Archive for the ‘Normal Families-Police/CYFs since Section 59 amended’ Category

$60k award after baby wrongly seized

Monday, March 10th, 2014



A judge has awarded $60,000 to the parents of a baby girl wrongly seized by welfare authorities.

The young couple, from Dunedin, have told the Sunday Star-Times of their harrowing two-year battle to regain custody of the girl, who was taken by Child, Youth and Family at just 14 weeks because the agency wrongly suspected she’d been abused.

In fact, the baby’s multiple fractures were the result of rickets, caused by a lack of Vitamin D.

The pair were forced to go to court to prove they hadn’t abused the baby.

The couple, who cannot be named because of Family Court suppressions, took their daughter to a doctor in 2011 after she began “vomiting and twitching”.

The doctor suspected a bowel obstruction and arranged for the baby to be admitted to hospital. An MRI in hospital revealed the baby had a fractured skull, ribs and limbs.

The parents were interviewed by police and two days later, without notification, Child, Youth and Family applied for interim custody, which was granted.

Three days later tests showed the baby had severe vitamin D deficiency and rickets – a Victorian era condition, which can lead to fractures and deformity of bones. The couple thought at that point their daughter would be returned to them.

But when the case went to the Family Court, doctors were at odds over whether the infant’s injuries were caused by trauma or rickets. A Family Court judge ruled in favour of the CYF decision to remove the baby.

Judge John Coyle said there was no evidence the “doting parents” were mistreating their daughter, but rejected rickets as a cause and said he could only conclude one of the parents caused her broken bones.

The baby was sent to live with her paternal aunt. Her parents had to sell their house in Dunedin and move to the North Island so they could continue to see her on supervised visits. The couple was able to force an appeal of the original decision with new evidence from a case in Britain.

Read the rest of the article here…

Michael Laws accused in child-smacking case

Sunday, January 19th, 2014

By Kathryn Powley

Laws is a proponent of smacking and its effectiveness. Photo / APN
Laws is a proponent of smacking and its effectiveness. Photo / APN

Police are investigating former Whanganui mayor Michael Laws after an allegation of child assault was made against him.

Laws, a former RadioLive talkback host and current Whanganui District Health Board member, was reported to police after allegedly smacking one of his children.

The incident allegedly happened at Whanganui Hospital last year. Laws, 56, was there with his three youngest children – Lucy, 9, Zoe, 7, and Theo, 5 – to visit their mother, Laws’ former partner Leonie Brookhammer, who suffered a stroke in August.

The Herald on Sunday understands the alleged smack was witnessed by a nurse in the assessment, treatment and rehabilitation ward. She reported it to the DHB and complained to police.

The Herald on Sunday asked police whether Laws was under investigation for allegedly hitting a child.

A spokesman replied by email saying: “Police can confirm they are investigating a child assault complaint made against a 56-year-old Whanganui man.

“As this matter is under investigation we are not prepared to discuss any further details.”

Laws yesterday said: “I have no idea what you are talking about, and my private life is none of your business.”

A source said there was no doubt Laws cared for and loved his children, but his views on smacking are well known.

In a newspaper column last January he wrote: “Yes, I smack. The singular swift slap on the bottom is applied by myself – in public – if my kids cross the line.

“I can report both its effectiveness and the fact that neither the police nor CYF have visited. They won’t either, because the law may be an ass, but its application is not.” New Zealand’s controversial anti-smacking law, championed by former Green MP Sue Bradford, came into effect in 2007, and removed the defence of reasonable force for parents prosecuted for assault on their children.

A 2009 referendum found an overwhelming number of people did not believe a smack as part of good parental correction should be a criminal offence. Debate over the issue was reignited this week when aspiring politician Colin Craig, who has admitted smacking his 8-year-old daughter, said repealing the anti-smacking law was a condition of his support for a National-led government if his Conservative Party makes it into Parliament in this year’s election.

Meanwhile, Brookhammer, 44, is recovering from the stroke at home in Whanganui. She can speak and is able to walk with the aid of a crutch.

Laws and Brookhammer separated in 2009.

Laws has had a high-profile and often controversial career in politics and broadcasting.

