Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Riding crop case not just about section 59

Sir Humphreys blogger Zen Tiger has done a post on the riding crop case, where a parent was acquitted of assault after disciplining her child. He focuses on the outcome of this child being taken away from his parents. He implies that because the woman concerned was acquitted of assault, CYFS should return the child to her as she has not committed a criminal offence.

This boy was not removed from his parents pending a court case, even though CYFS told his parents that he would be returned if his mother was acquitted of assault.CYFS gave the big middle finger to the courts.

CYFS takes children away with no investigation whatsoever, based on its warped perception of what the "best interests of the child" is, even if the child's parent has later been acquitted in court of a criminal offence. Even if the case had NOT gone to court, this kid will still be attending boarding school paid for by the taxpayer. He will still have been given anti-psychotic drugs without his parents consent to control his behaviour. He would have still been verbally abused by his caregiver. And he would still want to go back home to his mum.

CYFS social workers believe that the "best interests of the child" has no bearing on whether the woman committed a criminal offence, because they maintain all smacking is a criminal offence. Consequently if any parent smacks her kid CYFS thinks it is in the childs best interest to be taken from his parents, and tries to use the courts to back their decision.This time it didnt work in terms of a conviction, but that didnt stop state-sanctioned kidnapping. THAT is the issue, and it is so wrong.

Child, Youth and Family is guilty of breaching the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child (UNCROC), and a letter is to be sent to the Children's Commissioner Cindy Kiro under 12(1)(a) and 13(1)(a) of the Childrens Commissioner Act 2003 asking her to investigate the breaches and other irregularities. Apparently she has no discretion whether to conduct an investigation when she receives a request from another person or body.

Article 25 of UNCROC states that all children have to have a periodic review of their placement, including its location. This child has not, and no date is impending. As the sole legal guardian, this child's mother currently has no say as to where her child attends school, and, as mentioned, was not consulted when her child was given anti-psychotic drugs.

Either Kiro or CYFS Minister Ruth Dyson needs to explain why this boy was initially questioned by CYFS without his parents knowledge or consent, nor did he have the right to adult support, which is in breach of the Child, Youth and Family Act. Kiro needs ot explain why CYFS are not taking the wishes of the child into account, ( he wants to go back home to his mum), and why CYFS is telling the boy's mum that she was breaking the law by smacking her child.

It is not the intention of the United Nations Committee of the Rights of the Child that a child's parents should have a criminal conviction for disiplining their children. So why did CYFS push for a prosecution if it is so concerned with the best interests principle?

Because it is the intention of CYFS - and Kiro - that ALL parents who smack children should be taken to court with no legal defence as a back up, and CYFS will make damn sure that more parents face criminal charges for smacking their kids if Section 59 of the Crimes Act goes.

CYFS has broken the law. Why isn`t anyone - particularly the Minister - holding it to account.


ZenTiger said...

Great post.

BTW, I may have given that impression, but I was also trying to make the point that one cannot rely on a court outcome to over-ride whatever CYFS decide to do.

As you say, they are a law unto themselves, and an expectation of winning a court case with the implied vindicaiton that a person is not guilty, still resulted in CYFS deciding to punish the parents and child.

bb said...

right on Dave!! CYF are a law unto themselves and seemingly not answerable to anyone!

Scotty said...

So how do we help this woman get her child back!?

peasant said...

Dave please read this response from the CEO of CYFS: CYFS defends its stand in Timaru ‘horsewhip’ case. A different perspective at last...

Dave said...

It might be a "diferent perspective" but you have to wonder where Peter Hughes got his information from. Nobody in the Challenge Weekly, or Peter Hughes for that matter, have spoken to the parent or the child.

Response by Mother at centre of Timaru “Horse Whip” case

Peter Hughes has made some completely scurrilous and defamatory comments in his response to Garth George’s article (NZ Herald 22 June 2006).

CYF Claim:
The woman in question had several convictions, including violence, which were considered relevant.
Mr Hughes attempts to place a slur on my integrity by mentioning convictions. My historical convictions were never considered a factor when I had the care of three different children who were CYF clients. Neither were my convictions a barrier to me being asked to supervise access by CYF of fourth child.

My convictions were for actions against my ex-husband in response to extreme and horrific domestic abuse where my children and I were at risk. I was convicted but received a suspended sentence. My ex husband went to prison for treating myself and my children in the way described by my eldest son. We were granted Full Protection Orders against my ex husband.

My convictions had no relevance to the way I parented my children.

