when another is confined against their will. Force often accompanies an act of kidnapping but not necessarily.(from MP)
[R] I don’t see how kidnapping can occur without force. Force is not necessarily physical manhandling. It can be threats and intimidation where one ‘forces’ their will on another. Assault provisions include such things.

[MP] You become a criminal when convicted of a crime. A crime has two elements – the action and the thought accompanying the action – both elements must work in tandem.
[R] I beg to differ. Being convicted may very well be the formally identification of a person as a criminal. However since certain actions are defined as criminal, when those actions are committed, the person who commits them becomes a criminal by doing so. The law can’t get at thoughts, only actions, and thus it is actions that are against the law, though in totalitarian states people are convicted for ‘thoughts’.

[MP] You give the impression of sincere and caring – you are most unlikely to act in a criminal way.
[R] Hope so and agreed. However if s59 is removed, if I corrected my grandchildren, I would be acting in a criminal way according to the law. I would be prepared to break such a law because it is perverse, and contrary to a higher law. Repeal of s59 will further lower respect for the law.

[MP] S59 provides a very narrow defence – that is of correction which differs from discipline. It is a difficult provision in practice.
[R] Correction is a specific part of discipline, which is a broader concept.

[MP] The police do not investigate every criminal allegation – they have a filtering process. They act only on complaint. What happens in the home tends to stay in the home. The fact of someone complaining about a parents relationship with their child is unusual and is indicative of underlying problems and the matters about which you write do not fall into that category.
[R] I’m not sure about whether you are wanting to allay my fears here. But you have not.

With section 59 gone, what happens in the home most definitely will not stay in the home. And anyway, there are plenty of times correction needs to occur outside the home, in public. All that is needed is for some individual who has an over inflated sense of their own righteousness, such as many social workers, teachers, or just common busybodies, to dob a parent in and police will have to act. The classic case of the ‘Timaru riding crop woman’ had the police reluctant to prosecute but they were pressured to do so. And she still hasn’t got her children back, even after being acquitted!!!

Also children could very well dob in their parents without understanding the consequences either for themselves or their parents. This is documented in Sweden, and even though the children have tried to withdraw the complaints, they have not been allowed to.

(Apparently a ruling as just been established in Nebraska where smoking is banned and people are being encouraged to ring 911 [111] to dob people in they see smoking!!!)

[MP] If you have little trust in the police, then you must consider a further restraint on their decision making and that is the courts. Judges are intolerant of trifling prosecutions and have powers to address that issue – these powers are rarely used because the police a very responsible organisation
[R] I would like to think of the police as a ‘very responsible organisation’. However they are just normal human beings, with all the foibles any of us have. ‘Abuse’ of children is not a trifling matter, and that is what normal parental correction will become if S59 is removed. I have witnessed police abuse of people. I do not wear rose coloured glasses.

[MP] I replied to your original email because there is much scaremongering and it appears to me for a different agenda.
[R] There is very widespread concern (polls show consistently over 80%) about what is in store if s59 is repealed. I think these fears and concerns are justified and are not the result of scar mongering at all, and is why I encourage you to vote against repeal.

Emphatically the repeal of section 59 is for a different agenda than that stated. If it really was about child abuse, all the present laws against child abuse would be being used, and abortion, the ultimate in child abuse would be opposed most vigourously. This is certainly not happening.

All the best


Sample 2

Parliament Buildings

Dear Prime Minister and Members of Parliament,

In EPOCH’s media release of 24 August 2006 they say “During the debate about whether or not to repeal s.59, some New Zealanders have expressed a fear that decent, loving parents would be criminalized for minor physical punishment of their children, if s.59 were repealed. That fear was based on an assumption that parents who smack their child would be reported to the Police and that every report would result in a prosecution.“

This can be likened to speeding on New Zealand roads:

Is it illegal to go over 100 km per hour? Yes it is.

Do New Zealanders travel faster than 100 km per hour? Yes they do.

Do they all get prosecuted? No they don’t.

Only the ones that are caught or reported on are prosecuted.

Do Police have blitzes to crack down on speeding? Yes.

