Family First NZ says that the Human Rights Commission has acknowledged the uncertainty of the anti-smacking law.
In response to a formal complaint by Family First NZ that the anti-smacking law is vague and uncertain, the Human Rights Commission has acknowledged the potential uncertainty of the law but is not convinced that the earlier version of section 59 ‘provided any better guidance than the present legislation’.
“This is despite agreeing with Family First that ‘individuals must be able to regulate their conduct with a reasonable degree of certainty as to the legal consequences of acting one way rather than another’, says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. “They still prefer the amendment due mainly to its adherence to UN requirements.”
“Recent research by Curia Marketing Research found widespread confusion about the effect of the law. 55% of the respondents said that smacking was always illegal, 31% said it wasn’t, and 14% didn’t know. A recent Families Commission report showed that immigrant families are confused by the anti-smacking law and see smacking as a viable option for correcting their children.”
The Commission argues that parents who disagree with any prosecution can judicially review the police for a decision to prosecute.
“But most parents would be completely unaware of this option, and would be skeptical that it was likely to offer any solution.”
Parents have been given conflicting messages by the promoters of the law. Legal opinions have contradicted each other, and on top of that there is ‘police discretion’ but not CYF discretion to investigate. Parents have a right to a clear and precise law. This current law has created confusion. Good parents are being victimised and the real causes of child abuse ignored,” says Mr McCoskrie.
“Parenting is not for cowards but this law is making it pretty scary.”