“Smacking not an offence”

I was interested to read the recent (July 10) NZ Police review relating to the operation of the 2007 amendment of the Crimes Act (see 4th review of police activity since enactment of the Crimes (substituted section 59) Amendment Act 2007). It really does show that this current referendum is a pointless farce. Some conclusions form the report:

1: “Smacking” in itself is not an offence. The report had to consider offence codes which weren’t “smacking” but most likely to include “smacking” type incidents.

2:The legislation has had “minimal impact on police activity.”

3: During the review period “police attended 279 child assault events, 39 involved ‘minor acts of physical discipline’ and 8 involved smacking.”

4: There has been a decrease in ‘smacking events’ and ‘minor acts of physical discipline.’

5: There has been an increase (36) of ‘other child assault’ events. (We should be concerned about these).

6: “No prosecutions were made for ‘smacking’ events during this period.”

No wonder polls indicate that most people think this referendum is a waste of time and money. Quite rightly, the government will ignore the result – except possibly making changes to the Citizens Initiated Referenda legislation to prevent future waste of money.

The whole area of normal child upbringing methods has always been an issue of contention and debate. It always will be. The state should not intervene or express an attitude unless children are being harmed, or are in danger of being harmed. Psychologically or physically.

Currently, this referendum seem to be supported mostly by those with a fundamentalist and/or conservative religious agenda.

Thanks to The Standard for the link to the report (see Section 59 and child abuse).


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16 responses to ““Smacking not an offence”

  1. Pingback: More analysis of the Police statistics | The Yes Vote - NZ Referendum on Child Discipline 2009

  2. No prosecutions for smacking?
    Family First report 1 for smacking and 12 for minor acts of physical discipline.
    Link to small PDF on http://tinyurl.com/nyxpm6


  3. So you, of course, will believe a conservative Christian group with a political agenda to the people who actually have the data – the NZ Police?

    Read the report, Ross. As the police report says “smacking” in itself is not an offence. They therefore provide data for offences which include elements like ‘smacking’ and/or ‘minor acts of physical discipline’.

    Politically/religiously motivated people with ideological agendas are well known for playing with statistics.

    But what a lot of effort for such a miserable result?


  4. Ken, “smacking” in itself is not an offence in the same way that deliberately poking someone with an umbrella in itself is not an offence, and slapping someones face in itself is not an offence, these are however all forms of assault, which is an offence.

    Your comments beg the question as to whether you were being deliberately misleading or were yourself misled.

    Also note that there has been a significant rise in the investigation of parents for smacking and minor disciplinary events, if you are ever subject to this police scrutiny I doubt you would see it as minor. The police investigating parents and questioning children over a smack, I find the idea distasteful and is probably very disruptive for a family.


  5. I agree that the survey/referendum is pointless. It skirts around what the bill was made for (blocking a loophole that child molesters, etc., could use to evade punishment) and is very poorly worded, or rather worded in a way that is irrelevant and misleading. It includes “good parenting”, which immediately begs for a definition and raises “by whose standards”. The bill isn’t even targeted at “good parents”, so with respect to good parents, the question is—literally—irrelevant. It would be inflammatory, if people didn’t see it for the obviously misleading thing that it is.

    The one good thing that does come out of it to my mind is that it shows that the population at large aren’t that thick!


  6. There have been numerous calls for those critical of the wording to suggest alternatives. Few suggestions offered, in my opinion have merit.
    With the power of hindsight about the best I can come up with is something like: “Should a smack by a parent of a child for the purposes of correction be an act of criminal assault in New Zealand?”.

    But that does make it far more wordy, and as I said I’ve got the advantage of hindsight (and was the referendum question drafted before the wording of the law was finalised?)

    Also it should be noted that there was opportunity for objections to the wording to be made before it was finalised.


  7. “It skirts around what the bill was made for (blocking a loophole that child molesters, etc., could use to evade punishment)”

    Absolute nonsense, the purpose of the law change was to remove the defence of reasonable force when using forms of corporal punishment on children for the purposes of correction, where the hell do you get child molesting – sexual predation of children- from??


  8. Erm, the usual call—in my experience—has been to ask that the referendum be dropped, not for the question to be altered. The subject of the question is irrelevant as I tried to point out. Given that rewording it won’t help. (Your example has this problem.) With that in mind, I think you’ve missed what I was trying to say.

    Sorry, by molestation I wasn’t meaning to refer to sexual assault. (Ease up on attacking my reply, eh? You’re acting a bit too fast: look for the most likely reason before you jump on me, eh?!)


  9. Sorry if I was too aggressive, you usually say what you mean and mean what you say, I thought it was a fair assumption that that was the case this time.

    So what you’re saying is that the only part of your 11:48 comment that had any relevance was the first sentence. I agree that that sentence is largely true, but only because the PM has already made his decision. In that respect it’s a bit like the elections held in the USSR, why hold them when the outcome is predetermined?


  10. you usually say what you mean

    I try to, but I’m only human in the end 🙂


  11. Andrew – not predetermined, obviously. But whatever the result it will have no direct legal influence.

    How could it as the referendum phrase is based on a false proposition. As the police point out “Smacking”, in itself, is not an offence.

    You claim there “has been a significant rise in the investigation of parents for smacking and minor disciplinary events”. Can you provide a reference for this claim. That didn’t come through in the police report which says “there has been minimal impact on police activity since enactment.”

    Do you have data the police don’t? I haven’t seen any data supporting your claim, myself.


  12. While the police report covers too short a period before the change in the law to be useful, this CYF report claims a 30% increase in interventions.

    Click to access MSD_Supporting_Vulnerable_Children_Briefing.pdf


  13. Actually, Andrew, the Police conclusion related to the period since the change in legislation – although they only has 3 month figures from before the change for obvious reasons..

    I have had a brief look at the CYF report and it seems the 31% increase in notifications refers to “family violence” – not “smacking” incidents. (The document doesn’t even seem to include the words “smack” or “smacking”).

    However, the number of notifications requiring intervention seems to have dropped quite a bit. This could indicate that more of the notifications are frivolous, or not. One would need more data to draw a conclusion.


  14. Pingback: The Referendum on Smacking In New Zealand: VoteNo.org « John Dierckx

  15. Verbatim from the letters to the editor (any typos will be mine):

    It is certain that the infinitely good G-d commands that the corporal correction of children by their parents. This is clear from the doctrine of the Holy Scripture, and the constant teaching of the holy Catholic Church, which further teaches that this duty may be sinner against by excess or defect, namely by the overindulgent parent who spoils the child and the overly harsh parent who makes the child’s life a misery. It is the virtue which lies between the extremes that G-d demands and the Church promotes, and which may be well expressed as “a smack as part of good parental correction”. That the wording of the current law makes this a criminal offence is nothing short of diabolic[al].

    The final point is false, of course… but this does rather nicely illustrate that this issue is one with religious connotations for some.

    PS: I’m curious that the “scripture” is capital-H holy and the Catholic church isn’t! Maybe all the “naughty boys” (aka priests) in their ranks has caused it to fall in status… 🙂

    PPS: There is a debate on this issue on Prime TV about “right-now” (won’t be watching it).


  16. Pingback: That ‘no’ vote « Open Parachute

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