This would be the same if a parent lightly smacked their child if Section 59 is repealed. Parents will continue to smack their children:

Will they all be prosecuted? No, definitely no.

Will some be prosecuted? Yes, definitely yes.

If some are brought to the notice of the Police then they will have to
prosecute and it will be a crime in the absence of Section 59 which
could mean up to two years in jail. But even worse than the parent being
put in jail is the fact that CYFS would most likely put the children in
foster care. This is violence that we cannot tolerate. Reasonable force
is not violence. But taking children from parents who have used
Reasonable Force to correct their children is violence.

There are already laws against those who abuse children. Maybe these can be tightened up more.

So please vote against the repealing of Section 59 and leave it as it is. It is a brilliant piece of legislation. Those who drew this up are to be congratulated on writing a piece of legislation that has lasted through the years and one that does not exclude anyone’s worldview.

Barbara Smith

Sample 3

24 October 2006

Dear Prime Minister and Members of Parliament

Please keep Section 59 of the Crimes Act 1961

The worst abuse of children is in the womb.

We have a Children’s Commissioner, Dr Cindy Kiro who is doing nothing for any baby/child in the womb. She says that her job begins at the birth of a child. I showed in my original submission to the Select Committee in the UNCROC preamble and Articles 1, 2, 6, and 24 that the unborn should be a concern of the Children’s Commissioner. Dr Cindy Kiro should be sacked for ignoring the gross violence occurring every day of every year in this country to at least 17,000 children yearly.

Repealing Section 59 will not stop the roughly 12 child murders a year happening in New Zealand. It hasn’t in Sweden and it won’t in New Zealand. This is “Household Structure Violence”.

Repealing Section 59 won’t stop the most gross of all child abuse in New Zealand-the 17,000 abortions.

These are the areas that need to be worked on, not the law abiding conscientious natural family.

Please keep section 59 as it is.

Barbara Smith

Sample 4

From: R
Sent: Monday, 23 October 2006 05:04 p.m.
To: MPs
Subject: Please vote against repealing Section 59 of the Crimes Act

RE Bill to Repeal Section 59 of the Crimes Act.

Please vote against this bill.

It is not a bill to stop violence against children. Laws against violence to
children already exist.

It is a bill to remove all authority from parents, and to make all parents,
especially good parents, criminals by definition.

Yours Sincerely

From: An MP
Sent: Tuesday, 24 October 2006 8:56 a.m.
To: R
Subject: RE: Please vote against repealing Section 59 of the Crimes Act

Thanks for your email. I do support the repeal of s59 Crimes Act 1961.



From: R
Sent: Tuesday, 24 October 2006 9:13 a.m.
To: An MP
Subject: RE: Please vote against repealing Section 59 of the Crimes Act

So…can I clarify, you support stripping parents of authority making them
unable to legitimately correct their children, and turning parents who do
correct their children into criminals by definition?


Sample 5

Dear Prime Minister and Members of Parliament,

Please consider that the Bill to repeal Section 59 of the Crimes Act is thoroughly irrational:

It does nothing to reduce violence at all, violence which is already illegal…..go for the drug and alcohol abuse, the family breakdowns, the porn industry.

It will re-define those thousands of parenting activities that require “reasonable force”….carrying a reluctant child to bed, making an objecting child finish its veggies, forcing a rebellious pre-teen to take off that obscene t-shirt…..into acts of criminal assault.

Since repeal would drastically lower the threshhold of what constitutes assault (there no longer being a legal definition of acceptable or “reasonable” force), any show of force at all will fall under the definition of assault and will in fact increase the occurrence of “violence” against children. That must inevitably, logically lead to an increase in parents falling foul of the law.

Please vote against the Bill to repeal Section 59….Keep Section 59 just as it is.


Craig Smith
PO Box 9064
Palmerston North

Sample 6

Dear Prime Minister and Members of Parliament,

The reason given for wanting to repeal Section 59 of the Crimes Act, and even for wanting to more closely define “reasonable force” is to reduce violence toward children. Often reference is also made to our responsibilities under the UN Declaration on the Rights of the Child (UNCROC).

