First Reading of Boscawen Bill postponed

Crimes (Reasonable Parental Control and Correction) Amendment Bill

This bill, drawn from the ballot in August 2009, has yet to have its first reading.   The Parliamentary Order paper of 17th March 2010 advised that the first hearing is postponed until September 1010.  Regulations entitle Mr Boscawen to postpone a 1st reading.  Presumably Mr Boscawen hopes there will be more support for his bill by then.  At present it would be defeated at 1st reading with all parties other than ACT declining support for it.
The bill is aimed at re-introduding a statutory defence into section 59 of the Crimes Act 1961.

If enacted it would allow the use of force for

  • correcting the behaviour of the child.

It would define force as unreasonable if it

  • causes the child to suffer injury that is more than transitory and trifling
  • is inflicted by any weapon, tool, or other implement
  • is inflicted by any means that is cruel or degrading.

Parents would be less clear than they are under the present law what use of force is permissable.  Under the present law no use of force is permitted when correcting a child.

Reintroducing a statutory defence would not provide parents with better protection from prosecution for minor assaults than the current law does.  It would send out an unfortunate public message that use of force in correction is ok even desirable - an unhelpful public message given what we know about the disadvantages and dangers of physical punishment