New Zealand votes on law against child smacking

Thu Aug 6, 2009 2:51am EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Adrian Bathgate

WELLINGTON (Reuters Life!) - "Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?"

That's the question a New Zealand referendum on anti-smacking laws is asking people as the country debates a controversial 2007 law that made smacking children a criminal offence.

The postal referendum has sparked heated debate in New Zealand, with some saying it is a waste of time because the results are not binding on the government.

The law was introduced to combat maltreatment, but sparked protest from those who saw it as the state dictating how they should raise their children.

Domestic violence is a major issue in New Zealand, which has the third-highest rate of child deaths caused by maltreatment in the OECD.

"It's a waste of money. The question is so stupid they'll get a lot of red herrings and a lot of people won't vote," said Stephanie Phillips, a mother of three from Wellington.

"The referendum question is ridiculous. It's quite confusing. You kind of have to answer the opposite to what you believe."

Prime Minister John Key has said the government does not plan to change the law, whatever the result. Key said the law would only be changed if there was evidence showing it did not work.   Continued...