November 2003


The last few months have seen unprecedented focus on discussion and debate about the use of physical punishment with children and about section 59 Crimes Act 1961.  Such discussion is part of the process of social change that will hopefully see New Zealand eventually become a country where smacking and hitting children is unacceptable.  However the debate is sometimes confused.

For instance, the number of parents in New Zealand who still think smacking is a necessary part of child rearing is not clear.  Polls that ask should it be illegal to smack children inevitably raise fears of prosecution so score heavily against law change.  Letters to the newspapers increasingly present opposing arguments as do feature articles.EPOCH New Zealand is clear in its aims:

  • EPOCH New Zealand wants section 59 of the Crimes Act 1961 fully repealed.  Section 59 is an outdated and unfair law that has sometimes served children poorly in the courts.  Repeal is also an essential part of bringing about attitude change.
  • EPOCH New Zealand also wants to see the public message that smacking and hitting are not positive ways of disciplining children promoted by leaders at all levels in the community.  We want to see physical punishment discouraged and alternatives promoted.

EPOCH New Zealand does not want to see parents prosecuted for using occasional smacks and does not believe that a law change would lead to this.  But at the same time it is important that there is a clear and unequivocal message promoted about the undesirability of use of physical punishment.
EPOCH continues to try to allay fears and publish easily read material to promote positive non-violent discipline and allay fears about the effects of law change.  Please help us by distributing EPOCH New Zealand's "Five Good Reasons Pamphlets".  These have been updated recently and a fourth pamphlet explaining why merely changing the law to describe safe smacking is not enough has been developed.  These are available to download from the EPOCH New Zealand website or paper copies can be obtained from 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 .