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1. Solo Mum Investigated by Police When Child Falls Over
South Auckland
This South Auckland mother had no previous CYF or Police involvement. In October, she took her 5 year old shopping. As they were leaving the supermarket, the mother chased some money which the daughter had dropped. She then grabbed the child’s hand to lead the child to the car, but the child tripped and fell over. When mum got her daughter back to the car, she gave her a hug and kiss. An hour later, 2 police officers were at the door interviewing both her and her 5 year old after a complaint had been laid. The police said it was a waste of time, but the complaint would be held on file. The mother said “They could have phoned. Their visit surprised me. It made me feel like a criminal. It made me question my parenting skills. I may have been frazzled but in no way did I abuse my child.”

2. Police Investigate Grandmother for Giving Swearing Grandchild a Smack in Shop
Bay of Plenty
In October, a woman had been shopping with her granddaughter at one of the Warehouse stores in the Bay of Plenty to buy a bubble blowing Kit. They decided on one on a lower shelf when the granddaughter spotted one more expensive higher up and insisted that she wanted that one. Grandma said no and the granddaughter let her feelings be known in an offensive verbal manner using the F word amongst others. Grandma responded with a smack. As they left the store, she was surprised to find a policeman waiting to interview her. Aaccording to the store management, a complaint had been made by a member of the public. Fortunately they didn't press charges, but the grandmother was shocked. 

3. Toddler's Bedtime Tantrum Brings Three Cops Knocking
West Auckland
NZ Herald August 14, 2007
When Karyn Scherer's 2-year-old threw a bedtime tantrum, the last thing the busy working mother expected was three police officers knocking on her door. But that's what happened on Saturday night after a neighbour of the senior Herald journalist called 111. The police who responded said they had to check everything as quickly as possible, given the number of children who suffered harm. Police made no apologies yesterday for responding to an emergency call to the Titirangi property from a neighbour who told them: "I can hear a child screaming ... and I've heard it before."
Read Full Report

4. School Dobs Mum to CYF for Hand Smack
Sunday Star Times 28 October 2007
A Wellington mother says her family has been left traumatised by new anti-smacking laws, after her son's school reported her to Child, Youth and Family for smacking him on the hand. "I don't want to feel like a child abuser, and I don't want to be labelled as a child abuser because I smacked my son," she said. "It's brought a lot of trauma to our family unit and unnecessary stress." The woman, who did not wish to be named because she says she fears losing her children, says another smacking several months later resulted in a visit from police and referral to a foster care agency – despite the police not charging her.
Read Full Report
Read Full Testimony of the Mother

5. Boy Calls 111 to Report Parents
East Auckland
Eastern Courier 3 August 2007
A boy called 111 after learning about the new child discipline regulations at school. The 11-year-old turned to police fearing he was assaulted by his parents, but it turned out that he was being disciplined. "He was engaging in offensive and obstructive behaviour and his parents intervened with reasonable force," Howick-Otara family violence coordinator sergeant Brett Woodmass says. "The boy said he had learnt about the law at school and I believe he was misinformed," he says.
Read Full Report

6. Mother Investigated After 4 Year Old Smacked For Running Out on Road
West Auckland
Jackie’s 4 year old ran across the road outside a busy supermarket when she saw a friend on other side of road. The mum smacked her on the bottom once to show her how dangerous her actions were. A member of the public challenged the way she had disciplined her child, took her vehicle registration, and the mum was visited by police two days later. She felt like a criminal and embarrassed by it all. She said “please don’t take my daughter” to the police. They did a police check to see if it had happened before. The Police (who had kids as well) told the mum they felt it was a waste of time. The daughter said “what’s wrong mummy,” and was upset by it all.

