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The “No Smacking Law” gets worse

Filed under: General — Julie @ 10:11 pm Wed 20th June 2007

Police today released a practice guide on the Crimes (Substituted Section 59) Amendment Act which comes into force this Friday. They have had a difficult time figuring out how they will enforce this law because “Non Consequential” is vague as well as other definition of words.

this is the law

New Section 59

“(1) Every parent of a child and every person in the place of a parent of the child is justified in using force if the force used is reasonable in the circumstances and is for the purpose of –
(a) preventing or minimising harm to the child or another person; or
(b) preventing the child from engaging or continuing to engage in conduct that amounts to a criminal offence; or
(c) preventing the child from engaging or continuing to engage in offensive or disruptive behaviour; or
(d) performing the normal daily tasks that are incidental to good care and parenting.

(2) Nothing in subsection (1) or in any rule of common law justifies the use of force for the purpose of correction.

(3) Subsection (2) prevails over subsection (1).

(4) To avoid doubt, it is affirmed that the Police have the discretion not to prosecute complaints against a parent of a child or person in the place of a parent of a child in relation to an offence involving the use of force against a child, where the offence is considered to be so inconsequential that there is no public interest in proceeding with a prosecution.”

But the police have to report every case even if they don’t prosecute.

Referrals and documentation
In cases where the force used is found to be minor, trivial or inconsequential, it will be appropriate to record the event on a POL400 and forward the file to the Family Violence Co-ordinator. The expected outcome for such events will be one using common sense and of offering guidance and support, dependent on the context following discussion by the Family Violence Co-ordinator.

In repeat events (where other interventions or warnings have been unsuccessful) involving the same family or more serious cases the matter should be recorded on a POL400 and consideration given as to whether prosecution may be appropriate. A Notification to Child Youth and Family must be made by faxing the POL400 to the Child Youth and Family Call Centre. The matter will also be forwarded in the usual way to the Family Violence Co-ordinator.

For clear events of abuse or neglect, the event will be recorded on a POL400 and dealt with in terms of the CAT/SAT Protocol as a Care and Protection issue. A Notification to Child Youth and Family must be made by faxing the POL400 to the CYF Call Centre. The matter will also be forwarded in the usual way to the Family Violence Co-ordinator.

This is going to be hell for parents and for the police. These experts only care about their jobs. They are not going to let anyone off unless it is extremely minor.

National Leader Jonh Keys says they will change the law after next election if they get in and parents are being prosecuted for healthy parenitng.

“The critical test of this legislation was always going to be the way it was administered. But I am confident the police will administer the law with the appropriate judgment and discretion required. If, for whatever reason, that proves not to be the case, we’ll change it”, says Keys.

The majority of New Zealanders are not so confident.

Family Fisrt who has been the biggest player to represent the people in this situation says, “Police Practice Guide for Smacking Law Confirms Worst Fears for Parents. The Police have confirmed that they will prosecute parents who lightly smack their children, even if the smacking is inconsequential. In the Police Practice Guide released by Deputy Commissioner Rob Pope today, it states that “while smacking may, in some circumstances, be considered inconsequential, a prosecution may be warranted if such actions are repetitive or frequent.”

The Police Practice guide also acknowledges the confusing nature of the new law in its introduction by stating that “until case law develops on the section, it is not known how it will be interpreted and applied by the Courts. It will take time to see the impact of the new law.”

This is a mess. Parents are going to be in fear and children are going to be taught their rights in school and play on it. People are going to start turning on each other and you can just imagine how parents who break up and end up in the FC are going to use this as a tool against each other. Can it get any worse.

Well, one father has already been arrested and went to court. The judge said his smack on his 9 year old was, ‘Inconsequential’ but I bet that doesn’t take away the stigma nor the stress nor the bill he has to pay his lawyer.

And there are other stories going around.

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