Saturday, August 22, 2009

The results are in…

…and unfortunately they don’t make for comfortable reading.

My post of July 7, Vote YES New Zealand, talked about the then upcoming citizens initiated referendum on child discipline.

The current (2007) law allows parents to use force to prevent harmful, criminal, offensive or disruptive behaviour and to perform "the normal daily tasks that are incidental to good care and parenting". In the highly successful Scandinavian style*, the use of force for corrective purposes was outlawed.

This law was in response to New Zealand’s shameful record with looking after our children. In a country of only 4,000,000 we lose up to 12 kids every year to beatings which are defended as discipline gone wrong. Another 443 preschool children were hospitalised with injuries from assaults in the years between 1995 - 2004.

In the last fortnight in New Zealand 3 pre-schoolers have died from non-accidental injuries.

Who cares?

The ‘Family First’ lobby forced this referendum in an effort to have the government rethink the law and the results show that 88% of respondents believe that the law should give them the right to discipline their children how they see fit including the use of corporal punishment.

I get that the abusers aren’t the ordinary mum and dad kiwis who love their kids and would never want to hurt them. I also get that any law isn’t going to stop those who seriously hurt their children intentionally but we have to start somewhere and if that means criminalising smacking to remove the acceptability and normalcy of adult on child assault then I’m all for it. We’ve managed to achieve this with spousal violence in only a couple of generations – it’s not gone but it sure isn’t acceptable anymore like it was.

Unfortunately it seems I am one of only 12% of New Zealanders who feel this way. Actually only 54% of eligible New Zealanders believed this was an important enough issue to bother voting on at all.

Even if we do give the odd smack, shouldn't we all aspire, at the very least, to raise our children without violence?


*It’s been illegal to smack your child in Sweden since 1975 and despite their population being triple ours, they lose an average of only 4 pre-schoolers to child abuse most years.  Still too many I know but a tiny proportion per capita of our shameful result here in NZ.

If you can stomach some details around how these kiwi kids are dying read here. An NZ Herald article by Dita de Boni yesterday.



It’s 7:45pm on Saturday night and as usual I’m wasting a few last minutes online before dressing for what should hopefully be a fun night. A friend is turning 44 this week coming (a couple of weeks after my own 44th) and we’ve opted for a shared party this year. It’s at her place as she has a lovely home with a big party room basement. A few of us have been over there this afternoon getting the place party ready and decorating etc. Must go now and finish the beauty routine, I had my hair done this morning so at least I don’t need to worry about that but I’ve still got to throw on my party dress and apply the war paint and the bling.

I’ve got Linkin Park blaring from the stereo to help me get in the mood. Fun fun fun.


  1. Wow, that's kind of scary. With all that kids face these days, from bullying in school and on the streets, you hope that they could at least feel safe at home!

  2. I know, how sick is it that kiwi kids are not safe in their homes. I feel dismayed at the apathy about this. I am actually quite disappointed about being a kiwi lately, we've also just decided apoparently that gay couples should not have the right to adopt babies. I barely know my people anymore and it makes me sad.

  3. That's such sad and frightening news. I guess the only thing we can hope is that the RIGHT person will make the RIGHT amount of noise at the RIGHT time in an election year and suddenly everyone will WAKE UP and realize there are other ways to parent a child! My dad had no trouble smacking us around when we were little and I SWORE I never would...and 99.9% of the time, I never DID.

  4. Me too Kathryn. I am not a perfect parent by any stretch but I tried really hard not to use violence as the answer to anything. As you say hopefully one day things will change.


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