August 2003


In a previous newsletter EPOCH New Zealand expressed concern about the new law in New South Wales that rather ambiguously allows children to be hit on the body, even with an implement, as long as the punishment does not harm the child more than briefly. In a recent case, a man was charged under the Crimes Amendment (Child Protection - Physical Mistreatment) Act for hitting his child with a belt, leaving sustained bruising on the child's thighs and buttocks.  The man was successfully prosecuted and sentenced to a 12-month good-behaviour bond.  While the successful prosecution may serve as a warning to parents in NSW that harsh physical punishment is unacceptable, it is unlikely to change attitudes about the use of physical punishment in itself.  It seems that parents will have to wait for case law to accumulate before knowing how much hitting will be regarded as too much under the new law.