Celebs go toe-to-toe on smacks

NZ Herald 21 July 09

(Simon Barnett and Robyn Malcolm) have lined up as rival celebrities for the “No” and “Yes” votes in next month’s referendum on the question, “Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?” On the Vote No website, Barnett fronts a video saying, “Kiwi parents know the difference between a light smack and child abuse.” But at the Auckland Town Hall yesterday, Malcolm filmed a statement of support for the “anti-smacking” law with former TV One newsreader Judy Bailey, Kidzone host Kayne Peters, author Brian Edwards and others. “I’m supporting this because I believe that any type of violence towards children is completely unacceptable,” she said.

Barnett has smacked his four daughters “on the odd occasion” and resents being labelled a child abuser. He and wife Jodi decided early on to use a smack “as a consequence for certain behaviour” until each child turned 10. “My wife and I would always say, ‘I’m going to count to three, and if Dad gets to three then there’s a consequence’,” Barnett said. “It might not be a smack. It might be timeout. It might be missing out on the $1 bag of lollies that we get for each of them when we watch a family movie on TV on Saturday night.” But it was a smack, for example, when one daughter aged 6 ran across the road when a car was coming. “But I didn’t smack her in anger,” Barnett said. “I told her, ‘We’ve told you so many times not to cross the road by yourself,’ and I smacked her on the hand. She’s never done it again.”