The department only made a big deal out of these historical convictions AFTER they had taken my son into care, and they certainly were not a factor in their initial investigations.

CYF Claim:
The woman's eldest son told Radio Live: "I've been kicked, I've been punched, I've been thrown to the floor. At times I felt like a punching bag being attacked in rages."
This is how my ex husband treated us. My eldest son blames me for my ex husbands actions. This is not the way I ever treated my children.

CYF Claim:
Her son was taken into care after we were given photographs of welts and bruises on his legs, and she admitted hitting him regularly with a riding crop.
No photos of welts or bruises were presented in court, no evidence was given of such, and I have NEVER put welts or bruises on my son’s legs. Neither have I EVER said I disciplined him regularly with a riding crop and neither have I disciplined him regularly with a riding crop. My son also strongly denies I have ever put marks of this nature on his legs and denies he was regularly disciplined with a riding crop.

If there had been evidence of injuries, then surely it would have been presented by the police when I went to court. No such evidence was presented.

CYF Claim:
The boy had been taken into protective care before, after being admitted to hospital at the age of three months with multiple leg fractures.
Mr Hughes talks of my sons early childhood medical condition as a reason for CYF present actions. My son had a transient form of brittle bone disease which affected him in the first 18 months of his life, which affected the collagen structure in his bones. With brittle bone disease, fractures occur with NORMAL handling of a child. When this was discovered to be the cause of his injuries he was returned to my care.

It is of note that until this disease was discovered as the cause of my son’s injuries, CYF held my boyfriend at that time accountable - not myself. CYF action at the time was standard procedure in a case as such. It was very hard on the whole family at the time. No parent has control over a medical condition of this nature.

This case was closed by CYF at the time and withdrawn without prejudice. For Mr Hughes to site this as a reason to hold my son now and even try and relate it to the present situation is untenable. There is no correlation here at all. CYF were clearly happy for my son to be in my care for the next 11 years.

CYF Claim:
The police decided to press charges of assault (and not, as Mr. George claims, under pressure from us…)
The family court made a decision based on the gross inaccuracies and lies in the social workers affidavit. The social worker admitted to lying in his affidavit under cross examination. This case was taken to the police by CYF, who made regular contact with the police over the next few months to see "where things were at". If this was not pressure then what is? Mr Hughes clearly concedes that the boy had NOT been hurt when they removed him. Why then was he removed?
Why, when the court has ruled that the discipline administered was reasonable, do the department continue to hold my son? A family court judge is strongly guided by CYF recommendations, the burden of proof standard for the criminal court does not apply in the family court, so children can be, and are, taken on the social workers say so alone.

CYF Claim:
CYF social workers did not put the boy on the drug Risperdal; he was prescribed it while in the care of a family member, after a request by his school.
The boy was placed on Risperdal whilst in CYF custody. Although the caregiver was my mother, she was under instruction to administer the drug. It was part of the CYF Care and Protection plan submitted to the Family Court when they took custody of my son.

The boy had NEVER needed medication for the twelve years he was in his mothers care. Whilst he had some behavioural difficulties he had never been stood down or suspended from school, as he was when in CYF care. This boy was appropriately disciplined by me, (agreed by the Jury) and his behaviour improved for the better. The boy was placed on Risperdal whilst in CYF care and was subsequently suspended from school. Which scenario shows what is truly best for my son?

My son has been prohibited from being with his family who love him. CYF deem him to be safe at home in the holidays but not at other times. The damage CYF have done to my son psychologically and medically far outweigh the discipline he received.

I stepped up as a parent and took responsibility for correcting bad behaviour exhibited by my son in concern for his future wellbeing. My punishment for my responsible behaviour was to have the state remove him. CYF can and will do this to many more families. They have NO ongoing reason, other than political ones, to hold my son to ransom.

The court has ruled this WAS NOT ABUSE. Therefore CYF are acting ABOVE the law. I have given the family court an undertaking not to discipline my son with a riding crop or cane, so the departments "concerns" are moot.

This whole article only shows how far the department will go to twist the truth to legally kidnap a child. Who loses out at the end of the day? The biggest loss is to my son. My son was neither abused nor neglected, and CYF would do well to focus on families where this has occurred, rather than tearing apart one where it has not, at the expense of the child.

Ms Kiro clearly does not speak to many New Zealanders as polls consistently show that over 80 percent of us believe we should be able to reasonably discipline our children. Ms Kiro and others who support her do not constitute a majority at all.

What is this country coming to when departments like CYF and the Children’s Commissioner can over ride a court decision, and declare abuse has happened when the court has ruled it has not?