July 2004

Stop it, it hurts me: research and Perspectives on the physical punishment of children

This two-day seminar organised by the Children's Issues Centre (Otago University) may prove a turning point in bringing about change in New Zealand.  The standard of presentation was outstanding and the meeting left participants with energy and enthusiasm for working toward change.

Professor Anne Smith presented highlights from the research by the Children's Issues Centre, and the Commissioner for Children, Cindy Kiro, reminded us that we still have a long way to go to give all children a reasonable chance in life, including safety from child abuse.  Cindy asked us to take children's rights seriously and spoke of the link between physical punishment and child abuse.

Amster Reedy spoke eloquently about traditional Maori views of children, their special place in society and their need for protection.  He is personally opposed to any form of violence to children including physical punishment.  Tino Pereira gave his personal perspective of the origins of Samoan attitudes about physical punishment.  He believes that violence to children had no place in traditional Samoan society and that missionaries encouraged physical punishment.  He believes that hope for change now lies with churches teaching a new message.

Workshops gave participants an opportunity to discuss legal developments around the world, organisational and professional responsibilities, parenting, community development and children's views on physical discipline.

Associate Professor Joan Durrant's keynote topic was "Whose body is it anyway?  Physical punishment, children's rights and parental responsibility". The full text of this and other keynote presentations will be published in the September issue of the Children's Issues Centre Journal Childrenz Issues.  To subscribe to this journal contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .  See other articles in this newsletter for some of the key points from Joan's presentations while in New Zealand