Anna Leask

Anna Leask is a police reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Poll: People want smacking law changed

Judith Collins said there were no plans to review the law. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Judith Collins said there were no plans to review the law. Photo / Mark Mitchell

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'."

The poll

Should the current law be amended to specifically state that "parents who give their children a smack that is reasonable and for the purpose of correction are not breaking the law"?
77 per cent Yes
18 per cent No
5 per cent Unsure/refuse to answer

Has the anti-smacking law had had any effect on the rate of child abuse?
77 per cent No
12 per cent Yes
11 per cent Unsure/refuse to answer

Would you still smack your child to correct behaviour if you thought it was reasonable, despite the current law?
68 per cent Yes
27 per cent No
6 per cent Unsure/refuse to answer

Source: Curia Market Research

- NZ Herald

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