Smacking a dead horse

Family First and Colin Craig continue to try and rehash the smacking laws but are the trying to flog a dead horse? Is the law passed over five years ago really a priority for families?

Or is it more of an obsession with an ideological group and an ambitious politician?

Both sides of the smacking debate will probably always make opposing claims from any news.

Fewer parents being investigated despite ‘anti-smacking law’

Supporters of the controversial “anti-smacking” law are claiming victory after a dramatic fall in the number of parents being investigated for hitting their children.

But opponents of the 2007 law change have accused the Government of fudging the numbers.

Ministry of Social Development data shows fewer parents are being investigated for smacking their children. The number dropped by almost third over the past financial year, with 176 parents dobbed in to the MSD, down from 277 the year before.

Police say they have prosecuted just eight parents for smacking children in the five years since the law came in. Seven of those parents had smacked their child in the head or face.

The eighth parent was discharged without conviction for striking the child on the hand. Police said they were also being called to fewer smacking incidents though they stopped counting smacking prosecutions after the Government’s five-year review process came to an end.

Key, who personally voted for the legislation, has consistently refused to entertain a law change, even after a referendum on the issue found 87 per cent of those who voted did not believe smacking should be a criminal offence.

While it’s difficult to measure actual effects it seems like the law has nor made a significant difference, not many prosecutions, many still unhappy and the campaigners continue.

Family First plans to campaign strongly on the issue during the election buildup. “It’s a big issue because it was a law that came into every family home. Politicians want it to simmer down and go away, but it’s not,” McCroskie said, adding figures on falling smacking notifications are “fudged . . . It doesn’t identify cases where parents are being ransomed by their own kids.”

Changing voting based on one relatively minor issue that’s already been thrashed with little change is unlikely.

Surely there’s far more pressing issues for families than the smacking laws.

The economy and who can best manage it is likely to remain the single biggest election issue, along with the associated personalities.

If Colin Craig makes smacking his bottom line as he has indicated he may swing the election away from the centre right, which would be ironic as economically he’s more left.

Leave a comment


  1. Brown

     /  12th January 2014

    Discharged without conviction for smacking a child on the hand? How did that ever get to court? How much resource was wasted? Raping underage girls doesn’t get to court, Neither, it seems, does plying your kids with alcohol.

    This legislation remains an abuse of state power and needs to go so Good parents are not over it.

  2. Excellent point, Brown.

    Surely there’s far more pressing issues for families than the smacking laws.

    That’s entirely dependent on the situation. For those that are interrogated, and perhaps taken to court, over something innocuous, then the issue is very pertinent.

    Also, for the Progressive, they are content to win incremental change over incremental change, and then protest loudly should the discussion return to rolling it back, even incrementally. Perhaps that is the only way to fight the progressive mentality – ban abortion on demand after 16 weeks, then 15, then 14, then 13. We’d see the same arguments from the Progressives on smacking. Then the fundamentals come out, because the framing has been done in reverse. The smacking debate conflated reasonable, appropriate and mild physical discipline with child abuse. It’s that baseline mentality that the Conservatives continue to rail against, because they see the inherent danger of State power and unwillingness to entertain another valid view point in enforcing that view.


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