Can anyone among the MPs explain why UNCROC is brought up in relation to parental physical discipline, even though this is not addressed at all in the UNCROC document nor was it addressed or even brought up in the preparatory works of UNCROC?

And can anyone among the MPs explain why they think allowing 17,000 mothers a year to premeditate upon, hunt down and kill their own unborn children is not rapidly forming a culture of death and destruction to the most innocent and vulnerable members of our society when UNCROC does in fact address this? UNCROC says in its preamble that “the child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth.”

The Greens and Labour especially appear grossly inconsistent to worry about children getting smacked for disciplinary reasons, but totally ignore over 17,000 a year who are purposefully hunted down and killed because they are inconvenient.

To many New Zealanders, this is far worse than being inconsistent: it is sickeningly immoral.


Craig Smith
4 Tawa St.
Palmerston North
(06) 357-4399

Sample 7

Dear Prime Minister and Members of Parliament,

Those promoting the repeal of Section 59 make the incredulous statement that the purpose of changing the law is education rather than prosecution.

This is simply daft.

The law does educate, yes, but it only does so by punishing law-breakers.

As long as some parents are prosecuted for using reasonable force to correct, train and discipline their children, other parents will learn either to avoid using reasonable force or to avoid being noticed by going underground.

Isn’t it interesting how in these enlightened times, homosexuality and prostitution are no longer criminalized and driven underground, but these pro-repeal of Section 59 groups are keen to criminalize parents and drive them underground?

Please do the sensible thing and vote against the repeal of Section 59. Section 59 is a brilliant piece of legislation: keep it as it is.


Craig S. Smith
4 Tawa St.
Palmerston North

Sample 8

Dear Prime Minister and Members of Parliament,

I’ve seen the letter from past Police Commissioner Robinson which said that if Section 59 of the Crimes Act is repealed, smacking will be an assault. I’ve also seen the letter in which current Police Commissioner Broad says that Commissioner Robinson’s comments were both accurate and authoritative.

Bradford made a point of saying in her Bill’s Explanatory Note that the purpose of repeal is so that smacking would then be subject to Section 194(a) of the Crimes Act which says assault on a child is worth as much as two years in jail.

Now Bradford, who has vehemently opposed any idea of defining “reasonable force”, has herself come up with a definition, “light smacks”, which she says won’t be counted by police as acts of assault. Well, anyone reading the legal definition of assault in Section 2 of the Crimes Act knows how ridiculous that assertion is.

The justification of this Bill is becoming increasingly irrational. Can any MP please explain how Bradford’s “light smacks” do not constitute a definition of “reasonable force” and also how “light smacks” do not qualify as assault when Police Commissioners Robinson and Broad both appear to say they will?

Thanks for your help.


Craig Smith

Sample 9

“Re: Proposed repeal of section 59 (parental use of reasonable force)

Dear Prime Minister and Members of Parliament,

A. Repeal of s59 unlikely to have intended effect

I am an Emergency Department doctor and the father of a 3-year-old son.

In the course of my work, I occasionally encounter non-accidental injuries such as brain haemorrhage or long-bone fractures to young children. These are tragedies which should never be allowed to happen. However, these are already illegal under the current legislation because they are certainly not “reasonable force”, so repealing section 59 wouldn’t prevent them.

B. Repeal of s59 likely to have unintended effects

On the other hand, I am deeply concerned at the unintended effects that the repeal of section 59 would have. It would become illegal to firmly hold the hand of a resistant child while crossing the road; and illegal to swat the hand of a 1-year-old who repeatedly reaches for hazardous items despite being told “No”.

I recently spent two months working in Queensland Australia, where reasonable force on children has been illegal for some time. It was noticeable that most parents attending our Emergency Department were unable to control their small children. Toddlers would refuse to take essential oral medications despite cajoling, and the nurses and parents would simply give up. (In New Zealand and other states of Australia, the staff will carefully overpower the child and squirt the medication into their mouth). Children would sometimes come up to my son in public playgrounds and either hit him or take his own toys away from him, and their parents would just stand by—what could they do?