As mayor, he banned gang patches on the street and rallied against the Geographic Board’s decision that his town should be spelled Whanganui.

Read article here……

Eleventh review of Crimes (Substituted Section 59) Amendment Act 2007

Friday, April 19th, 2013

If Craig was alive he would have much to say about this Media Release. It is very concerning that Mr Burgess says “Due to the low prosecution rate, initial fears that ‘good parents’ would be criminalised continues to be proven wrong,”

Mr Burgess is wrong. This law has had a huge impact on families. All polls continue to show that over 80% of those voting in the polls want the law changed.

Ruby Harrold-Claesson warned us that the reporting would be like this.

Title: Eleventh review of Crimes (Substituted Section 59) Amendment Act 2007

Police has published its 11th review of activity following enactment of the Crimes (Substituted Section 59) Amendment Act 2007.
The latest review covers the six-month period from December 2011 to June 2012, and is the final such Police review.

Monitoring was initially for a two year period when the Amendment Act was passed in 2007.  The Prime Minister then invited Police to continue reporting on the impact of the law change for a further three years. This review completes that three year process.
Results for the 11th review are consistent with previous reviews. In total, 355 child assault events attended by police during this period were considered for the eleventh review. 12 of these events were identified as involving smacking and 31 involved ‘minor acts of physical discipline’.

Of the 12 smacking events, none resulted in prosecution, nine warnings were given and three required no further action being taken.  Of the 31 ‘minor acts of physical discipline’ events, nine resulted in prosecution (see full report for details of these).  Of the 252 incidents of child assault, 133 resulted in prosecution.  A total of 60 incidents were classified as “no further action” required.

Of the ‘smacking’ and ‘minor acts of physical discipline’ events, files indicate that 32 incidents were referred to Child, Youth and Family, 20 were referred to an inter-agency case management meeting, and six were referred to other support agencies.

There are a total of eight prosecutions for a ‘smacking’ event since the June 2007 law change.

Assistant Commissioner Malcolm Burgess says police responses have been consistent over time.

During the 11th review period, there was a decrease in all types of incidents, but the overall trend from the first review to the 11th indicates a growth in the number of reports of child assault, and a slight increase in smacking and ‘minor acts of physical discipline’ incidents.

“This suggests people have become increasingly comfortable reporting incidents,” Mr Burgess said.

Due to the low prosecution rate, initial fears that ‘good parents’ would be criminalised continues to be proven wrong,” Mr Burgess said.

“We encourage people to report any incidents where they witness or believe a child is the victim of abuse or unreasonable force.”
They can call police directly, or if they want to anonymously pass information on they can call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Editors note:
(1) Further details of the 11th review can be found on the NZ Police website

(2) The number of child assault events identified in each review period does not reflect the total number of child assault events attended by police during this time. The events are those most likely to identify:
• Actual physical action used in the child assault; and
• The context and the surrounding circumstances, as outlined in the practice guidelines (Commissioners Circular).

(3) Following the December 2009 review Police agreed to continue monitoring the impact of the Amendment on a six monthly basis until June 2012. Further details of the review can be found at:

(4) The practice guide (Commissioner’s Circular) on this issue released in June 2007 can be found on the police website:

For further information
Police Media
027 484 8158

Please view the full news release online at:

New Zealand Police

Disturbing Trends in Latest Smacking Report

Monday, August 27th, 2012

Disturbing Trends in Latest Smacking Report

23 August 2012

Media Release 24 August 2012
Family First NZ says that the latest review of police activity related to the anti-smacking law shows disturbing trends.

“The latest sales pitch on the smacking law by police will be cold comfort to parents. Almost 550 kiwi families have had a police investigation for allegations of smacking or minor acts of physical discipline since the anti-smacking law was passed yet only 8% of them have been serious enough to warrant charges being laid,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. “A law is obviously a ‘dog’s breakfast’ when there is such a high rate (92%) of cases warranting no further action by the police.”

“Ironically, the police have finally figured out what they mean by ‘smacking’ and ‘minor acts of physical discipline’ – something the politicians and CYF have been unable to do. And parents will be surprised by the types of actions which the police are taking to court – despite the guarantees of the Prime Minister.”

