Sunday, December 09, 2007

Original Section 59 Does Its Job

Family First Media Release - 7 December 2007

Family First is welcoming the conviction of two foster parents who were today found guilty of assaulting two sisters in their care, including hitting one in the face with a baseball bat.

"Despite the original section 59 being available as a possible defence to the couple, it has not protected them in any way, and neither should it have," says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. "The actions of these foster parents were not reasonable – they were simply abusive."

"This case shows that when applied correctly, abusive parents could not use section 59 to their advantage. That was the original design of the law, and it was not the law itself that was at fault – it was simply its application in a couple of high profile cases. It has done its job perfectly in this case."

"But what we have now is confusing to parents, is targeting good and non-abusive parents with malicious and unwarranted complaints, has distracted police and CYF resources from at-risk families, and has done nothing to stem the flow of our unacceptable child abuse rates."

"The law change has failed to target drug and alcohol fuelled abuse or domestic violence, family breakdown or dysfunction, teenage parenting needs, and poverty and stress issues," says Mr McCoskrie.

"Until we resource and support frontline organisations like Plunket and other local community organisations working with at-risk families, provide midwives and appropriate postnatal care (especially to first-time and teen mothers), and strengthen struggling families with appropriate counseling and relationship support, no amount of tinkering with section 59 will achieve anything."

"But 83% of NZ'ers already know that."

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