Media Release 11 February 2016
A report analysing the 2007 anti-smacking law has concluded that there is not a single social indicator relating to the abuse of children that has shown significant or sustained improvement since the passing of the law and that they’ve continued to get worse – in some cases a lot worse, that CYF has reached the point of ‘saturation’ and can no longer handle the level of notifications it is receiving, and that the law has negatively impacted law-abiding parents.
The report “Defying Human Nature: An Analysis of New Zealand’s 2007 Anti-Smacking Law” examines the social indicators relating to child abuse affecting our children and families in the years leading up to the ban on smacking and then since the law was passed, and asks: Has there been any improvement? Have the warnings about the anti-smacking law targeting the wrong parents been proved right? And is it time for politicians to respond to the concerns of law-abiding parents?
Police stats show there has been a 136% increase in physical abuse, 43% increase in sexual abuse, 45% increase in neglect or ill-treatment of children, and 71 child abuse deaths since the law was passed. CYF have had more than 1 million notifications of abuse and there has been a 42% increase in physical abuse found since 2007. And health data reveals a 132% increase in children diagnosed with emotional and/or behavioural problems and a 71% increase in children hospitalised with mental and behavioural disorders since 2007.
“The research results are disturbing, but not surprising. The fact that so many social indicators around the welfare of children continue to worsen proves that we simply are not tackling the real causes of child abuse. It also proves that the law has been completely ineffective in terms of tackling the problem it was supposed to confront. There is also evidence that the law is doing more harm than good,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ, and author of the report.
“New Zealanders predicted all of this before the law was passed, but their concerns were ignored. The politicians and anti-smacking lobby groups linked good parents who smacked their children with child abusers – a notion roundly rejected by Kiwis. John Key was right – linking light smacking with child abuse was ‘bloody insulting’. The anti-smacking law assumes that previous generations disciplined their children in a manner that was so harmful that they would now be considered criminals.”
The report calls on the government to adopt the ‘Borrows amendment’ which the National party had previously voted for, and has identified the real solutions to tackling child abuse.