Police ‘Sales Pitch’ on Smacking No Comfort for Parents

Media Release 21 April 2013
Family First NZ says that the latest review of police activity related to the anti-smacking law continues to show disturbing trends, and is rubbishing police claims that ‘good parents’ are not being criminalised, labeling the claim as simply part of an ongoing sales pitch.

“The latest review – 11 in total now – on the anti-smacking law by police will be cold comfort to parents. Almost 600 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 9% 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 (90%-plus) of cases warranting no further action by the police. Yet for these ‘good parents’, the experience will have been hell.”

“Parents will also be surprised by the types of actions which the police are taking to court – despite the guarantees of the Prime Minister that a smack is ok.”

“The Assistant Commissioner Malcolm Burgess claims that police responses have been consistent over time – yet the previous report admits that there has been 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?”

“We know that this is already the case with CYF with a zero tolerance policy for smacking. The report fails to quantify the high level of intervention from CYF which even CYF is unable to verify.”

“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.”

“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.

A study just published from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, and published in the journal Parenting: Science and Practice, found the effects of discipline – such as verbal threats or smacking – are offset by the child’s feeling of being loved. The researchers said being punished is unlikely to result in antisocial behaviour further down the line, as long as the child believes their punishment is coming from “a good place”.

A recent survey of 1,000 NZ’ers found that three out of four people back a law change to allow “correctional” smacking of children. 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.
ENDS