Parliament has passed legislation creating a new offence for failing to protect a child from the risk of death, harm or sexual assault.
Failing to take reasonable steps to protect a child will now carry a maximum penalty of 10 years' imprisonment.
A person over the age of 18 could be found liable if they have frequent contact with the victim.
This includes people who don't actually live in the same household, and staff members at hospitals or other institutions where a victim lives.
The new law also changes the claim of right defence so it only applies to personal property.
The defence was successfully used by the protestors who attacked the Waihopai spy base in 2008, who argued they had a genuine belief their actions were lawful.