In a nationwide non-binding referendum that ended on Friday, nearly 88 percent of New Zealanders voted “NO” when asked this question: “Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offense?”
There is already a law on the books in New Zealand that prohibits parents from hitting their children. Some parents think the law is intrusive and that this form of discipline is a private family matter.
The government has said that the existing law will not be changed.
Should governments make laws about how to punish children? Or it is a private matter? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.
New Zealand bloggers weighed in on the issue.
Kiwi blogger Kelvin Hartnall takes issue with the language of the referendum:
My first complaint is with the unnecessary adjective ‘good’; how can ‘good’ parenting be wrong? To see the effect of this word, just try rereading the question by placing a negative adjective in this place such as ‘abusive’.
My second complaint is with the word ‘smack’ in the question. My issue is that this word doesn’t actually appear in the Act at all. In this question it helps conjure up a loving gentle smack on the bottom. The Act was passed to prevent physical assaults on children that would be prosecutable if the child was an adult.
Blogger “KiwiPolitico” explains why s/he voted yes to overturn the smacking ban:
I voted yes because I believe smacking children is wrong.
I voted yes because I want to reaffirm that the Christian right do not speak for me. Many many (many) Christians in New Zealand believe, as I do, that smacking is wrong.
I voted yes because countless people gained the signatures of 300,000 voters to give me the opportunity to say out loud what I believe.
I voted yes because I want to live in a country where children are hugged, held, comforted, and raised to be non-violent adults.
At a Facebook group urging a “NO” vote, “Bart” writes:
It demotes Parents from being the highest authority in their childrens lives and devalues the role of parents in the family, and the family is the cornerstone of civilised society.
It leaves children without guidance, a quick smack is effective at communicating without resorting to emotional blackmail and other methods which are actually more damaging and have a longer lasting “scaring” effect.
It supposes that behaviour (if it is bad, but it’s not when done normally in loving correction) can be changed by legislation. If it is such a good thing to not smack (for the correct reasons) then why is there not several years of education instead of the intrusive law telling good parents how to bring up their own children.