The purpose of the Bill

Many supporters of repeal have had as their primary purpose the promotion of change - improving the status of children so that they will be treated better and changing the culture of the nation and getting rid of the idea that any degree of violence towards children is necessary or justified.

Much has been made of the fact that the purpose of law is not to send a message to society.  Whether or not a law should send messages is debatable - some laws, especially those affecting children's well-being contain principles - clear messages to both those administering the law and to the public about the ethical and moral values that underpin the law.

What is clear is that our public health messages and child well-being should not be undermined by law.  Do we have a law that says you can drink and drive?  Do we have a law that says you have an excuse not to wear a seat belt?  Do we have a law that says it is fine to smoke in public places?

There are claims that the only purpose of law change is to reduce serious child abuse.  The use of physical discipline is a risk factor for child abuse and in time the law will, along with other anti-violence and positive parenting measures, help reduce child abuse but it will not stop all abuse.  One of the factors that contribute to widespread child abuse is a belief in the legitimacy and efficacy of physical discipline.