March 2005

A court decision against physical punishment

A judge in the Blenheim District Court recently found a man guilty of assault in a case where a babysitter smacked a child between six and 10 times causing bruising across the buttocks. The judge said children ought to be protected from that sort of violence and the assault had to be taken seriously. He said, "If you were in the position of a parent I would have taken the same view of the matter" and "This was a young three-year-old child.  Whatever behaviour problems he was exhibiting he didn't deserve this sort of assault".

It is pleasing to see this relatively common type of physical punishment condemned in court.  Such decisions can influence behaviour because of the standards they set.  Sadly, the outcome to the case may have been very different if the babysitter had chosen against admitting the assault and instead chosen trial by jury.  In this case the defendant did not cite section 59 as a defence.