Family First Advertisements in Sunday papers

Designed to frighten and mislead people about the child discipline law.

Last Sunday, 10 February 2009, Family First funded expensive advertisements in some Sunday papers. Family First is one of the organisations promoting the pro-smacking referendum to be held by postal ballot in New Zealand in July/August this year.  Their clear agenda is to make it legal to hit children again in New Zealand.  Family First are a conservative Christian organisation and as such may believe that God requires parents to smack children – to teach them to bow to their parents’ will and to God’s. This is not the agenda that is upfront in the recent advertisements.    Family First sets out to prove that families have been harassed and unjustifiably investigated because of the child discipline law (Crimes (Substituted Section 59) Amendment Act 2007). The stories in the advertisement tell one side of the story only.  Child Youth and Family is unable to tell the full story because of confidentially requirements.   Family First has previously defended cases that turn out, on further investigation,  to involve child abuse or risk of child abuse.  It is appropriate that authorities investigate when a child may be in danger.  Family First advertisements do not refer to Police information that shows the law is working well and that there has only been a minimal increase in complaints about minor incidents of assault on children.  The claim that child abuse is not diminishing, using child deaths from abuse as the measure is also misleading.  The law change was never going to impact immediately on the extreme end of child abuse and no-one claimed it would.  Child deaths from abuse usually happen in families where there have been generations of violence.  Perhaps in some cases, because of the law and the clear message it sends about non-violence, it will only take one generation to change the pattern.