19 Sep 2013

American Samoa Senate approves anti-child abuse act

10:54 am on 19 September 2013

The American Samoa Senate has today approved in a third and final reading for an administration bill which further criminalizes the act of child abuse.

The Senate bill now goes to the House of Representatives for review. The House also has its own version of the bill pending in committee for amendments to be made soon.

Senate approval of the bill came after senators were pleased with what they called a clear explanation from the Deputy Attorney General Mitzie Jessop that the measure does not take away a parent's right to discipline their children, as long as such discipline doesn't turn into the abuse of a child.

Two weeks ago, when the Senate reviewed the measure, some senators were concerned the law would take away a parent's right to discipline their children.

During a committee hearing on Wednesday, Miss Jessop told senators that Samoans disciplining their children is an important part of the Samoan culture to teach their children right and wrong.

She says the bill targets cases - such as those that have reached the attorney general's office - where parents have abused their children, by tying their children up and beating them with a piece of lumber.