They give four examples of how the law is being enforced in a manner that has criminalised some parents. I see they have stopped using the example of the
Now to my mind criminalised means treat as a criminal; find someone guilty in a court of law and sentence them for the crime (warning, diversion, community service, prison sentence, home detention, reparations, that kind of thing) in a manner designed to dissuade others, punish the guilty party, rehabilitate the offender and hopefully deliver some justice to the victim.
In the examples Family First were any of the parents found guilty of a crime and then sentenced?
- Investigations were undertaken and no charges laid.
- The parent was charged and then chose to plead guilty. The sentence is not mentioned.
- Charged, convicted (does not say whether he plead guilty or not) and discharged without penalty (which I assume means a s19 discharge, ie no conviction on his record either?)
- Charged, police offered no evidence, case dismissed when it got to court.
That leaves us with example 3. Without knowing more about the facts, in particular whether the parent plead guilty or not, it's pretty hard to say much about whether this person was really "criminalised" or not, but a discharge without penalty is what some in Family First would dismiss as a slap on the wrist with a wet bus ticket in other circumstances.
These examples are not presented in a strictly factual manner, but are coloured by the cause that Family First uses them for, i.e. to reinstate the defence s59 previously gave parents who hit their children. These four cases still don't show the law is criminalising good parents, despite all the wordsmithing of the Family Firsters.
There are many many people who believe physical punishment of children is not necessary. Family First are trying to create the impression that the law isn't working and that all those child advocacy agencies that continue to support the changes to s59 are wrong. If these four examples are the best Family First can come up with then they've got a long way to go to make their case.
* John Key. I still can't get used to this.