“Of most concern is that the report refers to an upward trend in smacking cases, and ‘more widespread use of the legislation’ by the police. Does this mean that the honeymoon period is over for parents, and that the real effects of the law are taking effect – despite the promises?” asks Mr McCoskrie. “We know that this is already the case with CYF with a zero tolerance policy for smacking.”

“The other huge concern is the big increase in false allegations of assault. This may come from neighbours or even the children themselves. Unfortunately, this confusing law has been used as a weapon against good parents – rather than targeting rotten parents who are abusing their kids.”

“It seems incredible that we are wasting time investigating hundreds of families who obviously don’t warrant that investigation, are putting those families through the stress of a potentially prolonged investigation, and are diverting valuable police resources from serious crime and rotten parents where actual abuse is happening,”

“Parents have been stripped of a parenting technique which, when used appropriately, has been proven to be effective and appropriate. And tragically, our child abuse death rate continues unabated,” says Mr McCoskrie.

“The report also fails to quantify the high level of intervention into good families from CYF which even CYF is unable to verify.”

Family First continues to call for an amendment to the anti-smacking law to clearly define what is reasonable physical correction, to decriminalise non-abusive smacking, and to then target our vital police resources at rotten parents who are abusing their kids.


Please also read the following:

The Experience of Parents

Family First has run the following adverts in major papers throughout New Zealand. They contain story after story of the experience of families whom the anti-smacking law has affected.


Cases Reveal CYF Ignoring Intent of Anti-Smacking Law

Monday, June 18th, 2012


19 June 2012

Cases Reveal CYF Ignoring Intent of Anti-Smacking Law

Family First NZ has released further cases highlighting how the anti-smacking law is being used to criminalise and persecute good parents.

“These cases add to the extensive list of cases already listed on the website and our documentary “My Mummy’s A Criminal” highlighting five families and the inaccuracies of the Prime Ministerial review led by Psychologist Nigel Latta,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“These latest cases show a disturbing trend. Not only are police resources being wasted on investigating ‘smacking’ allegations, but Child Youth and Family (CYF) are ignoring the intent of the law and are removing children from good homes where the parents may use a smack, are failing to adequately investigate the background of families before uplifting children and traumatising families, and are refusing to place children with extended family who may use a smack even when CYF acknowledge the expertise and safety of the parents. They are also ignoring the fact that in many cases, the police are seeing no reason to prosecute.”

At the time of the law being passed, Prime Minister John Key said “Good parents want to have confidence that they will not be criminalised by this legislation if they give their children a light smack. It sends a strong signal that the level of violence against children in our society is unacceptable, but at the same time gives parents confidence that they will not be criminalised for carrying out their normal parenting duties.”

“The law was always sold to the public by pretending that non-abusive smacking would not result in a visit by the police or a social worker to remove the children. But the cases released today – and previously – show the exact opposite is happening,” says Mr McCoskrie. “Parenting has been put on trial in New Zealand, and they have every right to be concerned about a flawed, confusing, and badly applied law.”

“It is significant that the ‘discretion’ clause only applied to police and not CYF. At least with the police, parents get to have their day in court to defend themselves – even if it means going all the way to the Court of Appeal as one of our cases highlights. But with CYF, they are unaccountable to the families.”

Family First continues to call on politicians to adopt the ‘Borrows’ amendment which did not ban smacking but which clearly stated what was abusive and what was not. This has been successfully used in other jurisdictions such as the UK and Australia.


For More Information and Media Interviews, contact Family First:

Bob McCoskrie – National Director

Mob. 027 55 555 42

You thought it was all over? Think again.


