Thursday, February 22, 2007

Tough love

Children are already protected from violence and assault through the Crimes Act - Family First

Criminal acquittals under Section 59 of the Crimes Act – Media Reports
Man who chained stepdaughter goes free
Reported: New Zealand Herald 17/11/99

A jury in the High Court at Palmerston North acquitted a man accused of chaining his wayward 14-year-old stepdaughter to himself, from charges of kidnapping and cruelty to a child.

The report states that the defendant’s counsel successfully utilized a defence of "tough love” without having to call evidence.

Belting okay for wild boys says jury
Reported: New Zealand Herald 21/6/02

Man acquitted of spanking
A jury in the North Shore District Court cleared an Auckland man of assault after he took a belt to his hyperactive stepchild as punishment for continually running on to the road in front of cars.

Father acquitted in pipe beating
Reported: New Zealand Herald 3/11/01

Jury acquits thrasher dad
A jury in the Hamilton District Court decided a father who struck his 12-year old daughter with a hosepipe was within his rights to do so and acquitted him from assault charges.

Smacking father discharged
Reported: The Dominion 22/02/2001

A jury in Napier District Court acquitted a man who struck his son several times on the buttocks with a piece of wood. A pediatrician stated that the injuries the boy received must have been caused by "considerable force”.

Smacking laws stay unchanged for now
Reported: The Dominion 21/12/2001

This article refers to the above cases in Hamilton and Napier and also refers to a case heard in the Christchurch District Court, where the judge, Judge Graeme Noble, acquitted a man for hitting his daughter with a doubled over belt, finding that the man used reasonable force.
Information compiled by Barnardos


Anonymous said...

Yes.. the Chester Borrows amendment will get us ABSOLUTELY NOWHERE!!

Reasonable force means anything.

The expectation we should create is that it is wrong to bring up a child in a climate of fear.

Schools have stopped assaulting boys (mainly) with straps and canes. They have adapted. So can we,

Emphasis in education has been more and more to recognise GOOD behaviour .. you see in kindies through to secondary schools.

I know a majority may not be with Sue Bradford. All the more power to her LEADERSHP! Green Party, Maori Party and the thinking people in NZF are showing up National Party very badly!!


Delta Bannerman said...

To channel FF for a moment: "You can't trust BARNARDOS! They rely on the gummint for FUNDING!" etc.

Psycho Milt said...

You make an excellent point: juries fail to enforce the law as it stands now. I reach a different conclusion, though: given the unwillingness of juries to convict, tightening the law is likely merely to increase that unwillingness to convict.

20 years ago, long before I had any kids and without any need to consider the magnitude of what's involved in raising them, I would have thoroughly agreed with Jeremy above. Now that I'm actually responsible for some, I find I'd be extremely reluctant to convict another parent, except in pretty extreme circumstances. I suspect a lot of parents think like me, so Sue Bradford's plan to make us all hippies is basically DOA.

Heather said...

given the unwillingness of juries to convict, tightening the law is likely merely to increase that unwillingness to convict.
But for the cases that do end up in court, there's a big difference in the job of the jury - currently they have to decide whether an incident constituted "reasonable force" - a discretionary judgment - but under Bradford's plan, they simply have to decide whether or not the incident actually occurred.

I can understand the jury being unwilling to condemn a frustrated parent, but at the same time it worries me that a not-guilty verdict in these cases is saying - somewhat to the public, but more clearly to the defendant - that this kind of behaviour is acceptable. What kind of follow-up do these families get? When they're found not guilty, do they just head back home and continue life (and reasonable force) as before?

Anonymous said...

The issues are nicely summed up above.

Even with the change in law, the police will exercise discretion in their prosecutions as they do now for most other crime.

There will be times when parents will be given a warning. There will be times when justice will need to be done.

The important thing to me is that we send the signal that families SHOULD be able to bring good citizens into the community without the use of violence. Schools have been stopped from doing so (and mainly to boys)

We learn from earliest days of kids at kindergarten that encouragement of GOOD behaviour creates best climate of discipline. That is not how it worked when I was young. Teachers told only my parents about my good
progress. It is a whole culture of negativity that has been largely turned around in state education - there is no reason why this should not flow on to families.

It is good to see so many members of parliament, from assorted parties, still understand the concept of social policy and visionary leadership.

Psycho Milt said...

That's two mentions now of "leadership." Well, maybe, if you define "leadership" as "Right! You lot wouldn't share my morality voluntarily, so I'm making it compulsory!" I'd say it's the kind of leadership that gets neither respect nor obedience. File this one right alongside making party pills illegal.

Paul said...

The purpose of the proposed law change is to remove the defence of reasonable force in cases like those I listed, where it was used successfully.

Anonymous said...


Im sorry but the crossover between political leadership and perceived morality has been around hundreds of years.

Members of Parliament from Maori Party (all 4!), United Future, NZ First and Labour are ALL voting for Sue Bradford's bill.

They have had select committee reports, and all sorts of research before them to feel confident about this move.

I think it will happen. Children must be protected. As is usual in these cases, parents don't necessarily know the best way forward and they will benefit from this guidance.

Once passed, this progressive law will never be repealed. I mean who would sponsor a bill legitimising violence?


Anonymous said...

> The police will exercise discretion

Interesting that so many usually liberal people are so comfortable with this.

to make it a bit more clear imagine, lets say, a point in the future where almost everyone is in breach of one of a set of laws like this each wielding a jail sentence and in each case prosecution being accepted as being at the discretion of the police.

Brian S said...

As is usual in these cases, parents don't necessarily know the best way forward and they will benefit from this guidance.

As a parent, I resent that comment.

Matthew R. X. Dentith said...

As you might, Brian, but just because you (and I'm using 'you' in the general sense) are a parent doesn't mean you know what good parenting is.

Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling said...

Horansome you naive fool. This is the internet, feelings trump facts any day the week here.

Swimming said...

Paul, the media didn't get it right. Just one example

In the case where a child was alleged to have been disciplined with a block of wood, whether the injuries were caused by the discipline is important. That’s because the parent in this case did not appear to get off because of a section 59 defence. Critics of this case do not mention that the boy concerned suffered injuries when he fell over while roller blading the previous day to the discipline, nor do they mention that the boy's injuries were not solely cased by physical discipline, which is why his parent was acquitted. Nor do they mention that, although section 59 was raised, that fact appears not to be the deciding factor as to why the parent in this case was acquitted. This case is not a section 59 acquittal.

Anonymous said...

I think you purposely missed out the case where the son was beaten with a piece of wood for having smashed up the family home. Definitely qualifies as self defence.