By RUTH BERRY, political reporter

Helen Clark remains concerned that a parent can legally attack a child with a hosepipe but she says the Government will not review the law until its three-year "positive parenting" campaign ends.

Social Services Minister Steve Maharey last week unveiled the Government's $10 million anti-smacking campaign to a chorus of criticism from children's rights advocates.

They were dismayed to discover there was no reference to physical punishment in the material and accused the Government of watering it down to avoid controversy.

Concern the public was divided about the issue and mixed views within the Government had earlier forced Mr Maharey to abandon plans to repeal section 59 of the Crimes Act.

The act allows adults to hit children in a way that would be illegal if they hit each other.

Green MP Sue Bradford yesterday asked the Prime Minister in Parliament whether she continued to oppose the law.

She also asked Helen Clark if she believed "that a campaign to stop parents hitting their children can actually achieve that aim, if the campaign is so soft and insipid that it never uses the word smacking or anything like it?"

Helen Clark said Mr Maharey had "acted responsibly in getting up a campaign on positive parenting that has been well consulted on with community groups".

"I understand that research shows that the most effective parenting uses love, nurturing and strong boundaries, and that is the focus of this campaign."

She remained concerned that people had been acquitted in the past two to three years "after taking a belt to children in a rather violent way, attacking children with a hosepipe ... "

But the Government would wait until the campaign had finished.

Herald Feature: Child Abuse

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