On Friday in a speech at a business breakfast in Waipu – transcript here – Winston Peters said under WHAT NZ FIRST WILL DO:
- To battle this problem New Zealand First will lower the age of criminal responsibility.
- We will change social welfare to demand parental accountability.
- We are not going to spend taxpayers’ money on parents who won’t keep their side of the deal.
- We will make sure there are far more police – 1800 more as soon as they can be trained.
After all, the last time we had a chance we trained 1000 front line police in three years flat.
- We will return this country to what other generations knew: That crime doesn’t pay.
- We are going to repeal the anti-smacking law which doesn’t work and has in fact seen greater violence towards children.
Anti crime, which presumably means anti-violent crime, but pro smacking.
Peters/NZ First also put out a media release titled ‘We Will Return NZ To: Crime Doesn’t Pay’
To battle widespread criminal behaviour by young people socially DNA-ed for destruction as seen in Kaikohe last weekend, New Zealand First will, among other measures, repeal the anti-smacking law.
“We live in a ‘PC age’ where there are more rules on the teachers and the police than young offenders and their parents,” said Mr Peters in a speech at Waipu this morning.
“We no longer hold these little ‘tow-rag’ offenders responsible for their actions.
“Instead we hear 100 different reasons why it’s not their fault.
“They’re old enough to know exactly what they’re doing.
“They know they will get away with it and that there will be no repercussions.
”Meanwhile, the old parties in parliament want the age of criminal responsibility raised.
“Many of these politicians have no idea how the other half live and don’t venture into the real world.
“Besides repealing the anti-smacking law, which doesn’t work and has in fact seen greater violence towards children, New Zealand First will lower the age of criminal responsibility; change social welfare to demand parental accountability and will make sure there are far more police on the frontline – 1800 more as soon as they can be trained.
“We will return this country to what other generations knew: That crime doesn’t pay,” said Mr Peters.
Calling young people toe-rags and encouraging the bash may appeal to populist votes but it is unlikely to solve youth crime.
Does Peters have any evidence to support his claim the the anti-smacking law “doesn’t work and has in fact seen greater violence towards children”? He has habit of making unsubstantiated claims.
Sue Bradford has called Peters a ‘dangerous old man’:
Winston Peters has been labelled a “dangerous old man” who’s “really past his prime”, after vowing to repeal the so-called anti-smacking law.
Sue Bradford, the former Green MP behind the law, told The AM Show on Monday she was “horrified” by his recent comments.
“What he’s advocating is the return of the legalising of assault on our children, which is the last thing our kids need and the last thing the kids of Northland need.”
Ms Bradford said: “He’s talking about this on the back of the incident up in Kaikohe recently with the young people rampaging.
“Those kids probably see far too much violence I’d suggest in their lives already, far too much poverty, unemployment, a lack of opportunities for their families in their part of the country.”
The 2007 law change removed the defence of “reasonable force” in cases where parents and caregivers were being prosecuted for assault on children.
“It’s helped massively to change the idea that actually parents and other adults responsible for children are legally entitled to use physical punishment on their kids, that sometimes led to quite serious assaults,” said Ms Bradford.
Repealing the law would send the wrong message, she believes.
“We’ve got ‘it’s not okay’ campaigns about beating our partners, our wives, but on the other hand, children don’t matter?”
Conservative lobby group Family First says there have been massive increases in child abuse in the decade since the law began, but Ms Bradford says repealing the anti-smacking law won’t fix that.
“As the truly dreadful levels of family violence in this country continue, they cannot be laid to this law. No law can stop that.”
Massive increases in child abuse in the decade since the law began? That seems like a massive exaggeration, and I’d be surprised if they have evidence of a direct connection between the law change and levels of violence against children.
Family First have always strongly opposed the law change. They have put out a media release in support of Peters: NZ First Repeal Of Anti-Smacking Law Welcomed
This makes some claims about violence levels.
Police statistics show there has been a 136% increase in physical abuse, 43% increase in sexual abuse, 45% increase in neglect or ill-treatment of children, and 71 child abuse deaths since the law was passed in 2007. CYF have had more than 1 million notifications of abuse and there has been a 42% increase in physical abuse found by CYF since 2007.
But that does nothing to prove cause and effect. There are alternative claims that a greater awareness of violence against children has led to greater levels of reporting of abuse, which may be a positive effect rather than a negative effect.
In the past excessive smacking (more than a tap on the bum) and bashing tended to get swept under legal and social carpets.
I think that it’s very difficult to prove the effects of the law change on offending rates.
I believe that any moves to encourage less violence, and less smacking while encouraging effective alternatives, has to end up being better for children in general in the long run.
Peters may get some votes from his support of smacking law repeal, but I think it will come to nothing more than that.
I think it is very unlikely that there will be enough votes in Parliament to just repeal the smacking law. The old version was seriously flawed.
The only chance of change is if someone comes up with an improvement to the also flawed current law – but at least it signals that violence against children should be reduced.
No indication from Peters whether he would add smacking law repeal to his list of coalition bottom lines.