from Family Integrity
letter from Craig Smith to the Commissioner of Police:
Commissioner of Police
PO Box 3017
Dear Mr Robinson,
Should Section 59 of the Crimes Act be repealed, what assurances can you
give to the parents of New Zealand that they will not be charged with
assault under Section 194(a) of the Crimes Act if they subsequently were
to smack their child(ren) on the clothed buttocks with an open hand by
way of corrective discipline?
Craig S. Smith
Here is the reply is from Dr A. Jack, Legal Services, Office of the
Commissioner of Police and is on Police letterhead.
11 August 2005
Mr Craig Smith
National Director Family Integrity
PO Box 9064
Dear Mr Smith,
On behalf of the Commissioner I am writing in reply to your letter of 26
July 2005 concerning Section 59 of the Crimes Act 1961.
As you will be aware, section 59 of the Crimes Act 1961 authorises
parents to use force by way of correction towards their children, if the
force used is reasonable in the circumstances. If section 59 was
repealed in its entirety parents would not be authorised to use
reasonable force by way of correction. Having said this, I am advised
that parents would still be authorised to use force to prevent harm to
their children. For example, if a parent stopped their child from
running out onto a busy road or stopped their child from climbing over a
balcony on a building.
However, smacking of a child by way of corrective action would be an
assault. I am advised that the Police in investigating such cases, as is
the case with all assault investigations, would consider the amount of
force used in the circumstances before making a decision about whether a
prosecution is required in the public interest. An aggravating factor in
any such decision may be the fact that a child is generally more
vulnerable than an adult.
I trust this matter clarifies this matter for you.
A Jack (Dr)
NM - Legal Services
Office of the Commissioner