Mum and dad – who are now grandparents – currently have custody of their daughter’s 8 year old son. They have had him since he was 3 months old. CYF also gave them custody of their niece (13). Their daughter had another child (girl) who was taken by CYF from the daughter at 9 months old. Mum and dad applied for custody of this 17 month old granddaughter. Mum has been an approved caregiver for 13 years supporting various whanau. CYF actually asked mum to have the granddaughter, and when they applied, the social worker indicated that they would be approved. They also went to the 8 year old’s school and interviewed him. Two social workers who interviewed mum and dad before the formal approval were very affirming and said that “this is the perfect home” for the 2 year old, and that the 8 year old is “a happy healthy boy – no problem with him.” However, during the interview, mum and dad admitted that if methods of correction such as time-out, withdrawal of privileges, and other consequences for defiant and unacceptable behaviour didn’t work, she might use a smack on the hand with a half-size wooden spoon. The two social workers – both who had just recently graduated – then said that the grandparents would not be able to have the granddaughter. A letter confirming this decision was sent, saying that the reason for not letting the granddaughter stay with her grandparents was because of “the disciplining methods and unwillingness to change these”.


Nana applied to have custody of her two grandnephews A(5) and B(3). She had been a caregiver with CYF previously, caring for nine children over a number of years. Her two great-nephews had been in foster care all their life and had been moved throughout various whanau unsuccessfully. CYF acknowledged that they had both medical and behavioural difficulties but offered support to Nana. They closely monitored Nana’s caregiving for a number of weeks before they formally assigned custody to Nana. Their behaviour was a challenge for Nana including incidences of climbing on the roof of the house, sticking fingers in to wall sockets, inappropriate toilet behaviour, and generally not obeying specific instructions. Nana regularly rang CYF for assistance but was either unable to contact the social worker assigned to her case, or was fobbed off – once being told to just ‘keep a log’ of the misbehaviour. CYF even suggested that the behaviour only started at Nana’s – but official records show that there were already concerns before placement, and an assessment by CYF of Nana after the incident detailed below says “home environment appears very child friendly and cosy… the boys seemed very settled, happy and bright.” CYF documents also show that they admit that their services and lack of co-ordination between offices was ‘not always consistent’. All of this resulted in stress and health concerns for Nana. On one occasion, A grabbed a butcher knife and hit B on the head, drawing blood. Nana growled A and gave him a smack on the hand with a wooden spoon. A trainee psychologist who was working with A contacted CYF regarding the incident. The boys were removed without any written notification or specific reason being given to Nana. Nana and the boys have not seen each other since – and Nana has still not been given a reason as to their removal.

(This information has been corroborated with documents obtained under the Official Information Act.)


Mum was engaged to be re-married, and had custody of her 8 year old (G). She also has two adult children. G has been diagnosed with ADHD and could, at times, be extremely challenging and defiant. Mum has regularly sought the help of medical professionals.  Everyone that mum went to for help – including CYF – basically turned their backs on her.  On one occasion, neighbours called the police when G was sent outside because of her defiant behavior and started screaming when her step-dad told her to apologise to her mum.  On another occasion G told her step-mum that mum had smacked her on the bottom – which she had, when G was being defiant and swore at her. The step-mum complained to the police. In both cases, the police told G off for not listening to her mum. During a visit from the police G even started to get mouthy to the policeman who told her to behave herself. G’s stepmother had told G that “if your mother ever smacks you, you are to tell me”.  The step-mum and dad applied for custody, and because of the complaints about “alleged assaults”, the Family Court judge refused all access between mum and G (and her other siblings and grandparents) while CYF investigated. This absolutely destroyed G’s mother to the point where she couldn’t go to work for a couple of days due to being so distraught. The CYF investigation took three months to complete – despite the Family Court judge requesting an urgent assessment! This also meant that G had to be supervised while being a flower girl at her mother’s wedding! G was not allowed to have contact with any family members. Affidavits show that the step-mum and dad had no good reason or evidence that mum used any violence – and even admitted that G ‘does sometimes exaggerate things’. Because of G constantly threatening mum with reporting her to the police, G is now living with her dad and step-mum and visiting her mum every 2nd weekend. The step-mum has apologized for her actions, and has acknowledged the difficulties with controlling G’s behaviour.


