I’ll Pull My Bill, Bradford Warns
11:57 am, 11 Oct 2006
Green MP Sue Bradford warns she will withdraw her bill removing protection for parents who physically discipline their children if a parliamentary majority tries to dilute it by defining reasonable force.
As a select committee considers whether to change the bill before reporting it back to Parliament at the end of the month, Otago University researchers have published a study finding that children who are smacked lightly with an open hand grow up unharmed.
Opponents to the bill say it will criminalise good parents who occasionally smack or restrain their children, and Ms Bradford has already said she would consider an amendment to make clear that parents who restrain their children to protect them or others are not breaking the law.
However, she said today it would be "very, very dangerous" as a result of this sort of research to try to define what sort of hitting or smacking was acceptable.
Trying to define reasonable force would be the worst thing that could happen to her Crimes (Abolition of Force as a Justification for Child Discipline) Amendment Bill, which would amend the Crimes Act to remove the defence of reasonable force should a parent be charged with
assaulting their child.
She said she would withdraw the bill if there were the numbers in Parliament to support a definition of reasonable force, built around
"It would destroy the bill, and I would withdraw it," she told National Radio.
"Any attempt to define what is acceptable use of force against violence children actually undermines everything we are trying to do," she said.
It would not protect children, would give parents a blueprint of what was acceptable violence and undermine education programmes.
"And basically it would make the law even worse by saying our society actually condones these forms of violence against children, these are
The research did not change the rationale for her bill which was to completely repeal Section 59 of the act so violence against children was
She was quite happy to agree that children who got the odd light smack were probably not harmed, but looking at one act of violence on its own was not enough, she said.
The select committee was trying to write the bill to reassure parents that the intention was not to have parents who occasionally smack their
Ms Bradford said she did not know if there was enough support for the bill to pass a second reading.
Some parties are giving their MPs a conscience vote on it.
We could hardly ask for more! Continue to apply pressure to your MP to dump the Bill.
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