Non-compliance in young children can be lethal: a two-year-old girl was reported in the Queensland media earlier this year as having been killed by dogs because she climbed over two fences to get to the dogs’ enclosure. In two months in Queensland I personally treated two cases of 1-year-old children who had pulled down hot liquids onto themselves, causing significant burns. While every reasonable step should be taken to make a child’s environment safe, it is not feasible to make a typical home as safe as a padded cell. I believe it is better for a child to be trained to be compliant—including the careful use of reasonable force when necessary—rather than go without essential medications or be scalded or killed by dogs. I see far more children who have injured themselves through non-compliance, than I see of children injured by their parents.

I therefore urge you not to support the repeal of section 59 because repealing it would not reduce intentional physical injury to children and would probably increase accidental injury rates.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Graham Paul, MB ChB Otago 1989, BSc Hons(1) Canterbury 1982.”


Chester Borrows’ media statement of 11 October 2006 read:


National MP Chester Borrows will seek to introduce an amendment to Sue Bradford’s Crimes (Abolition of Force as Justification for Child Discipline) Amendment Bill.

It is clear from listening to submissions and comments in the media from proponents that both sides want the same things:
To send a message that child abuse is wrong while accepting that legislation alone won’t stop it.
To stop parents who moderately and seriously assault their children from hiding behind section 59 when they should be convicted.
To not criminalise good parents who occasionally smack their children, because it is not in the best interests of children for this happen.
The real debate is whether protection afforded to parents and children should be enshrined in legislation or left to government agencies to make social policy by way of guidelines.

It’s our job to make laws that are clear and concise and that work, not to abrogate the responsibility for lawmaking by handing it over to unelected officials.

My first amendment will make it the role of the judge to decide if section 59 can be applied in the circumstances of the case, and then the jury would decide if the force used was reasonable. This provides a filter so juries cannot misapply section 59 out of sympathy.

My second amendment restricts reasonable force to no more than “transitory and trifling discomfort”, which drastically lowers the bar on the level of force that can be justified by section 59 — currently the law allows injury to be justified.

The public are screaming out for a common-sense and moderate approach to be introduced to this debate. I believe this is fairly represented in the proposed amendments,” says Mr Borrows.”

She adds, “For background paper contact Kim Juergens 021 402025; Inquiries: Chester Borrows 021 722636.”

Several other National MPs wrote brief but supportive replies, indicating their opposition to the repeal of s59.

Sample 10

Dear Prime Minister and Members of Parliament,

I am writing respectfully to urge you not to repeal section 59 of the Crimes Act.

If you repeal it, you will leave me and many parents without any legal defence against the charge of assault, when we force our children to do things which they do not want to do eg. go to bed at a decent time of night, or when we discipline them for lying or deliberately disobeying a reasonable house rule.

In fact, you will most definitely turn us all into criminals when we use reasonable force by way of correction or training on our children. MP Sue Bradford and organisations like Barnados
and Unicef may wish you to believe that this Bill will not criminalise all parents who believe in and practise disciplining their children, because not all will be prosecuted. However, criminalisation does not equal prosecution. A man who breaks the law is by that fact a criminal, whether or not the police find him out and prosecute him.

Thus, by simply going about their parenting duties, using and backing up their authority with reasonable force for the purpose of training and correction of their children, normal law-abiding parents will be made criminals and liable to prosecution, if and when you would vote into law the Crimes Amendment Bill. I strive to be a law-abiding citizen and a good, loving parent, but you will, by one amendment to the Crimes Act, turn me into an outlaw.

Is that really going to address the violent child abuse you are hoping to reduce? There are already laws in place against child abuse. Section 59 has never been shown to be protecting
those who are truly abusing their children.

Therefore, please do not change a law that is already working well. Vote to retain section 59 as is.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Ed Rademaker

Sample 11

Dear Prime Minister and Members of Parliament,

My wife and I have three daughters. They have all married over the past
three years, the last just two weeks ago.

