I can’t say I’m all that surprised about the results of the ‘smacking’ referendum. As any good pollster will tell you, if you ask a leading question you’ll get the result you want.
And that’s exactly what we got. Contrary to what the beating lobby is claiming today, all this referendum tells us is that of the 54% of people who bothered voting, 88% think that “a smack as part of good parental correction” should not be criminal offence in New Zealand.
Unfortunately that tells us nothing about whether New Zealanders want to repeal the law.
I think it’s fair to say the results indicate a lot of parents are still confused or uneasy about the new law, and the Government is probably right to consider ways they can put parents’ minds at ease without re-introducing the kind of law that made it legal for people to viciously beat their children with riding crops or made them think it’s okay to punch their child in the face.
But I can’t help thinking we could have figured that out for ourselves without going through this wasteful $9 million PR exercise for the Christian Right.