Mum has two children aged 10 and 8. The oldest child (P) had been very difficult and mum sought help from her school, social workers, and mental health organisations who told mum that P was ‘displaying’ ADHD but was ‘just naughty’. Mum and her partner did a parenting programme, and even have the certificate! They had been having trouble with P lighting fires which was particularly dangerous given that they live rurally right by a forest area. Mum had even got the local fireman to explain to P the problem with fires. On this particular occasion, P lit a fire right by the garage shed which has flammable materials (and during a particularly dry period of summer). When Mum confronted him with the seriousness of what he had done and what could have happened, he told her “F** you”. Mum gave him two smacks on his clothed bottom with a women’s cloth belt. Every other deterrent she had tried to stop him lighting stuff didn’t seem to work. Four days later, she admitted to a social worker what she had done and said “I need help. Your advice isn’t working”. The social worker said that she would be reporting mum. Next day, CYF removed both boys to the birth father. The police investigated and after two weeks, informed mum that no charges would be laid, that the law was dumb, and that she was officially warned (although she received no written documentation relating to this). After seven weeks of supervised access to the children (and despite the police investigation being concluded five weeks earlier), mum tried to contact the social worker at CYF a number of times to enquire when she would be able to have the kids back. She managed to get hold of another social worker who checked the file and ‘thought’ it might be ok. The boys returned home. 18 months later, they have still heard nothing from CYF. They even submitted an Official Information Act request but got no response. Mum says that there is simply no support for parents who struggle with difficult children, but authorities are quick to take action when a parent puts a foot wrong.


Timaru Herald July 2011

A judge dismissed a charge against a Timaru father accused of hitting his seven-year-old with a belt. The charge arose after the boy told staff at his school that two bruises on his legs were caused by his father hitting him. The boy told police the same thing in a recorded interview in October last year, but told the Timaru District Court at a defended hearing on Wednesday he had lied because his teacher told him to say his father had hit him. When questioned by the police prosecutor, the boy said part of what he said was not true. He said the bruises were caused by his brother, who had thrown a clay cat and a toy dinosaur at him, when he had jumped onto his brother’s bed. He said he told a teacher aide because she asked him for news from home, and said he told her the bruises were caused by his brother. Yesterday, when asked if the boy had said his brother caused the bruises, the teacher aide said no. Following his conversation with the teacher aide, his teacher spoke to him and he said he told her his brother had caused the bruises. The teacher said his brother could not have done it, and it must have been his father, he said. “I had to say daddy hit me or she would just put my name on the board or she would bench me.” The boy also said he was scared his brother would go to jail.


Mum and dad ‘s 11 year old daughter was getting bullied at school. Her parents weren’t aware of the extent of the bullying or impact it was having on her.  As a result of the bullying, she was being difficult at home, and mum and dad were having to be very strict and put clear boundaries on her, which she didn’t like. She got involved with a group of girls at school who were experimenting with ‘cutting’. One day she took a kitchen knife to school to use with her friends, and a teacher found it in her bag. She panicked, thinking that she would be in a lot of trouble at school for having the knife with her, so she told her school counsellor that dad had been smacking, punching and strangling her. (She had previously told her parents that they weren’t allowed to smack her or her siblings anymore as it was against the law). The school immediately referred this to the Police who in turn referred it to CYF. The same day, mum and dad’s four children were removed from the family home – without a court order.

The family insisted CYF interview their other children, family members, friends, previous teachers, and their family doctor to get an idea of what their family was like. CYF were not interested in doing this but agreed to interview the older siblings after constant pressure from the family. No disclosure of abuse of any kind was made by either sibling. The mother was interviewed and also stated that husband had never abused their children at any time. A CYF worker then tried to tell the mother that she was a victim of domestic abuse from her husband and that she wasn’t safe to go home to him. They also told the mother and father that if they hadn’t taken their daughter out of the family home immediately she would have ended up on the front page of the NZ Herald within a week as a story of ‘another’ child who had been beaten to death by their father. Throughout this entire time the father had to leave the family home and was not allowed any contact with any of his children.

Despite no corroboration or evidence of what the daughter was saying, CYF chose to rely only on the testimony of the 11 year old despite the fact that the parents have had no previous involvement with CYF or the police of any kind, and have had no issues from any school or any other social service agency. In fact, the father has a highly responsible community based job.

