November 2005

Support for repeal grows

Over the last few months EPOCH has engaged more public support for repeal.  The list of agencies that support repeal has grown to over 120.  This is a very impressive sign of support for children's rights and well being.   EPOCH NZ also keeps a list of individuals willing to be named publicly as supporting repeal.  If you want to be publicly listed as supporting repeal of s 59 of the Crimes Act, contact EPOCH at

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Some people are not convinced that physical punishment harms children, despite significant research evidence that it can harm children, and often does.  Evidence continues to appear: BBC news recently reported on a new study into the effects of smacking on children.  The study involved 336 families in six countries.  Some accepted smacking as legitimate discipline and others did not.  The study found that children who are smacked are more likely to become aggressive and anxious than those who are not.  See:

Pro-smackers continue to spread alarm about what will happen if section 59 is repealed.  If the law is repealed, anyone who hit a child could be prosecuted for assault.  The case at present is that parents who assault their child can be prosecuted.  What would be different after repeal is that parents who are charged and prosecuted would no longer be able to use the statutory defence allowed in s 59 of the Crimes Act.  We believe that the standard for prosecution is not likely to change and that only parents making serious assaults would be charged.

Some concerns have been expressed that parents might be prosecuted for protecting their child from danger or providing minor care and control, like taking a child to his or her bedroom or carrying a crying child from a supermarket.  Many such actions are currently covered by provisions in law or common law, and would remain so after repeal of s59.