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11 August 2005Read more here.
Mr Craig Smith
National Director Family Integrity
PO Box 9064
Dear Mr Smith,
On behalf of the Commissioner I am writing in reply to your letter of 26 July 2005 concerning Section 59 of the Crimes Act 1961.
As you will be aware, section 59 of the Crimes Act 1961 authorises parents to use force by way of correction towards their children, if the force used is reasonable in the circumstances. If section 59 was repealed in its entirety parents would not be authorised to use reasonable force by way of correction. Having said this, I am advised that parents would still be authorised to use force to prevent harm to their children. For example, if a parent stopped their child from running out onto a busy road or stopped their child from climbing over a balcony on a building.
However, smacking of a child by way of corrective action would be an assault. I am advised that the Police in investigating such cases, as is the case with all assault investigations, would consider the amount of force used in the circumstances before making a decision about whether a prosecution is required in the public interest. An aggravating factor in any such decision may be the fact that a child is generally more vulnerable than an adult.
I trust this matter clarifies this matter for you.
A Jack (Dr)
NM - Legal Services
Office of the Commissioner