25 Jul 2009

Parents still smacking despite law change

8:05 pm on 25 July 2009

A new poll suggests 60% of parents still smack their children occasionally, despite a law change effectively banning the practice.

The Weekend Herald-Digipoll survey questioned 200 parents of 4-year-olds about parental discipline and found 9% of mothers and 8% of fathers say they smack their children at least once a week.

Despite a law change in 2007 which abolished the use of reasonable force against children for the purpose of "correction," the poll shows nearly two thirds of parents still smack their children occasionally.

39% of mothers and 33% of fathers say they never smack.

Bob McCoskrie of Family First is surprised such a high proportion of parents are flouting the law by smacking their children.

He says that just shows the law is not working.

The poll also found 85.4% of those questioned plan to vote "no" in a referendum next month, which asks "Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?".

Green MP Sue Bradford says she was disappointed by that response.

She says there seems to be a lack of congruence between people's practice and the fact so many of them still think it should be legal to hit children.

The Weekend Herald says the poll has a margin of error of 6.9 percentage points.

Voting papers for the referendum on the 2007 amendment to the Crimes Act which outlaws force as a parent's correctional tool will go out from the end of next week.