They are all productive, highly motivated, and caring, and are exemplary

They all had ‘reasonable force by way of correction’ applied to them as
children, from a warning of consequences if a course of action was
continued, to being smacked on a few occasions when they exhibited serious
rebellious behaviour, to being forcefully restrained, or removed from a
situation when they threw a tantrum.

They all are very grateful that we loved them so much we disciplined them as
we did.

They do not have children yet but are all talking about starting a family.
They all intend to use reasonable force by way of correction to train their

They have never committed any criminal actions, as Sue Bradford has.

They have never assaulted anyone, as Sue Bradford has.

In her own words she said she has been through the courts ‘on many occasions’
and also that she has ‘been charged with assault’.

And yet this Sue Bradford who has ‘been charged with assault’, aims to bring
my three daughters, who have never assaulted anyone and who are exemplary
citizens, down to her level by turning them into criminals by definition.

Further, every time she equates smacking with beating/child abuse she
accuses me and my wife of being child abusers – something we find highly
offensive – and yet we have successfully raised our children to be exemplary
citizens, as those who know them will testify!

Such arrogance and offensiveness is almost unbelievable, her being willing
to smash into my family with the weight of law and the abusive power of the
state, intending to criminalise my daughters and their husbands for raising
their own children such that they will turn out as exemplary citizens also.

Please vote against Bradford’s bill to repeal Section 59 of the Crimes Act.


Sample 12

Hello all MPs,
There were some rather vigorous oral submissions against
the proposed repeal of S59. .

According to the dogma of proponents for repeal, that vigor would
indicate a propensity to “abuse” children by smacking. So – any
anonymous complaint to CYFs under CURRENT legislation could see those
children removed, because only “reasonable grounds to suspect” that they
‘might’ be “at risk” is enough for CYFS to act under the Care of
Children Act and the CYF Act. And who defines “risk”? CYFS do.

CYFs need to be made accountable – their actions must be subject to due
process of law – upheld or overturned in open court. This basic
provision of natural justice must be reclaimed.

Without S59 that will be impossible – repeal will strip the courts of
discretion as to what is “reasonable in the circumstances” for training
children (correction).

CYFS currently exercise power to withhold children from parents declared
innocent by the courts.
Repeal will render every child in the country ‘fair game’ to CYFS
because the last shred of accountability will be removed and there will
be NO legal recourse.

Taking children from parents who discipline because they care is worse
than abuse, akin to bereavment or kidnap because there can be no
closure, no peace – no hope of restitution.
Will you condone sentence without trial?

And did you know CYFS may LEGALLY use UNLIMITED degrees of force to
remove unwilling children? Parents can’t but ‘Big Brother’ can! Check
the statutes!

Section 59 is the last bastion against the nationalisation of children
and child welfare, because responsibility for children is at stake. No
hyperbole here. Without S59 we move from democratic freedom to statism.
From justice to oppression. Do you think the Kiwi is SO apathetic that
he will NOT fight for his children??
Would you be surprised if force was met with force? Would YOU sit still
and see your loved ones taken away for a mere smack on the bottom????
Sample 13

To: Members of Parliament
House of Representatives

19 February 2007

Dear Sir/Madam

I have read the report from the Justice and Electoral Committee on the Crimes (Abolition of Force as a Justification for Child Discipline) Amendment Bill (“the Bill”) which I understand was released on 20 November 2006.

I am grieved by the suggestions of the majority of the Justice and Electoral Committee (“the Committee”). Their suggestions to me seem based on political expediency rather than based on what is best for children, what is best for parents, what is best for families and even what is based on common sense. Their suggestions have no authoritative basis, unlike section 59 which is based on the authority of the Bible (which has no higher authority).

Let me explain:

The Committee describes the purpose of the Bill in paragraph 3 which is to, “make better provision for children to live in a safe and secure environment free from violence by abolishing the use of parental force for the purpose of correction.” Section 59 of the Crimes Act 1961 never allowed for the use of violence, only for the use of reasonable force for the purpose of correction. So there is no need to repeal section 59 in order to protect children from violence. Children are already protected from violence under other sections and other Statutes.

