Media Release 24 August 2012
Family First NZ says that the latest review of police activity related to the anti-smacking law shows disturbing trends.
“The latest sales pitch on the smacking law by police will be cold comfort to parents. Almost 550 kiwi families have had a police investigation for allegations of smacking or minor acts of physical discipline since the anti-smacking law was passed yet only 8% of them have been serious enough to warrant charges being laid,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. “A law is obviously a ‘dog’s breakfast’ when there is such a high rate (92%) of cases warranting no further action by the police.”
“Ironically, the police have finally figured out what they mean by ‘smacking’ and ‘minor acts of physical discipline’ – something the politicians and CYF have been unable to do. And parents will be surprised by the types of actions which the police are taking to court – despite the guarantees of the Prime Minister.”
“Of most concern is that the report refers to an upward trend in smacking cases, and ‘more widespread use of the legislation’ by the police. Does this mean that the honeymoon period is over for parents, and that the real effects of the law are taking effect – despite the promises?” asks Mr McCoskrie. “We know that this is already the case with CYF with a zero tolerance policy for smacking.”
“The other huge concern is the big increase in false allegations of assault. This may come from neighbours or even the children themselves. Unfortunately, this confusing law has been used as a weapon against good parents – rather than targeting rotten parents who are abusing their kids.”
“It seems incredible that we are wasting time investigating hundreds of families who obviously don’t warrant that investigation, are putting those families through the stress of a potentially prolonged investigation, and are diverting valuable police resources from serious crime and rotten parents where actual abuse is happening,”
“Parents have been stripped of a parenting technique which, when used appropriately, has been proven to be effective and appropriate. And tragically, our child abuse death rate continues unabated,” says Mr McCoskrie.
“The report also fails to quantify the high level of intervention into good families from CYF which even CYF is unable to verify.”
Family First continues to call for an amendment to the anti-smacking law to clearly define what is reasonable physical correction, to decriminalise non-abusive smacking, and to then target our vital police resources at rotten parents who are abusing their kids.