EPOCH (End Physical Punishment of Children) New Zealand Trust winds up
23 November 2015
At a Special General Meeting held on 17 November 2015 the Trustees of EPOCH (End Physical Punishment of Children) New Zealand Trust confirmed an earlier resolution to wind up the Trust.
The former Trustees of EPOCH New Zealand wish to thank the many organisations and individuals in New Zealand who supported the Trust and worked alongside it to achieve the historic law change in 2007 making it illegal to use physical punishment with children in New Zealand. The law change was a very positive step towards improving the lives of children in New Zealand and respecting their human rights. Attitudes towards the use of physical punishment are changing and fewer parents now regard it as acceptable to hit their children.
This website will remain live for five years for reference purposes but will not be updated.
Ireland prohibits corporal punishment of children
12 November 2015
Good news from the Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children. A recent press release reads
“Ireland has joined the list of countries outlawing all corporal punishment of children in all settings, including the home. On 11 November 2015, the Irish Parliament adopted legislation explicitly repealing the common law defence of “reasonable chastisement” of children, making Ireland the 20th European Union state to achieve prohibition of corporal punishment, the 29th Council of Europe member state, and the 47th state worldwide. The achievement of law reform comes after more than a decade of mounting human rights pressure on Ireland to repeal the defence and give children equal protection from assault. Speaking during the report and final stages debate in the Seanad, Senator Jillian van Turnhout, who tabled the original amendment, stated:
"This ancient defence of reasonable chastisement is not an Irish invention. It came to us from English common law. Through its colonial past, England has been responsible for rooting this legal defence in over 70 countries and territories throughout the world. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the reasonable punishment defence still allows parents and some other carers to justify common assault on children. In Scotland, there is another variation, namely the defence of justifiable assault. In this action being taken today, the Government is putting children first and providing leadership, which will hopefully give confidence to the Government at Westminster, the devolved UK Administrations and other countries across the globe to discard these archaic and disreputable defences and give full respect to the dignity of children…. With this amendment we have a way to unite and agree that all citizens are equal. There must never be a defence for violence against children.”
Never an excuse for smacking a child
13 July 2015
A recent article by Duncan Garner in the Dompost nicely reflects the views and understanding of a father who does not believe hitting children is ok. It also raises the issue of child abuse and the fact that this is a major problem in New Zealand. Readers’ comments on the article indicate that eight years after the law was reformed, many people do not understand why law change was a good thing. Reducing serious and deadly child abuse was never the primary reason for seeking law reform – those advocating law change understood that child abuse was a complex issue with many contributing causes including intergenerational family violence, drug and alcohol abuse and poverty and other family stress. It was hoped that over many years the law change and information about positive, non-violent parenting might contribute to changing attitudes but this was never going to be an instant fix or immediate solution to child abuse on its own. Here are some reasons why the law change was such an important move for our children.
- It respected children’s rights to be protected from physical attacks on their person and put them on the same basis in law as others in society.
- It reflected current research evidence that children subjected to physical punishment are more at risk of a wide range of poor developmental outcomes than those that are not hit.
- It encouraged parents to find safe, effective and non-violent means of disciplining (guiding) their children. The best way to teach a child respect is to respect them. Hitting another person, whatever their age is not a respectful act. Likewise hitting someone, whatever their age, does not teach them how to behave well – it teaches them to hit.
Progress towards prohibiting all corporal punishment of children in Pacific countries
11 June 2015
The Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children recently released a briefing Progress towards prohibiting all corporal punishment of children in Pacific countries which provided information on the status of corporal punishment in various settings (home, schools, child care, alternative care and institutions) in 16 Pacific nations including Australia and New Zealand and called for change. New Zealand is the only country on the list where corporal (physical) punishment is banned in all settings.
• Nine countries ban corporal punishment in schools – seven do not
• Corporal punishment is banned in penal institutions in nine states and as a sentence for crime in ten states.
• 15 countries do not protect young children in day care
• Still only 10.3% of Pacific children are protected in law from all corporal punishment in all settings.
• Analysis of data on child discipline found high rates of physical punishment of children in the Pacific
• The Governments in four countries, Fiji, Palau, Papua New Guinea and Samoa have made a commitment to banning all corporal punishment by accepting recommendations to do so made during the Universal Periodic Review of their overall human rights record but they have not yet done so.
Levels of violence towards women and children in the Pacific are of great concern.. Outdated social norms play a big part in the maintenance of the violence. The use of corporal punishment is a very dangerous norm contributing as it does to an intergenerational cycle of violence, child abuse and poor developmental outcomes for children.
Beth Wood, from Epoch New Zealand attended a unicef Pacific sponsored conference in Fiji “End Violence against children Pacific Conference” and spoke to the Briefing. Her speech can be read here.
Prohibiting violent punishment of girls and boys – a key element in ending family violence.
17 March 2015
The Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children has published a briefing for the 59th session of the Commission on the Status of Women, March 2015.
In 2014 the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women and the Committee on the Rights of the Child identified corporal punishment as a harmful practice and recommended that states amend or adopt legislation with a view to eliminating harmful practices. There is a growing bank of research demonstrating the close links between corporal punishment of children and violence in intimate relationships between adults. For example being physically punished as a child was associated with inflicting violence on a partner or child as an adult in all five studies included in a meta- analysis published by Elizabeth Gershoff in 2002.
Although the number of countries that prohibit corporal punishment is accelerating (10 in the last year – 44 altogether) there is a long way to go before all children are protected. Prohibiting corporal punishment of children is a key element in addressing violence against children and promoting gender equality.
Pope Francis comments on disciplining children
11 February 2015
According to a BBC report, Pope Francis appears to confuse smacking, correction and punishment with discipline and guidance.
The Pope is reported to have said: "One time, I heard a father in a meeting with married couples say 'I sometimes have to smack my children a bit, but never in the face so as to not humiliate them."
"How beautiful," he added. "He knows the sense of dignity. He has to punish them but does it justly and moves on."
Pope Francis outlined the traits of a good father: “One who forgives but is able to “correct with firmness” while not discouraging the child”.
Firmness does not equate to physical pain or invasion of a small child’s physical integrity and smacking does not correct unwelcome behaviour by showing the child what is wanted. It may “teach” other things such as distrust of a parent, resentment and that it is ok to hit when you are angry.
The Pope does not elaborate on what he means by “not discouraging the child” – he may mean something like not damaging the child’s emotional health.
Read four Guardian writers responses to the Pope’s comments here.
International child advocates will be drawing the Pope’s attention to the wealth of research information that now exists about the risk factors and poor outcomes that are associated with physical punishment and the excellent information that is available about positive non-violent parenting.