Monday, August 08, 2005

Every Child Counts has no policy on Section 59


Every Child Counts is a lobby group set up to repeal Section 59 of the Crimes Act - or so it would have you believe. This section permits reasonable force for parental physical discipline.

The lobby group is headed by a project team and a steering group but the chief spokespeople come from individuals in three organisations: Plunket, Barnardos and the Institute of Public Policy at AIT.

Every Child Counts has four key policy issues which all the 300 plus affiliated organisations have agreed to. These are putting the child at the centre of policy development, giving children a good start, ending child poverty and reducing child abuse and neglect. Everyone at Every Blogger Counts supports these aims, because many bloggers have children too.

The trouble is that most of its publicity lately is about an issue that none of the groups of Every Child Counts has signed up to. Much of the talk from Every Child Counts is about banning smacking and supporting a repeal of Section 59 of the Crimes Act. However this is not one of their key policy issues - in fact it is not even a policy issue at all. Every Child Counts has not adopted a formal position on banning smacking - or anything related to Sue Bradford's Bill banning smacking. Sue Bradford didn’t appear to be aware of this as she acknowledges the assistance of Every Child Counts in her campaign to ban smacking.

So when people started noticing that all of a sudden Every Child Counts was putting out media releases supporting Bradford's bill, and saying it should go to a select committee, a number of these affiliated organisations got a bit annoyed as they did not support a smacking ban. They advised the coordinators of Every Child Counts that they had no right speaking on behalf of affiliated groups as the position was not in the policy overview. These releases were issued to the media from Barnardos under the banner of Every Child Counts.

As a result of the concerns raised, those at Every Child Counts desisted in putting out such media releases. Sort of anyway. What they do instead is get a media release done from the policy wonks at the AIT. Once the release is written it then goes off to Barnardos. Then it gets forwarded on to Deborah Morris- Travers from the NZ Plunket Society and - hey presto - it’s a release from the NZ Plunket Society.

But whose web site runs the media release: Every Child Counts of course. It is not even on Plunket's website.

What do all the groups affiliated to Every Child Counts think of this?

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