Observers responsible but not judges?

The Crimes Amendment Bill (No 2) which aims to protect vulnerable children from abuse and neglect passed its second reading on Tuesday.

It creates a new offence of failing to take reasonable steps to protect a child or vulnerable adult from the risk of death, grievous bodily harm, or sexual assault, with a maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment.

Justice Minister Simon Power said:

“New Zealand has a shameful history of child abuse and this bill will make an example of adults who put their interests before those of the vulnerable children around them,” Mr Power said.

“This bill sends a very clear message that it’s no longer okay for people to turn a blind eye.”

Mr Power said a parent or person over 18 may be found liable if they have frequent contact with the victim, and:

  • They are a member of the same household as the victim.
  • Though they do not live in the same household, they are so closely connected with it that they are regarded as a member of it.
  • They are a staff member of a hospital or institution where the victim resides.

On top of that, the bill doubles the maximum penalty for cruelty to a child from five years to 10 years’ imprisonment and extends the offence to include vulnerable adults – those in care because of their age, detention, sickness, or mental impairment.

We do have a shameful record of abuse and neglect and that makes the case of the comedian whose name is suppressed who was discharged without conviction after pleading  guilty even more puzzling.

If I understand this correctly, had this bill been enacted, the mother of the child involved who laid the complaint would have committed an offense had she stayed silent.

If an adult who doesn’t act when they know a chid is being abused or neglected is wrong, how can a judge say the consequences of a conviction for someone who admits offending would outweigh the gravity of the offence?

8 Responses to Observers responsible but not judges?

  1. Andrei says:

    think about this – if I see my wife smack my child and not not denounce her to the authorities I potentially could be imprisoned for 10 years.

    I can assure you both me and my wife could have been found guilty under this legislation as could just about everybody I know the only exception being homosexual non breeders.

    Which is the real point of course to criminalize as many parents as possible so the STATE can get its sticky hands further into the upbringing of children to ensure that they hold the values of the STATE and not those of their parents.

    This is your party that is bringing in this hideous and oppressive legislation!

    Shame – the National Party are Stalin’s intellectual heirs.

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  2. Deborah says:

    I still feel ill about that judgement. Good post, Ele.

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  3. homepaddock says:

    Andrei – this isn’t aimed at anyone who gives a light smack (which contrary to the belief of people who promoted the anti-smacking legislation still isn’t illegal providing it’s not done for correction).

    This legislation is to protect children who are sexually and physically abused – hung on clotheslines, put in dryers, thumped, burned . . . . there is a long, tragic list of them.

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  4. pdm says:

    How do you define a light smack? mrs pdm and I rarely smacked our children but when we did we wanted them to remember it for next time. ll smacks were on the buttocks or back of the thighs.

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  5. pdm says:

    last sentence – All………….

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  6. Andrei says:

    which contrary to the belief of people who promoted the anti-smacking legislation still isn’t illegal providing it’s not done for correction

    So it’s legal if you do it for reasons of sexual perversion rather than as a discouragement from sticking knitting needles into electrical sockets?

    This legislation is to protect children who are sexually and physically abused – hung on clotheslines, put in dryers, thumped, burned . . . . there is a long, tragic list of them.

    Yes but we have laws already and the people who do these things break the existing laws which do not have any effect in stopping them from doing these terrible things.

    In fact the people who do these things break all sorts of laws and making new laws for them to break just means more laws for them to break and is a pointless exercise – no?

    Its a cultural thing you see and creating laws that would make people like me potentially law breakers is not only counter productive it is dangerous. and wicked.

    That’s the trap, we wring our hands, I weep actually, over these dreadful things then accept wrong headed and intrusive laws passed in the name of fixing them – laws which ultimately do more harm than good and snaffle good people in their nets.

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  7. pdm says:

    Andrei your last para is so right – well said.

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  8. MacDoctor says:

    In many recent cases of child murders, we see that the professional staff that came into contact with the children – police, social workers, teachers, doctors, nurses – did not notice any evidence of abuse. Every one of these people may now have to defend themselves in court, if the police can make a reasonable case that they SHOULD have known. This is often easier than you may think because hindsight is invariably clearer than foresight.

    I expect the inevitable unintended consequence of this will be massive over- reporting of child abuse; the rapid overwhelming of social services and the further breakdown of the family as family members are pitted against each other. And the inevitable consequence of that will be MORE abuse, not less.

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