While staying at her aunty’s, the 11 year admitted she had made up the stories because of the bullying. CYF were advised of this but stated that the family had forced her to recant and compared the family to the Kahui family. Mum and Dad’s lawyer pushed to get the 11 yr old referred to the child mental health unit at Starship Hospital to be assessed by an independent child psychologist. After one session of interviewing and observing, the child told the psychologist that she had lied. The psychologist became visibly upset in front of the parents and said that they had been treated appallingly. On two occasions the psychologist spoke with CYF and told them that he didn’t believe CYF had any reason to be involved with the family as the 11 yr old had made up the abuse allegations. After nine weeks the police finally completed their investigation and said that no charges would be laid and that there would be no further action from them.

14 weeks after the hell started, the family were reunited. Despite no evidence of abuse, the family – including all the children – are now flagged officially with the police and CYF as “family violence”. The father has a flag against his name “Assaults Child”. This will affect the future career prospects of dad within his current employment and mum who is currently studying for a degree.


Sunday Star Times 3 June 2012

Mum has been trying to get help from CYF, CAMHS, and a psychologist, but they all said that not much could be done about her eight year old son’s oppositional behaviour and conduct problems. After a particularly extreme situation (not the first time), Mum asked her partner to discipline him in order to bring home the unacceptability of his actions. Mum’s partner smacked the boy with a folded belt on his clothed backside twice.

The boy’s grandmother (who CYF no longer want the boy to live with) reported it to the police and both mum and her partner were charged with assault. When spoken to by police, mum unfortunately admitted that over the past two to three years, she had smacked her son on a couple of occasions when she believed he needed it due to his behavior and when other punishments didn’t work – but the last time she could recall doing was at least six months ago. The district court judge acknowledged that mum had sought help and assistance many times – but that she had ‘stepped outside the bounds of what is considered to be appropriate parental discipline..’ Because mum was an early childhood teacher – a ‘very good one’ as acknowledged in court documents – the judge said she was ‘supposed to know better’. Both she and her partner were convicted of assault. The district court judge said that the fact that the mother was not angry but that the smack was a ‘considered decision’ was an aggravating factor.

On appeal to the High Court, mum’s partner was discharged without conviction on the basis of it being a ‘one-off incident in response to an extreme, highly unusual situation’ and that ‘a poor choice was made in response to a situation none of us would like to confront. It arose against a background where persistent efforts had been made to cope with the challenges presented.’ The judge also commented that there had been ‘sustained efforts over several years to cope with, and adjust, the boy’s behaviour.”

However, because of mum’s admission that she had occasionally used smacking in the past, her conviction was upheld in the High Court, because ‘it cannot be said it was a one-off incident – despite her son presenting ‘unusual and difficult challenges’.

She appealed to the Court of Appeal – and won. They acknowledged that mum had ‘sought appropriate expert assistance … and had utilized a range of non-physical measures to address the child’s behaviour and that the actions were at ‘the lower end of the scale’. They also held that the prior incidents were overstated by the District Court judge.

Moral of the story? Be careful what you admit, even if John Key says a light smack is ok – and you think it is also.

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Please also read this. Craig put it together a few years ago:

Appeal Court Rescues ‘Honest’ Mum From Smacking Law

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012


Appeal Court Rescues ‘Honest’ Mum From Smacking Law

The National government said they would change the law if they saw good parents being criminalized

Family First NZ says that a mother had to appeal all the way to the Court of Appeal after voluntarily admitting using a few light smacks over the past couple of years, and that it sends a warning to all parents about what they admit to authorities regarding smacking. The mother was acquitted in the Court of Appeal.

“Despite the sales pitch from police and CYF, and Prime Minister John Key declaring that a smack is ok and wouldn’t result in prosecution, this mother’s experience proves that this is not the case and may actually result in assault convictions, loss of reputation, ruined career, financial hardship, and having to appeal all the way to the Court of Appeal in order to gain some common sense,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“When a relative reported the mother for asking her partner to smack their 8 year old on the bottom, mum unfortunately admitted that over the past 2-3 years, she had smacked her son on a couple of occasions. The court acknowledged that mum had sought help and assistance many times – but said that the fact that the mother was not angry but that the smack was a ‘considered decision’ was an aggravating factor!

