A report last year analysing the 2007 anti-smacking law concluded that there was not a single social indicator relating to the abuse of children that had shown significant or sustained improvement since the passing of the law and that they’ve continued to get worse – in some cases a lot worse – and that the law has negatively impacted law-abiding parents. The fact that so many social indicators around the welfare of children continue to worsen proves that we simply are not tackling the real causes of child abuse. It also proves that the law has been completely ineffective in terms of tackling the problem it was supposed to confront. There is also evidence that the law is doing more harm than good. An analysis of the law in 2014 by Public Law Specialists Chen Palmer said that statements made by politicians to the effect that the new Section 59 does not criminalise ‘good parents’ for lightly smacking their children appear to be inconsistent with the legal effect of Section 59 and the cases they analysed. New Zealanders predicted all of this before the law was passed, but their concerns were ignored. The politicians and anti-smacking lobby groups linked good parents who smacked their children with child abusers – a notion roundly rejected by Kiwis. The anti-smacking law assumes that previous generations disciplined their children in a manner that was so harmful that they should now be considered criminals. Family First NZ continues to call for the government to amend the law to allow non-abusive smacking (which the National party had previously lobbied and voted for).
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