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PM Misleading Public on Smacking Prosecutions

PM Misleading Public on Smacking Prosecutions

Family First NZ says that the Prime Minister is now misrepresenting the facts relating to smacking prosecutions. The Dominion Post and the Sunday Star Times have already had to print corrections because of misrepresenting these facts.

“A number of media outlets and editorials claimed that police have prosecuted just eight parents for smacking children in the five years since the law came in and that seven of those parents had smacked their child in the head or face. This was completely wrong and misleading. The Prime Minister is now repeating the myth (Radio Live this morning). It is also disappointing that the police are not speaking up about the incorrect information, and we wonder why not,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“This means that John Key’s judgment of the working of the law is based on wrong information. This is either to justify not taking action on fixing the law, or the Prime Minister is continuing to receive wrong advice.”

According to the police reviews on the law, smacking is defined as ‘a slap with the open hand on the buttocks or legs that does not result in any form of injury’. The police claim that ‘"smacking" in itself is not an offence.’ A minor act of physical discipline is defined as ‘a slap with the open hand on any other part of the body (including the face) that does not result in any form of injury’. There have been 46 prosecutions for minor acts of physical discipline, and 8 for smacking.

“But what is significant is the prosecutions for smacking which the police and the politicians say will not be prosecuted.”

According to the police reviews:
1. One smacking event was prosecuted, but subsequently withdrawn when the primary witness declined to give evidence. 3rd review
2. One prosecution – no details provided by police. 6th review
3. Child was smacked on leg. 7th review
4. Child was smacked on the buttocks with no physical injury. 8th review
5. Child was smacked on the buttocks with no physical injury. 9th review
6. Father allegedly slapped his daughter on her lower leg, causing her to cry but leaving no injury - withdrawn due to insufficient evidence. 10th review
7. Child smacked around the upper thighs, leaving no injuries. 10th review
8. Father smacked his two sons on their legs in a public place, resulting in no injuries. 10th review

“Parents will be surprised by the types of actions which the police are taking to court – despite the guarantees of the Prime Minister that a smack is ok – a claim reiterated this morning on Radio Live. Almost 600 kiwi families have had a police investigation for allegations of smacking or minor acts of physical discipline since the anti-smacking law was passed yet only 9% of them have been serious enough to warrant charges being laid,” says Mr McCoskrie.

“A law is obviously a ‘dog’s breakfast’ when there is such a high rate (90%-plus) of cases warranting no further action by the police. Yet for these ‘good parents’, the experience will have been hell.”

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