Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?
Labour leader Phil Goff says the question implies that if you vote ‘yes’ that you’re in favour of criminal sanctions being taken against reasonable parents, when actually nobody believes that. [Emphasis added]
Section 59 of the Crimes Act 1961, the defence to the criminal charge of assault (“Every parent or person in place of a parent of a child is justified in using force by way of correction towards a child if that force is reasonable in the circumstances”) was part of our c r i m i n a l code. To reinstate s59 of the Crimes Act (or not) is the question.
If Mr Goff wants anyone to believe that removing a defence from the Crimes Act will not have any bearing on criminal sanctions against those charged with assault he needs to stop being a legislator.
Does making something a criminal offence mean that criminal sanctions should not be brought against those who commit the offence? If yes then it does not follow that giving a yes vote in the referendum means that you support criminal sanctions against those who smack their children. If the answer is no then it is already the case that criminal sanctions can be brought against offenders who smack their children because it is currently a criminal offence to do so – Goff’s claim that nobody advocates this is false because the Crimes Act does.
The only people confused here are Goff, Key, Bradford who seem to not understand that if your action crosses the Crimes Act then your action is criminal. Twits.
The only ambiguous, confusing thing about the law is the convoluted crap they inserted in place of s59. It reads like the sort of thing those who think they know a few things about the law write to impress their friends; read subsection (4) and see if you can work out what it means, it’s the bit that starts “to avoid doubt…” but then doesn’t (one wonders if Bradford wrote it herself, if someone with a law degree wrote it they should be up before the Bar).
New section 59 substituted
Section 59 is repealed and the following section substituted:
“59 Parental control
“(1) Every parent of a child and every person in the place of a parent of the child is justified in using force if the force used is reasonable in the circumstances and is for the purpose of—
“(a) preventing or minimising harm to the child or another person; or
“(b) preventing the child from engaging or continuing to engage in conduct that amounts to a criminal offence; or
“(c) preventing the child from engaging or continuing to engage in offensive or disruptive behaviour; or
“(d) performing the normal daily tasks that are incidental to good care and parenting.
“(2) Nothing in subsection (1) or in any rule of common law justifies the use of force for the purpose of correction.
“(3) Subsection (2) prevails over subsection (1).
“(4) To avoid doubt, it is affirmed that the Police have the discretion not to prosecute complaints against a parent of a child or person in the place of a parent of a child in relation to an offence involving the use of force against a child, where the offence is considered to be so inconsequential that there is no public interest in proceeding with a prosecution.”