When they appealed to the High Court, the partner was discharged without conviction. However, because of mum’s admission that she had used smacking in the past, her conviction was upheld in the High Court, because, according to the judgement, ‘it cannot be said it was a one-off incident in response to an extreme, highly unusual situation’ – despite her son presenting ‘unusual and difficult challenges’.

She then appealed to the Court of Appeal and won an acquittal. They acknowledged that mum had ‘sought appropriate expert assistance … and had utilised a range of non-physical measures to address the child’s behaviour’ and that the actions were at ‘the lower end of the scale’. They also held that the prior incidents were overstated by the District Court judge.

“John Key’s statement that light smacking is ok is essentially a load of crock. This mother has had her career damaged, a loss of income and lawyer’s fees, and caused irreparable damage to the family. She was honest, asked for help, went to the professionals, but they never came running to her with assistance – but were quick to prosecute.”

“The warning to all good parents from this case is that they need to be careful what they admit – even if their actions of a smack are deemed reasonable and appropriate in the circumstances. The outcome of the anti-smacking law is only just coming home to roost,” says Mr McCoskrie.

“The National government said they would change the law if they saw good parents being criminalised. This is just one more example to add to the growing evidence.”


For More Information and Media Interviews, contact Family First:

Bob McCoskrie – National Director  Mob. 027 55 555 42

More information here:

My Mummy’s A Criminal

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

WWW.PROTECTGOODPARENTS.ORG.NZ – In 2007 the NZ Parliament removed the right of Kiwi parents to use reasonable force to physically discipline their children for the purpose of correction. Despite assurances to the contrary, families have been torn apart, accused of lying and dragged through the courts with disturbing results. These are just a few of the many examples….

Website Launched to Protect Good Families From Smacking Law

Saturday, July 16th, 2011


17 July 2011

Website Launched to Protect Good Families From Smacking Law

Family First NZ has launched a website to give support to good families who are at risk of police and CYF intervention because of the anti-smacking law.

“The politicians entered every family home in 2007 with an attitude of ‘we know best’ and removed the right of good Kiwi parents to raise their children as they see fit in a reasonable and non-abusive way,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“Despite assurances to the contrary, families have been torn apart, accused of lying and dragged through the courts with disturbing results.”

The website features the just-released documentary “My Mummy’s A Criminal” which highlights five families who have been criminalised as a result of the anti-smacking law.

The new website also has additional resources for families including legal advice for parents from six lawyers, the experience of parents, why the Prime Minister’s ‘Latta’ review was flawed, the research on why smacking is not child abuse, and what the real causes are.

“Parenting in New Zealand has been put on trial. The politicians have dealt a heavy legislative blow to parents, and parents are feeling disempowered, disrespected, and demonised as child abusers.”

“We all desperately want to tackle our unacceptable rates of child abuse. But it’s time we targeted rotten and dysfunctional parents where children really are at risk, rather than good parents who are simply trying to raise great kids. We should be supporting good parents – not criminalising them,” says Mr McCoskrie.

“Ex-Prime Minister Helen Clark was quite right when she said that a ban on smacking would defy human nature. This website will protect good kiwi parents until the politicians see fit to amend a law which has been labelled by the current Prime Minister John Key as a ‘dog’s breakfast’.”


For More Information and Media Interviews, contact Family First:

Bob McCoskrie – National Director

Mob. 027 55 555 42

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Smacking Law Leads to Miscarriage of Justice

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010


19 October 2010

Smacking Law Leads to Miscarriage of Justice

Family First NZ is welcoming the acknowledgement by the Crown of a miscarriage of justice towards Christchurch parent James Mason who was prosecuted by police for pulling the ear of his 3 year old when trying to prevent him from injuring himself as his younger brother had just done.

“Family First always said that if the conviction was for an ear pull rather than the claimed punch in the face, it was inappropriate. The acknowledgement by the Crown Solicitor in the Supreme Court today shows that the application of discretion and the lumping together of substantially different actions was flawed,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“Parenting in New Zealand has been put on trial. The politicians have dealt a heavy legislative blow to parents, and parents are feeling disempowered, disrespected, and demonised as child abusers.”