The Committee in its new proposed section 59, subsection 2 desires to remove from parents the ability to correct their children. Section 59(2) states: “Nothing in subsection (1) or in any rule of common law justifies the use of force for the purpose of correction.” The Committee will allow the use of reasonable force for the purposes of minimizing harm, preventing criminal activity, preventing offensive or disruptive behaviour or performing normal parental tasks. But the Committee specifically prohibits the use of reasonable force for the purpose of correction. Why would they do that? What is so onerous about correction? A simple dictionary definition reveals that correction is absolutely necessary in order to train children in right, good and correct behaviour. Correction is in effect teaching a child: “This is what is right and this is what is wrong. You need to do what is right. To help you do the right, I will chastise or reprove or correct you when you do the wrong and lead you forward to do the right.” Children need pro-active training and correction in order to bring them to mature, responsible adulthood. They need to be corrected when they engage in wrong or bad behaviour and need to be taught what is good and right behaviour. Not to do this, and to legislate against this amounts to negligence. It is a parent’s God-given duty to train children in the way they should go. Parents are not just there to prevent harm, criminal activity or offensive behaviour. Parents are to parent, that is to rear and nurture their children, to train and educate them. This is proactive and it requires that parents be able to correct their children which the dictionary would define as “to scold, rebuke, or punish in order to improve.” If parents are disallowed to correct their children, it is the police who will eventually be the ones who will find it necessary to correct them. Society will suffer as a result. We are seeing this exact thing happening in Sweden, the country who has been the vanguard down this track. Throughout the Continent it would appear that Swedish youth are establishing a reputation as undisciplined hooligans. The newspaper Dagens Nyheter reported on June 2, 1995, that drug use and violence are escalating out of control. A report by the Criminal Care Ministry (Kriminalvardsstyrelsen) from January 1995 says that serious crime has risen 25% in Sweden since 1990. A report from the Criminological Institute of Stockholm University in September 1995 states that adult crime in Sweden has risen 80% since 1975. John Bates reported that, “In April of this year police and public prosecutors were called to a crisis meeting to discuss the rapidly deteriorating situation. The desperate tone of the meeting was summed up by Christer Van Der Kwast of Stockholm county public prosecutors office who said in a statement to the press: ‘We are very disturbed by the situation, especially as it is not a question of small time crime, but crimes of violence. We are sitting on a time bomb.’” Per Bylund said about Swedish youth that, “a large part of the young population now consumes antidepressant medication, without which they are unable to function normally in social situations.” People who want to repeal section 59 often argue that such a move will reduce violence in New Zealand. This has not been the case in Sweden. The opposite has been true. This is simply because children need their parents to correct them away from violent behaviour. Where parents are disallowed from doing this, the inevitable result is that the police and society are caught in the fallout: they have to deal with the violence. Parents must not be allowed or forced to be so negligent.

The suggested repeal and substitution of section 59 to remove from parents the ability to use reasonable force for the purpose of correction is not good for children. Children need and desire correction and guidance. They want to be taught right from wrong and good from bad. I am only just on the other side of childhood. I remember how it was. I wanted my parents to teach and correct me. I wanted them to smack me when I had done something wrong. It was hard to do what was right sometimes, but it was a whole lot easier to do what was right after a smack or with the threat of a smack. I was very grateful that my parents smacked me. Most of my brothers and sisters are still children. They articulate this same thing. They want Dad and Mum to correct them and they are grateful for smacks and other uses of reasonable force which correct them from bad behaviour. Even my six-year-old sister understands this and articulates this. Parents need to be able to use reasonable force to correct their children. Families need parental authority and child discipline for them to function as a cohesive, loving unit.

One thing I have noticed from the Committee and the Bill is the implicit, philosophical idea that children really don’t belong to the parents, they belong to the State. Contained in this idea is the presumption that the State knows better than parents how to parent and that parents are simply babysitters for the State. I object to this idea. We all, including children belong to God. God gives children to parents. And God instructs parents how they are to raise their children. It has nothing to do with the State. It is scary in the extreme the implications of a State believing that they own the children. This idea is reprehensible. It is totalitarianism.

