Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Feilding March2: A light smack does not bruise, maim or kill

this from
By GRANT MILLER - Manawatu Standard | Tuesday, 3 April 2007

New Zealand's child abuse problem is absolutely disgusting, the organiser of a Feilding protest against the "anti-smacking bill" said yesterday.

Feilding mum Dianne Woodward asked the crowd of about 200 people for a minute's silence for "the poor little darlings who have been injured by big cruel monsters".

But a light smack does not bruise, maim or kill, she said.

The protest near the clock tower was the second in eight days, designed to keep up public pressure on a government that is looking increasingly beleaguered on the issue.

The bill, promoted by Green MP Sue Bradford, removes Section 59 of the Crimes Act, which permits parents to use "reasonable force" to correct children.

The planned law change means parents would have no statutory defence for assault if they physically disciplined their children to correct their behaviour.

Many of the protesters yesterday objected to what they called state interference in the way they run their families.

"I don't judge those who choose not to smack. I respect their choice in how they bring up their children," said protester Yvonne Cameron.

Nationally, 100,000 signatures have been gathered in five weeks from people demanding a citizens initiated referendum. The petition needs at least 300,000 signatures in 12 months for a non-binding referendum to be held. Petition organiser Sheryl Savill, from Auckland, said yesterday momentum is building against repealing Section 59 - and that was before Prime Minister Helen Clark announced the Government would not take over the bill to speed its progress through Parliament.

Yesterday's announcement follows Labour flirting with using urgency to rush the bill through the House, before abandoning the move.

Parliament is still expected to pass the bill into law, although polls indicate New Zealanders are overwhelmingly against it.

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