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New Zealand parties reach compromise to pass "child smacking" law change

New Zealand parties reach compromise to pass "child smacking" law change

New Zealand's main political parties agreed Wednesday to support a legal reforms that outlaws child beating but does not criminalize parents who use "inconsequential" force against a child.
Hours before a crucial debate on a bill to close a legal loophole that currently protects parents charged with child beating, the governing Labor Party and main opposition National Party announced the compromise.
The controversial new law will make it an offense for parents to use force to discipline their children.
Under the compromise, police are given the discretion "not to prosecute complaints ... involving the use of force against a child where the offense is considered so inconsequential there is no public interest in proceeding with a prosecution."
"Nobody wants to see those parents marched off" to the courts who give a child "a light tap in the supermarket," Prime Minister Helen Clark told National Radio.
The amendment, which will become a "police prosecution guideline," means the Bill will pass with a "very substantial majority of Parliament, which is a wonderful achievement," Clark said.
"We think we've ... allayed any concern" from "ordinary, decent parents trying to bring up kids," she said, after working to draw up the new clause.
The announcement came shortly before conservative Christian church groups were to rally outside Parliament to oppose the law change, warning it would criminalize parents who use light smacking to discipline children.
Mainstream Protestant churches are to hold a counter-rally at the nearby Anglican Cathedral "for peace in our families."
Green lawmaker and legal reform proponent Sue Bradford said the compromise overcomes a "huge campaign of misinformation" mounted against her bill that removes legal protection for parents who beat their children.
"This (amended) bill means ... New Zealand has finally grown up," she said.
"Politicians have the courage to take leadership and say that the right of kids to be protected from violence ... comes before the right of parents when they hit or beat their children," Bradford said.
Former children's commissioner Roger McClay called the move "a great step forward for the New Zealand Parliament and for kids" in the society.
"It will reduce the violence in our society over time. If it saves one child's life that's a great thing," he said, noting that "we're still killing one child every five weeks in New Zealand."


Updated : 2021-07-30 12:08 GMT+08:00