Parental Understanding of the Recent Amendments to Section 59 of the Crimes Act: A Pilot Study
Wademan, Brecon; Bennett, Rebekah; Fergusson, Rosalie; Sew Hoy, Brent; Al-Herz, Fadhel; Chang, William; Loo, Zia; Sud, Ajay
Introduction: The Recent amendments to Section 59 of the Crimes Act were ushered into legislation on May 16 2007 alongside an unprecedented level of public debate. This legislative change was largely in response to New Zealand's poor domestic violence record and it is hoped that by following several other nations in legislating against the use of force for the purpose of correction that the amount of domestic violence will be reduced. Yet with these changes one must ask; do those people who these changes effect most actually understand the new legislation and the implications it has for them as Parents? Aims: To evaluate parental understanding of the recent changes to Section 59 of the Crimes Act. Methods: A survey was developed and distributed to Parents of children between the ages of 2-5 who attended one of 24 Early Childhood Learning Centres (ECLC) within Dunedin. The answers given by respondents were collated and analysed. Results: Showed parents believe their level of understanding about the recent changes is inadequate, this belief was confirmed by comparing their answers in a number of situations, with our legal advisors answers. Demographic data suggested that those respondents of lower educational level, in single parenting roles, with more children had the lowest level of understanding. This data also suggested we over sampled university educated individuals and as such results obtained are likely to over estimate the level of understanding in the general population. Interestingly our results also demonstrate that where respondents made mistakes in their answers the majority were where they would believe lawful acts to be unlawful. Our results also highlight parents' desire for greater clarification and information regarding the recent changes. Conclusion: Our study has demonstrated a significant lack of understanding regarding the recent amendments to Section 59 of the Crimes Act. We recommend further studies into the extent and specific nature of this deficit. Development of educational programs, which address what the new legislation means for parents in simple terms, alternative methods of correcting a child's undesirable behaviour and those supports available to parents, is also recommended. The distribution of these programs should be through those services involved in with supporting families.
Publisher: Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, Otago Medical School
Series number: 2007
Format: 46 p. : ill. ; 30 cm.