Johannesburg - Family First NZ, a leading family group in New Zealand, is warning South African families that a smacking ban will do more harm than good by criminalising good parents, and harming children and families, with little effect on the real issue of child abuse.
“A decade on from the passing of the controversial anti-smacking law in New Zealand, the law has maintained its very high level of opposition; but, most significantly, the law has had a 'chilling' effect on parenting, and rather than tackling rotten parents who are abusing their children, it has targeted well-functioning parents,” says Bob McCoskrie, the national director of Family First NZ.
“An independent legal analysis at the end of 2014 by a prominent New Zealand public lawyer of court cases involving prosecutions for smacking found that statements made by politicians that the smacking ban would not criminalise ‘good parents’ for lightly smacking their children are inconsistent with the legal effect and application of the law,” he said.
A 2016 report analysing the 2007 anti-smacking law, “Defying Human Nature: An Analysis of New Zealand’s 2007 Anti-Smacking Law”, found there was not a single social indicator relating to the abuse of children that had shown significant or sustained improvement since the passing of the law. Police statistics showed a 136 percent increase in physical abuse, a 43 percent increase in sexual abuse, 45 percent increase in neglect or ill-treatment of children, and 71 child abuse deaths since the law was passed in 2007.
A 2017 survey found that two out of three New Zealanders said they would flout the law. An earlier survey in 2011, four years after the law was passed, found that almost a third of parents of younger children say their children have threatened to report them if they were smacked, and almost one in four parents of younger children say they have less confidence when dealing with unacceptable behaviour from their children.