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Smacking Law Rejected By Majority Of NZ'ers

17 JUNE 2007

Smacking Law Rejected by Majority of NZ'ers - 78% Will Ignore the Law

Only 29% of NZ'ers support the Sue Bradford 'anti-smacking' bill due to become enforceable in law this week, and 78% plan to ignore the law and continue to smack as a form of correction, despite the possibility they might be prosecuted.

These are the key finding of research commissioned by Family First NZ and conducted by market research company Curia Market Research. The poll surveyed almost 1,000 people and found continued overwhelming opposition to the new law.

29% strongly or somewhat agreed with the new law despite the Police discretion clause, while 62% strongly or somewhat disagreed with the law. 9% had no opinion either way.

"This law will turn the huge proportion of good parents and grandparents into law-breakers and politicians have failed to hear and acknowledge the voice of NZ'ers," says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

82% said that the new law should be changed to state explicitly that parents who give their children a smack that is reasonable and for the purpose of correction are not breaking the law.

When asked whether their support for a party would be affected if they promised to change the law, 31% said they would be more likely to vote for that party, 6% less likely, and the policy would make no difference to 59% of voters. 4% didn't know.

78% of respondents said that despite the new law, they would continue to smack their child to correct their behaviour if they believed it was reasonable to do so.

"This result is surprising, and a huge concern to us," says Mr McCoskrie. "For a new law to be ignored by so many people who are willing to risk a police investigation indicates just how out of step with reality this law is. NZ'ers have not been fooled by the claims of the anti-smacking lobby that smacking is child abuse, they haven't been duped by dodgy research attempting to suggest that children are damaged by reasonable smacking, and they have understood that our unacceptable rate of child abuse has far deeper root causes that a loving parent who corrects their child with a smack on the bottom."

When asked whether they thought the new law was likely to help reduce the rate of child abuse in NZ, 77% responded that it was not at all likely. Only 5% thought it was very likely, and 17% said somewhat likely.

"This is a significant result. Politicians were hijacked by 'feel-good' ideology and law-making, but NZ'ers have not been fooled," says Mr McCoskrie. "NZ'ers didn't see the need for the law change in the first place, and they still don't see the need. They desparately want politicians to tackle the real causes of child abuse without penalising good parenting practice."

"The late addition of the Police discretion clause has not reassured parents as the politicians believed it would."

As a result of these survey findings, Family First is calling on MP's to amend the bill, so that the law explicitly states that reasonable smacking for the purpose of correction is not a criminal act.

"Parliament should also give urgent priority to understanding and addressing the wider causes of family breakdown, family violence and child abuse in NZ - a sentiment shared by 200,000 NZ'ers who have already signed the petition demanding a Referendum on this issue," says Mr McCoskrie.

The poll was conducted during the week beginning June 11. The margin of error for the survey is +/- 3.3 percent at a 95 percent confidence level.


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