Family First NZ is highlighting a number of cases showing that good parents and grandparents are becoming the innocent victims of the anti-smacking law.
“Rather than resources and legislation tackling child abusers who have no regard for the law or for the welfare of their children, the anti-smacking law has impacted good parents, solo mums and even grandparents,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. “Police have also been the victims of having to enforce a badly thought out and drafted law that throws every parent under suspicion and the need for potential investigation.”
Family First is aware of at least nine families who have been impacted by the legislation. Five of these cases have been documented in full page newspaper ads last month (http://www.familyfirst.org.nz/files/LATEST%20-%20Reality%20Hits_SST.pdf ).
Since then, more families have come forward, traumatised and fearful after being unnecessarily investigated because of the effect of the new law.
One solo mother was investigated after a passerby claimed to have simply heard a 9 year old screaming in the house. The mother told Family First “I have found the whole episode to be extremely distressing. I felt completely humiliated to literally be accused of child abuse and have now found it hard to sleep at night as it has upset me so much – how I look after and care for my children is being questioned. On hearsay I am now a guilty person. This new law is ending up with a lot of good innocent parents being wrongfully accused. This law needs to be changed.”
A south Auckland grandmother went to prevent her two year old grandson from running onto the road by grabbing his arm and pulling him back to the footpath. A police officer witnessed her and said she was breaking the law by grabbing him. She was let off with a warning but was told that if it ever happened again, they would prosecute her. (She had been extra cautious as she recently lost a friend’s 6-year old child to a train tragedy.)
She now puts her grandchild in the pram to avoid getting arrested. Her family is horrified by what’s happened and she’s now concerned about taking her grandchildren out in public. She feels she’s been publicly humiliated. Another grandmother told her that she’d been interviewed by the police for giving her 4 year old grandson a smack on the bottom in a Countdown store for swearing at her.
And a solo mum’s 8 year old daughter became defiant towards her and was stood down from school for kicking a teacher in the leg after the police told the class that they should report their parents if they got a smack. The mum found the treatment of the police “intimidating” and “degrading”. The mother in desperation at her treatment spoke to her local MP, and was then contacted by the District Commander of the Police who told her not to go complaining to the MP because he had better things to do.
“These are real cases of a bad law opposed by a huge majority of NZ’ers – and for good reason,” says Mr McCoskrie.
Family First will continue to lobby for the decriminalisation of light smacking, and is also supporting the petitions demanding a Referendum at next year’s general election on smacking and dealing with the real causes of child abuse.
“The target is 300,000 signatures and currently there are 240,000 on both petitions. That’s how strong the opposition is to this badly thought-out law change.”
Full list of cases: http://www.familyfirst.org.nz/index.cfm/cases.html