Poll: People want smacking law changed

NZ Herald 18 March 2013
Three out of four people back a law change to allow “correctional” smacking of children, a poll has found. But a child advocacy group says correctional smacking remains unacceptable.

The poll of 1000 randomly selected people was undertaken by Curia Market Research for advocacy group Family First.

Respondents were asked whether the anti-smacking law should be changed to state that “parents who give their children a smack that is reasonable and for the purpose of correction are not breaking the law”.

Of those asked, 77 per cent said yes, the law should be changed. Asked whether they thought the anti-smacking law had had any effect on child abuse, 77 per cent of respondents answered no.

They were also asked whether they would still smack their child to correct behaviour, despite the law.

Two out of three respondents, or 68 per cent, said they would.

“Politicians probably hoped that the opposition to the anti-smacking law would eventually disappear, but this poll simply reiterates that the law is being disrespected and flouted, and is seen of no real value,” said Family First national director Bob McCoskrie.

A spokeswoman for Justice Minister Judith Collins said there were no plans to review the law “as the justice sector is focused on other priorities”.

Anthea Simcock, chief executive for advocacy group Child Matters, did not want to see the law changed.

“The current act makes it quite clear that hitting children as a correctional action is not acceptable and that people cannot hurt a child and then claim as a defence that they were using ‘reasonable force’.”
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