7. Supermarket tantrum earns stressed mum police warning 
South Auckland
Wanita’s 5-year old son (who is autistic) was having what his mum calls a “magic moment” in the supermarket. This included screaming, lying on the floor and waving his arms around. Mum had to leave the supermarket despite not completing her shopping, with the son crawling on the floor and screaming at her.
Once outside, Wanita attempted to deal with the behaviour quickly, as taught to her by the specialists who work with her son. She told him to get himself under control and started counting to 5. She also had to hold his arm as he was attempting to run out into the parking lot.
As all this was happening, a policeman approached her, asked if she was aware of the anti-smacking law, and informed her that he was giving her a warning. The mother said that she had not even smacked the child, and enquired whether he knew what it was like to have an autistic child. He said that he was simply doing his job. She replied that she was simply doing her job as a mother.

8. Eight year old’s Class Taught to Dob in Parents – Behaviour Deteriorates
Hawkes Bay
The police went to a local primary school and did a session on “Keeping Ourselves Safe.” During the session, the policeman told this particular class of 7 and 8 year olds that parents couldn’t smack them, and that if they did, they should immediately tell the teacher. This was not the only school in the area where this message was given.

Within the next few days, this solo mum’s 8 year old daughter who had been in this session and who had had a ‘clean’ record at school all year was stood down for kicking the teacher in the leg. She also kept telling her mother “you can’t make me do anything - you can’t smack me”, following the lesson. Her older child (10) also told the mother that “you can’t make me go to school.”

The mother went to the police to clarify what they had said and to tell them the difficulties she'd had since their visit to the school. The Sergeant was obliging and said he would sort it out by sending the officer involved to speak to the girls and reinstate her authority. An angry phone call from the officer followed to the mother, questioning whether she had a problem with the smacking law. Two days later 2 male officers arrived to supposedly reinstate the mother’s authority but instead they questioned her parenting skills and told her they had investigated her background with a variety of community organisations. They had her in tears and she found them intimidating and degrading. They also proceeded to tell the children their rights. Yet amazingly the police said to the mother the daughter deserved a smack after kicking the teacher. The mother in desperation at her treatment spoke to her local MP, & was then contacted by the District Commander of the Police who told her not to go complaining to the MP because he had better things to do.

The mother was traumatised by all this, and has laid a formal complaint with the Police but to no avail.

9. Passerby Reports Squealing Child
Tanya had two police officers arrive on her doorstep as she was hosting visitors on a Saturday night. The police informed her that a ‘passer by’ had heard a child being smacked and subsequently screaming. They could not tell the mum what day this occurred on, what time or who the person was. She explained to them that her 9 year old daughter squeals when she plays, particularly when outside on the trampoline with her brother. She likes to play hard with her 13 year old brother – and inevitably she sometimes gets hurts – and performs! The mum says the passer-by could have heard her children 'playing' – “do I have to stop them having fun??”

“We don't smack our kids (or if we have in the past, it has been minor) and this incident did not occur. I informed the officers accordingly. They insisted that they needed to see my daughter. I informed them that she was now with her father as we share custody. I gave them full contact details. They told me they would have to go around there to check she was OK.”   

“I have found the whole episode to be extremely distressing. I felt completely humiliated to literally be accused of child abuse and have now found it hard to sleep at night at it has upset me so much - how I look after and care for my children is being questioned. On hearsay I am now a guilty person. This new law is ending up with a lot of good innocent parents being wrongfully accused. This law needs to be changed.”

10. Grandmother Warned by Police After Grabbing Grandchild Running onto Road
South Auckland
This grandmother had to prevent her 2 year old grandson from running onto the road by grabbing his arm and pulling him back to the footpath. She was petrified that her grandson could be run over. A police officer witnessed her and said she was breaking the law by grabbing him. She was let off with a warning but was told that if it ever happened again, they would prosecute her. She had recently lost a friend’s child (6) to a train crash. (Takanini)

She now puts him in the pram to avoid getting arrested. Her family is horrified by what's happened and she's now concerned about taking her grandchildren out in public. She feels she's been publicly humiliated.

Another grandmother came up to her and said she'd been interviewed by the police for giving her 4 year old grandson a smack on the bottom in Countdown for swearing at her. The woman was taken to the police station to be interviewed.

