Media Release 4 July 2017
Family First NZ says it is no surprise that the University of Auckland’s Growing up in New Zealand study has found that mothers – and parents in general – are still using smacking, and that research reveals that any forms of correction of children can be problematic, depending on the style of parenting.
A poll at the beginning of the year also found continued widespread rejection of the law and an admission that 2 out of 3 NZ’ers would flout the law if they believed it reasonable to correct the behaviour of their child.
“Despite having almost 10 years to prove the doubters wrong, the law has failed to convince anybody of its benefits or its effectiveness. In fact, the law has maintained its very high level of opposition, but most significantly, a high level of NZ’ers say they would flout the law despite the possible consequences. This proves the abject failure and rejection by ordinary NZ’ers of this highly controversial and flawed law. If it had any merit, it would have proved itself by now. Instead it has simply threatened and undermined good parents raising great kids,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
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 – and still rejected – by NZ’ers. 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,” says Mr McCoskrie.
In the independent poll of 846 people undertaken by Curia Market Research at the end of last year, only 23% of respondents believe a smack that is reasonable and for the purpose of correction should be a criminal offence – similar to levels in a 2014 poll.
A report at the beginning of last year analysing the 2007 anti-smacking law, “Defying Human Nature: An Analysis of New Zealand’s 2007 Anti-Smacking Law”, found 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 the law has negatively impacted law-abiding parents.
Family First NZ continues to call for the government to adopt the ‘Borrows amendment’ which allows non-abusive smacking and which the National party had previously lobbied and voted for.