7 Jun 2012

Efficacy of ban on abusive men questioned

5:24 pm on 7 June 2012

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett says the Government could go further than stopping abusive parents from having more babies, by banning abusive men from living or working with children.

Ms Bennett says the proposal is being discussed as part of the Government's white paper on vulnerable children that is still being developed.

Cabinet is also considering allowing judges to direct parents convicted for the murder of a child, or serious child abuse, not to have any more children, and if they do, they will be removed at birth.

Ms Bennett told Nine to Noon she is considering the proposals as part of the Government's obligation to stand up for children who have been hideously abused.

She says the proposals are still in the discussion stage.

Minister's idea adds little - doctor

But Auckland Hospital paediatrician Simon Rowley says Ms Bennett's latest proposal to curb child abuse will not be any more effective than the systems which are already in place.

Dr Rowley says abusive men are already stopped from being around children, as mothers are told they must not have the man around or their child will be taken away.

Auckland Council for Civil Liberties president Barry Wilson says the minister is essentially singling out people deemed to be undesirable and saying they should not have children.

Taking children away from their parents would do nothing to address the root causes of violent offending, he says.

And the Law Society says the Government's idea of banning abusive men from living or working with children is practically impossible.

Chair of the society's family law section Garry Collin says there is nothing in the family law provisions that would enable courts to give what could effectively be life-long parole conditions.

Among reactions from politicians, United Future and the Maori Party have concerns about proposals to give courts the power to order some people not to have children.

Ms Bennett said on Wednesday the Government is looking at enabling courts to direct parents who have abused or killed a child not to have children, or they will be removed at birth.

United Future leader Peter Dunne says it is difficult to see a situation where such heavy-handed intervention would be necessary.

Maori Party MP Te Ururoa Flavell says the proposals don't sit well with him.

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei says the Government will struggle to get support.

Former Green MP Sue Bradford told Morning Report the state should not interfere with a woman's right to have children.

She said the state already has the power to remove children from danger.

Other comment

Prime Minister John Key says Cabinet has never discussed the potential for child abusers to be sterilised, an idea he would not personally support.

Family First national director Bob McCoskrie told Morning Report he supports the idea as dysfunctional parents should not have reproductive rights.

He said the Government has to act in the best interests of children.