May 2006

Child Abuse and Neglect Conference

In February 2006, the Australasian Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect (ACCAN) was held in Wellington. Over 1000 delegates from New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific attended.  Ending physical punishment of children was a significant theme of the conference.  There was a plenary session, presented by Professor Anne Smith of the Children's Issues Centre, University of Otago, and Associate Professor Joan Durrant (visiting from Canada) and a stream of papers dedicated to "Discipline and Guidance of Children". Jane and James Ritchie and Ian Hassall asked the conference to support repeal of section 59 Crimes Act 1961 and there was unanimous approval of their writing to the Justice and Electoral Select Committee, on behalf of the conference, with a recommendation for repeal.  The Prime Minister (Helen Clark), the Minister of Youth Development (Nanaia Mahuta) and the Minister of Child, Youth and Family (Ruth Dyson) all made supportive references to repeal of section 59 in their presentations.

Most of the presentations from the conference can be downloaded from the website: www.nzfvc.org.nz/accan/. Click on Abstracts, Papers and Presentations, or Conference Programme and under concurrent presentations go to the "Discipline and Guidance" stream in each concurrent session.

Some highlights include:

  • Anne Smith and Joan Durrant, Physical Punishment: The state of research and the state of law.
  • Jamie Hosking, Is smacking in New Zealand a public health problem?
  • Jane Ritchie, Legal change as a means of child protection. The story of a campaign.
  • Terry Dobbs, What do children tell us about physical punishment as a risk factor for child abuse?
  • Clare Breen, Corporal Punishment as violation of the rights of the child.
  • Nove Vialaau, A theology of children