“As well as that, the police are caught in the middle trying to balance the zero tolerance approach to family violence against the so-called discretion offered under the anti-smacking law.”

“It is not surprising that research by the Families Commission found that only a third of parents believe that the government sees their role as important.”

Family First NZ is challenging Prime Minister John Key to amend the law that he has labeled a dog’s breakfast, and introduce the amendment that he lobbied for before he became Prime Minister which decriminalizes light smacking for the purpose of correction.

“NZ’ers have no confidence in this law and are confused by it,” says Mr McCoskrie. “Good parents taking their kids for a bike ride and trying to keep them safe deserve the support of the state – not criminalisation.”


For More Information and Media Interviews, contact Family First:

Bob McCoskrie JP – National Director

Tel. 09 261 2426 | Mob. 027 55 555 42

CYFS probe traumatises family

Monday, July 27th, 2009

CYFS probe traumatises family

4:00AM Tuesday Jul 28, 2009
By Simon Collins

Erik was investigated by Child, Youth and Family Services after he smacked daughter Abigail.

Erik was investigated by Child, Youth and Family Services after he smacked daughter Abigail.

Your Views Have you changed your habits since the smacking law? Tell us your stories

The Herald is running a week-long series on the smacking debate. To tell us your stories, go to the Your Views discussion. Or you can follow the debate on our facebook page.

“After our poll on Saturday we’re covering Monday what parents think:
TUESDAY: Victims of the law
WEDNESDAY: Children have their say
THURSDAY: How teachers see it
FRIDAY: The official view – police and CYFS
SATURDAY: How will politicians respond

A father says his family were left traumatised and his elder daughter tearful after Child, Youth and Family Services investigated a smack.

Parents Erik and Lisa toured the world for years with the Christian theatre group Covenant Players, presenting plays to schools and church groups on themes such as self-esteem, peer pressure, resolving conflict, bullying and addiction.

“Before we had children, I read a number of books on strong-willed children by [Christian author Dr James] Dobson and others,” says Erik.

“In the back of my mind there was the suspicion that those children were not being raised right, that if they had loving parents who were consistent with their discipline, they would turn out to be good kids.

Erik said he and Lisa had never had any problems with their elder daughter, who will soon be 13. “And then we had Abigail.”

Abigail, now 10, “from day one has known exactly what she wanted and been very insistent on getting it”.

“She will no doubt make a fantastic leader one day,” her father said.

But right now she’s a challenge. “There are times when my wife and I are at our absolute wit’s end.”

Last November, they took her to a child mental health service to get help. Health workers noted a bruise on her back that had been caused by tripping over a vacuum cleaner.

Two days later, Abigail had what her father calls “a massive meltdown, banging her bunk against the wall and calling my wife evil”.

“I said, ‘Either your behaviour stops or you’re going to get a smack’,” he said. “She started kicking at me. I grabbed hold of her ankle and smacked her bottom.” Two of his fingers went above the line of her belt, leaving red marks on her back.

The smack worked. She stopped kicking and was soon apologetic.

But the mental health service was about to give her a full medical examination. Lisa told a nurse about the red marks and the smack.

A few days later, at 3pm on a Friday, CYFS staff rang. They had received a claim of abuse and they wanted the children out of the house while they investigated.

The parents protested, but were told they had no option. They found friends to take the two girls for the weekend.

On the Monday, CYFS spoke to the older daughter at school and left her in tears. Late that afternoon, social workers visited the family, realised there had been a mix-up between the red marks and the bruise from the vacuum cleaner, and closed the case.

Far from protecting the children, CYFS made things worse, Erik says.

“Abigail went round locking the doors one night because she was afraid someone was going to come and take us. Our eldest would wake up at all different hours and had trouble going to sleep.”

Erik himself had to take leave from work, complaining to CYFS: “I am angry, have difficulty completing simple tasks, have several times come close to bursting into tears and at least once have actually done so.”

* CYFS will respond on Friday.

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