Please, as Members of Parliament, as politicians, as representatives of children, parents and families, please recognize that children are the responsibility of parents, not the State. Parents need to be able to determine when and how to use reasonable force to correct their children without the fear of police, State or CYFS intervention.

It has been clearly shown by cases such as the Timaru woman who smacked her child with a riding crop that even when the judiciary declares a woman to be innocent of abuse CYFS feels like they are a law unto themselves. They have not returned the woman’s son and are also out to get the woman’s daughter. Parents, and young people like myself who hope one day to be parents, fear that regardless of the intention of this Bill, State agencies like CYFS will continue to do whatever they like and will interfere with families who smack their children. Once CYFS has interfered with your family, life as it was is never the same. Perhaps the Government should be more concerned by the abuse of children by its own State agents.

Please protect children, parents and families and show a little common sense: Please vote against this Bill.

Yours truly,
Genevieve Smith

Sample 14

Dear Prime Minister and Members of Paraliament

Please read this article below which appeared in the NZ Herald yesterday.

Please answer this question for this prosecuting lawyer and for me:

“Of course there will be the occasional case where section 59 has excused parents who overstepped the mark, but these are not cases where a child has been thrashed or beaten or injured. I challenge anyone to find a case where section 59 has excused a real bashing that left a child injured.”

4 Tawa Street, Palmerston North, New Zealand
Phone: (06) 357-4399 or (06) 354-7699
Fax: (06) 357-4389

if Section59 is repealed – or replaced…

27 March – NZ Herald – Michele Wilkinson-Smith: Bradford’s own people will lose most in smacking law

Michele Wilkinson-Smith: Bradford’s own people will lose most in smacking law

Tuesday March 27, 2007

One of the great ironies of the anti-smacking debate is Sue Bradford’s touching faith in the police and the justice system – and even more ironic given her former life as a protester and champion of the powerless, during which she certainly clashed with police on occasions.

I have two perspectives on the debate. As a mother of pre-schoolers I have my personal views, which have changed since I had children.

But whether I choose to smack or not to smack – or whether anyone does – isn’t the issue. I know that as a middle-class woman in a happy marriage my chances of being prosecuted for smacking are practically nil.

I have another perspective. As a criminal lawyer who has both prosecuted and defended people charged with assaulting a child I think the repeal of section 59 of the Crimes Act will have disastrous and unnecessary consequences for a small group of people.

The people who will eventually suffer from the repeal of section 59 are the most vulnerable and powerless members of our community – and their children.

I say the repeal of section 59 is unnecessary because in my experience it is just that – unnecessary. I never lost a case which I prosecuted on the basis of section 59.

I drafted an indictment against a man who was convicted of smacking his 4-year-old son about five times on the backside with an open hand, leaving marks.

I think the jury convicted because the man smacked his boy too hard and because the boy was smacked not for a deliberate misdemeanour but because he soiled himself.

I prosecuted a man, a loving father, for using a belt on his mildly intellectually handicapped and very challenging teenage daughter after she damaged her bedroom.The jury were hugely sympathetic to the father but when I asked them in closing if they would not have intervened to stop the man had they been in the room at the time I knew they would find him guilty.

I saw the realisation dawn in their eyes. Not one of them would have stood by and let that happen “as a father’s right”, so they could not say it was reasonable discipline.

I’ve had far fewer cases as a defence lawyer, but I’ve never fancied my chances of going to a jury and saying: “Look, bashing that child with a jug cord was perfectly reasonable.”

Of course there will be the occasional case where section 59 has excused parents who overstepped the mark, but these are not cases where a child has been thrashed or beaten or injured. I challenge anyone to find a case where section 59 has excused a real bashing that left a child injured.

In my experience of those sorts of cases, the section 59 defence simply isn’t used. The accused denies the assault. New Zealand juries are not stupid.

Sue Bradford doesn’t trust the New Zealand public so I find it amazing that she has so much faith in both the police and the justice system.

She is proposing to give a huge amount of discretion to individual police officers.

She expects them to wisely ignore the letter of the law. They won’t. I know this and so does National MP Chester Borrows, with whom I worked and who was a superb, wise and compassionate detective sergeant.