11. They had no right to make dad look like a criminal – daughter (13)
North Island
"My name is Steven and I am 11, this is what happened – I was late home and my dad was angry with me because I was out on the street when it was dark, he smacked me a couple of times on my bum but it did not hurt, the next day I told my neighbours what had happened and they rung CYF. CYF came to my school and talked to me and also my brother and sister without my mum and dad knowing. When I got home after school we were told that we could not see our dad, my brother and sisters and I were hurt by this. I wish CYF never got involved they hurt my family. dad was allowed home again because we told them it wasn’t abuse. The police also said it wasn’t."

"I am Steven’s older sister and I am 13 years old. I think what CYF did was wrong. they told my mum that my dad couldn't see us for two weeks. they didn't interview me even though steven told them he had an older sister. if they had've interviewed me i would have been outraged because my dad is hard working and watches us play sports and takes us to music lessons. our family was in tears even my dad. they had no right to make my dad look like a criminal."

12. Teen to mum – "you can’t hit me but I can hit you"
South Auckland
Nickie is a mum who uses a smack perhaps once a year. But recently she was hit by her 16-yr old son when he didn’t want to obey her request. Nickie said to him “You can't hit me". His immediate response was "ah no& you can't hit me". She has four sons, and is very worried about the effect of this attitude on her other children. Her 3-year old has also started saying “you can’t hit me”. She feels like her only option is to ‘hand them over to government – we have no control any more’.

Even thought she doesn’t smack, she still signed the petition opposing the anti-smacking law as she wants to retain that option in exceptional circumstances, and opposes being told how to parent her own children.

13. Kids fighting in backseat of car earns mum a police investigation
North Island
Rebecca* (name changed to protect identity) was driving her parents’ car with her two young boys in the backseat. They were fighting and causing havoc, and causing a dangerous distraction to Rebecca. She turned to the back seat, pointed at each of the boys to get their attention, and told them to stop fighting and to sit quietly.

A passerby reported Rebecca to the police for allegedly smacking a child in the front seat! The police went to the grandparents’ house (the registered owner of the vehicle.) The grandparents were away, and after questioning a number of neighbours, eventually tracked down Rebecca. She wasn’t home, and they refused to discuss what they wanted with the husband. They did acknowledge to him how time-consuming the investigation was.

Rebecca and her husband are understandably upset by the malicious and inaccurate claims, the involvement of the police, and the suspicion and embarrassment caused by the interviewing of various neighbours.

14. One smack for one-hour tantrum - 10 year old calls 111
South Auckland

Joy has a special needs 10 year old boy who has muscular dystrophy and ADHD. One afternoon, he refused to do what his mum asked and stared swearing at her, threw a knife at her, and threatened to harm himself. Joy sent him to his bedroom but every time he came back out, the tantrums continued. This went on for an hour. Finally Joy gave him one smack on the bottom, which immediately brought him under control.

He then called 111 in his bedroom and within half an hour, the police were on Joy’s doorstep. The police realized that this was not child abuse and told the boy not to waste their time again. Joy wanted to make his son go down to the police station to apologise for his actions, but the officer in charge told Joy that that was not allowed and the boy had done the right thing!

When Joy realized that her son had rung the police, she was petrified. She was also panicking that they could take away her son.

The following night, her husband was playing with their son (playfighting) and Joy immediately worried in case it got a bit rough and something happened like her son falling off the bed and breaking his arm and the police would be on her door step asking questions! She says “I know that sounds extreme but it could happen, it has definitely made us cautious - pretty sad when you feel nervous about playing with your own kid.”

15. Father charged for "reasonable discipline" yet case dismissed when no evidence is offered
Glen Innes
NZ Herald 11 April 2008
A 30-year-old Glen Innes father was charged by police for allegedly hitting his five-year-old daughter with an open hand on the back of the head and swinging a pair of jeans at his six-year-old daughter. He had to spend a day in the police cells and police opposed bail! CYF also investigated the family yet found nothing to be concerned about. The complaint was made by a sister-in-law with whom there was believed to be animosity with because of her interference with the children.

