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Smacking Debate Distracts from Child Abuse Causes

27 July 2005

Smacking Debate Distracts from Main Cause of Child Abuse

Christian Heritage NZ leader Ewen McQueen said that allowing the anti-smacking bill to pass its first reading and go to a select committee would merely distract attention from the main cause of child abuse. McQueen noted that compared with thirty years ago fewer parents smacked their children, and yet child abuse was now at record levels. He said,

"If smacking was directly related to child abuse then we would expect to see less abuse today - not more. However there are now far more child deaths due to abuse than there ever have been. Given this, it is clear that what is driving the increase in child abuse is not the practice of smacking."

The CHNZ leader went on to say that the major cause of child abuse was the casualisation of human relationships in New Zealand society. It was no coincidence that the increasing trend towards more informal family structures had gone hand in hand with the rising rate of child abuse. He stated,

"There is clear evidence that children are at significantly greater risk of abuse in households where the parents are not married, and especially where the father is not the natural father of the child, but is rather the mother's latest partner1."

Mr McQueen said that marriage more than any other type of relationship provided the long-term parental commitment needed to produce stable family life and improved outcomes for children. Only by encouraging such commitment could the rate of child abuse be lowered - not by outlawing smacking.


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