The police may not, and I’m sure will not, prosecute every case of smacking, but they will be obliged to at least investigate – and therein is the harm. Picture this: a child at the centre of a custody battle comes back from an access visit. Mum questions the child: Did Daddy smack you? Has Daddy ever smacked you? The child says yes.

Mum takes the child to the police station. She is vocal and upset. “Investigate” sounds benign. It is not.

That child will be put through the evidential interview process. It’s not a process you want your child involved in. Dad will be asked to go to the police station to make a statement.

All this will probably be good for lawyers. Probably no charges will be laid, but the child and the family will have been through a traumatic and damaging experience.

This scenario will happen without a doubt. It will happen over and over again and the children at the centre of Sue Bradford’s concern will suffer it. The poor and powerless will be far more vulnerable.

Most police are honest and upstanding and we are lucky to have them.

Some are not. Some get caught up in a “means to an end” approach to criminal law. Some will use this legislation – and the discretion it gives them – for the wrong purpose.

It won’t be me or people like me who suffer this. It will be the very people Sue Bradford has fought for in so many other ways.

The Government should forget party politics on this one. We are lucky to have an experienced former police officer, who also has a law degree, sitting in the House. He is saying, for many different reasons, don’t give the police this much discretion. He’s right, and we should listen to him.

* Michele Wilkinson-Smith is a lawyer

Sample 15

—–Original Message—–
From: Barbara Smith
Sent: Wednesday, 28 March 2007 7:37 a.m.
To: ‘’
Subject: Please do not repeal or amend Section 59. Please keep it as it is.

Dear Prime Minister and Members of Parliament

Please do not repeal or amend Section 59. Please keep it as it is.

4 Tawa Street, Palmerston North, New Zealand
Phone: (06) 357-4399 or (06) 354-7699
Fax: (06) 357-4389

if Section59 is repealed – or replaced…

Sample 16

—–Original Message—–
Sent: Wednesday, 28 March 2007 9:20 a.m.
Subject: Organisations OPPOSING ‘Anti-Smacking’ Bill

Please forward to your local MP

Just some of the
Organisations OPPOSING ‘Anti-Smacking’ Bill

1. Family First NZ
2. Sensible Sentencing Trust
3. For the Sake of our Children Trust
4. Grey Power
5. Te Whanau O Waipareira Trust
6. Lifespring Pasefika Trust
7. NZ Centre for Political Debate
8. Society for the Promotion of Community Standards (SPCS)
9. Family Life International
10. Kip McGrath Education Centres NZ
11. Focus on the Family NZ
12. Crosspower Ministries Otara
13. Samoa Community Council of Waitakere City
14. FamilyLife NZ
15. Vision Network
16. Affirming Works (AW) South Auckland
17. Parents Against Negative Intervention by CYFS (PANIC)
18. Families Apart Require Equality (FARE)
19. Pacific Resource Centre Dunedin
20. Drug Proofing Your Kids (DYPK)
21. West Health Fono Trust
22. Family Education Network
23. HandsonEqualParent Trust
24. Voice for Life
26. Home Education Foundation
27. Affinity Child & Family Services
28. Children and Family Work
29. MOPS NZ [ Mothers of Preschoolers]
30. Drug-ARM Tauranga
31. Right to Life New Zealand Inc
32. Youthline Manukau
33. Drug Arm (Blenheim) Inc
34. Sowers Trust
35. Parents Against Bullying Support Group
36. Family Integrity
37. VOICE Hibiscus Coast
38. Family TV
39. VOICE Helensville
40. Courageous Women
41. Trinity Broadcasting Network South Pacific Ltd
42. Marriage Works
43. Franklin Christian Lobby
44. GCC Public Affairs Group
45. Promise Keepers NZ Ministry With Men Coaching
46. VOICE Waikato
47. Family Federation for World Peace and Unification
48. Family Ministries New Zealand (YWAM)

And probably many more – who unfortunately are government funded, and are therefore concerned that their public opposition to this Bill will affect their funding. | About us | Media Centre | Contact Us | Support Us |


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