It was important children and young people' />

Any debate over child discipline should include those most affected, the Children's Commissioner says.

It was important children and young people were heard in the debate on the anti-smacking law, commissioner John Angus said yesterday.

His comments come as New Zealanders are asked to vote in a citizens' initiated referendum.

The postal voting form asks: "Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?"

The ballot closes on August 21.

Dr Angus said he had asked the Young People's Reference Group a series of questions about the child discipline law and while they supported the law change, they said that information about it had been lacking.

The group is made up of young people who provide advice to the Office of the Children's Commissioner on relevant issues.

One of the members, William, 16, said the law change removed ambiguity in the seriousness of offences.

"Parents now don't need to question how much force they are using and can't use the law as justification for more serious abuse," he said.

The group said many young people might not know what to do if they were being smacked, Dr Angus said.

"If parents hit their kids, it's not like their kids are going to tell the police as the parents are in control," said 16-year-old Anaru.

Dr Angus said the children's comments were consistent with evidence that what children remembered was someone who was supposed to love them inflicting pain on them rather than making a link with particular behaviour.

"Maybe it's time we listened to our youngest citizens.".