8 Sep 2009

Psychologist chosen for child discipline review team

7:33 am on 8 September 2009

A well-known clinical psychologist who voted "no" in recent smacking referendum has been chosen to join a team reviewing how smacking is dealt with by the authorities.

Nigel Latta has been chosen by Prime Minister to join Police Commissioner Howard Broad and Social Development Ministry chief executive Peter Hughes on the review team.

The review will look at how police and Child, Youth and Family deal with smacking and report to the Government on whether changes are needed.

Prime Minister John Key announced the review in response to a citizens initiated referendum on smacking, saying it should give parents comfort that they will not be criminalised for lightly smacking their children.

The referendum question asked: Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?

Of the 1.62 million people who voted in the non-binding referendum, 87.6% did not believe smacking should be a criminal offence.

Mr Latta voted "no" in the referendum and says parents who smack their children should not be subject to criminal prosecution.

Mr Key says Mr Latta will bring an honest and direct approach to the review.

Green Party MP Sue Bradford says she has some worries about Mr Latta's criticism of the child discipline legislation she backed, and hopes he will be will be fair and professional in his involvement with the review.

Larry Baldock, who organised the smacking referendum, says Mr Latta's opinion will not change the law and the panel is a waste of time.