Parenting Put on Trial by Anti-Smacking Law

Family First NZ says that the quashing of the assault conviction against Christchurch parent James Mason, who was prosecuted by police for pulling the ear of his 4 year old when trying to prevent him from injuring himself as his younger brother had just done, should still sound warning bells to parents about the implementation of the anti-smacking law.

“Family First always said that if the conviction was for an ear pull rather than a punch in the face, it was inappropriate. The acknowledgement by the Crown Solicitor and the subsequent quashing of the conviction by the Supreme Court today shows that the application of discretion and the lumping together of substantially different actions was flawed,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

The Court of Appeal had earlier admitted that ‘with his hands (Mason’s) literally full and undoubtedly distressed by what had happened to the younger boy he saw the older boy at risk of similar or worse trouble and acted precipitately’.

“Parenting in New Zealand has been put on trial. The politicians have dealt a heavy legislative blow to parents, and parents are feeling disempowered, disrespected, and demonised as child abusers.”

“As well as that, the police are caught in the middle trying to balance the zero tolerance approach to family violence against the so-called discretion offered under the anti-smacking law.”

“After almost two years and two appeals, Mason has been acquitted. If he hadn’t highlighted his case to the media, the police would have left it at a warning, and he would never have gone through the hell that he has,” says Mr McCoskrie.

Family First NZ is challenging Prime Minister John Key to amend the law that he has labeled a dog’s breakfast, and introduce the amendment that he lobbied for before he became Prime Minister which decriminalizes light smacking for the purpose of correction.

“NZ’ers have no confidence in this law and are confused by it,” says Mr McCoskrie. “Good parents taking their kids for a bike ride and trying to keep them safe deserve the support of the state – not criminalisation.”

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