When the matter eventually came to court, the police offered no evidence and the case was dismissed.

His lawyer said that the dad had pushed one of the girls to get her to hurry for school and threw the jeans at the other to get her attention. He said "When the whole issue was being discussed in Parliament and in public, they said that minor matters would not end up in court, it would only be the serious ones... the public were given assurances that the police would consider this law carefully, and in this case they have not."

16. Father charged and convicted for demanding respect towards mother 
North Island

June 2008
On the way to school, mum and dad were angry at their daughter (12) for not doing her chores that morning. Dad, who was driving, reached across to his daughter in the front passenger seat and shoved her on the upper arm 2-3 times to demand that she listen to her mother.
A driver in the vehicle behind claimed the father was punching the daughter and rang 111. Six police in three cars turned up at the daughter’s school. The police records show that the daughter didn’t feel any pain from the alleged ‘punching’. There was no bruising or marks of any kind. The police charged the father with assault. He was banned from living at home or seeing his daughter for two weeks. He pleaded guilty to assault simply to avoid the shame, stress, and costs of a defended hearing. His daughter (an A grade student at school) is simply pleased to have dad home. An MP who reviewed the case described it as ‘disturbing.’

17. Grandfather charged and convicted for tipping child out of chair to get a ‘move-on’
South Auckland
January 2008
A grandfather was charged and convicted of assaulting his grandson for tipping him out of a bean bag-type chair in order to 'get him moving'. He had refused to turn the tv volume down and then refused to turn the tv off when asked.

The grandchild rang 111. The grandmother and grandchild pleaded with the police not to take granddad away, yet he was held in prison cells for 2 nights, then bailed back home, despite police objections! His lawyer advised him to plead guilty to avoid cost and hassle.

18. Police interview step-father for 2 hours for restraining abusive daughter
Central North Island
In mid-2007, stepdaughter (12) was verbally and physically abusive to both her mother and step-father. The stepfather restrained her arms so she couldn't hit out any more. The mum was grateful for the protection. They were visited in January ’08 by the police because of a complaint made by the natural father - two months after the event. They were both taken down to the police station and stepdad was videoed interviewed for almost 2 hours.

When they asked the police "what else can we do if we can't restrain her" they were told "we don't know".

Despite numerous phone calls and visits to the police station to find out the result, they have been told nothing more. They are now afraid to restrain any of their kids – no matter what their behaviour. It is creating tension in the family and step-father is never sure if the next car up the driveway is the police coming to arrest him.

19. Dad banned for 6 months based on smacking claim by ex-wife
In 2008, Raymond was denied access to his two young children for 6 months by CYF when his ex-wife made a complaint that he had used ‘physical force on one or both children.’ No complaint was referred to the police, there was no witnesses and no evidence of bruising. The father actually believes that it was a warning of a smack that led to the complaint (Dad had warned his youngest child about running out onto the street).

It is believed that the smacking law was used by the ex-wife so that she could take the children overseas, in breach of the family court order. After six months and no evidence, Dad finally has access to his children again.

What a CYFS Community Panel Board Member says
"I was concerned about the passing of Sue Bradford’s parenting bill, fearing that there would be an increase in the number of investigations of 'good' parents unnecessarily through our CYFS social services. Sadly this concern is becoming a reality. Although I have only been involved with our community panel a year prior to the passing of Ms Bradford’s anti-parent legislation, yet I can say without a doubt, that in my time I have seen a small but a definite increase in 'good' parents being investigated by our CYFS case workers.

Any child who mentions to a school teacher that they have been smacked or touched in any physical way is brought under investigation and their names are indelibly logged onto our data base as a potential 'abuser'. I really feel sorry for these 'good parents' because of the fear that we as an organisation now engendering upon their parenting practise. Sadly good parents are being lumped in together with the really bad ones and the source of this injustice is the bad legislation that an idealist like Sue Bradford has put together."


And meanwhile, Police and CYF resources and time are diverted from
at-risk families and children that do need investigation and protection..

More cases to come....