BIG NEWS: My Mummy’s a criminal

Sunday, July 17, 2011

My Mummy’s a criminal

I often get a bit tired of hearing about the smacking debate, but just thought it was newsworthy that a website Protect Good Parents went online today.

Administered by the Family First Lobby, it features a video which I’ve embedded here with a bit of a commentary. It features five families that were criminalised as a result of the anti-smacking law and comments on a review by psychologist Nigel Latta, a review that the government has claimed is evidence that that the anti-smacking legislation is "working", because nobody has been criminalised.

Provocatively entitled My Mummy’s A Criminal this 30 minute video aims to show that people were getting investigated, arrested, prosecuted and hassled by CYFS for smacking their children. It shows interviews with smacking parents and how CYFS failed to follow its own procedures in investigating alleged smacking.

One family faced around 15 charges of abuse. It went to court. The lead juror was appalled she had to use her jury service time – almost four weeks - to preside over such a case, only to acquit them of all charges in 25 minutes. The juror says:
I was embarrassed…. I was so embarrassed to be a New Zealander. This poor wee girl that has fallen in love and married her man, ends up in what should be the happiest time of her life being tortured. Who really was cruel.
However, CYFS did not respect the acquittal as this family still do not have their children. There has been no contact for more than two and a half years - that’s eight months after their acquittal.

Another family was having difficulty with one of their children so they went to CYFS for help, but the parent was told the problem was with him - he had an anger problem.

Another parent poked her son with a pen. While that is not really “smacking” it does seem that it is something pretty trivial to get arrested for, and then put in a police cell. After appearing in court four months later, this parent was discharged without conviction because the judge said the pen was used “in a manner which was tapping a child on the back of the hand”.

One family got their kids taken away from them after alleged abuse caused by smacking and later received an apology from CYFS for the way they were treated. Their case was given a “critical” rating, a rating given to cases of rape or broken bones, and normally requires removal of children within 24 hours. Yet their kids weren’t taken away from them until three days later. They are now trying to have incorrect facts about their family in the Latta report [PDF] reviewed.

John Key was asked in 2009 whether a parent who smacked a child on the leg in the back of a car would get arrested. His response?
Well, I don’t think you could get arrested for that.
The video showed an interview of a person who was apparently convicted - not just arrested - for doing just that, although details are rather skant.

The video also mentions the Latta review [PDF] . One of the parents claimed that the review incorrectly states that their daughter was sexually abused; this family is alleging four breaches of CYFS procedure that were hidden from Latta. Another part of the report says that one parent was convicted of assault when he in fact was not.

Lawyer - and Labour Party candidate for Carterton - Michael Bott says the Latta review was a rubber stamping exercise.

Prime Minister John Key also features in the video, as does Labour leader Phil Goff. In 2009 Key said:
If you lightly smack a child, you shouldn’t be prosecuted, and you certainly shouldn’t be investigated. If the law doesn’t work and people do start getting arrested, or start getting prosecuted, I will change the law.
In 2008 John Key said
if we start seeing… good parents being hauled before the courts – then I’m going to do something about it.
John Key was handed a copy of the video on July 8.

Meanwhile latest figures show that 64 children have died while in the care of Child, Youth and Family over the last 10 years. A third were recorded as suicide.

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Blogger JamesHip said...

Thanks for posting this Dave. It does make me angry. Those of us who protested against the law change knew this was the likely result. It was inevitable. It is an injustice. It must not stand.

July 17, 2011 at 6:37 PM  
Blogger Major Bob said...

What can you expect! The world has changed, no longer do pollies listen to the people who vote them in and most of the people who work in these organisations (i.e. CYFS) are small people looking for power over over other people for the "better good". Its bullsh1t and it sticks. The government works for us not the other way round, outcomes of public referendum's should be law, not dismissed, the government should be ashamed by its actions on this subject. If this happened 200 years ago treason charges wo0uld have been applied.

July 17, 2011 at 11:20 PM  

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