Smacking Study Proves Resources Need to be Targeted at At-Risk Group

Family First says that a study published in the latest NZ Medical Journal backs up the need for targeted support and resourcing of at-risk parents – especially young parents.

“The Christchurch Health and Development study, albeit a low survey group (n=155) and targeting only parents aged 25 years, shows that 77% of these parents are not abusing their children when using appropriate and reasonable physical punishment,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. “This % is consistent with the total number of parents in NZ who are using physical punishment in a reasonable and effective way.”

“However, as the study highlights, the targeted group is an at-risk group in terms of child abuse. This is backed up by recent UNICEF and CYF reports. The UNICEF report released earlier this year said “the likelihood of a child being injured or killed is associated with poverty, single-parenthood, low maternal education, low maternal age at birth, poor housing, weak family ties, and parental drug or alcohol abuse.”

“This study reinforces the need for better support and resources being targeted at this young parent group – 12% of who admitted “having severely physically assaulted a child in the past year”. We must better resource and support frontline organisations like Plunket and other local community organisations working with at-risk families, provide midwives and appropriate postnatal care (especially to first-time and teen mothers), and strengthen struggling families with appropriate counseling and relationship support – without criminalising the huge majority of parents who are not abusing their children but are simply using what works.”

“This study does not establish that smacking should be banned,” says Mr McCoskrie. ““The smacking ban is unwarranted, is confusing to parents, is targeting good and non-abusive parents with malicious and unwarranted complaints, has distracted police and CYF resources from at-risk families, and has done nothing to stem the flow of our unacceptable child abuse rates.”

“The law change has failed to target drug and alcohol fuelled abuse or domestic violence, family breakdown or dysfunction, teenage parenting needs, and poverty and stress issues.”

“This study highlights that exact point. As they say, It’s not the drinking – it’s the way we’re drinking. It’s not the smacking – it’s the way some parents smack.”

Family First continues to support Chester Borrow’s amendment to section 59 that was rejected by most politicians during the anti-smacking debate. ENDS