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The next step on smacking

Written By: - Date published: 8:45 am, April 14th, 2010 - 44 comments
Categories: child abuse, child discipline - Tags: ,

Smacking and the reform of Section 59 was one of the big political issues of the last few years. Key’s position on facing down the appallingly worded “smacking referendum” remains one of the very few things that I can respect and applaud him on. Key walked a tightrope, keeping the reform in place, but assuring an apparently angry public that it was OK to give “light smacks”.

Key will not want to revisit this issue, but new evidence suggests that he should. I’m not talking about this poll:

Poll finds smacking making comeback

Smacking children may be creeping back into favour following Government assurances that police will not prosecute parents for “light smacks”, according to a new survey. The poll of 1000 people by Curia Market Research found that 44 per cent of parents of children under 12 admitted to smacking their children in the past year “to correct their behaviour when [they] believed it was reasonable and appropriate to do so”. Previous polls asking the same question found that self-confessed smackers dropped from 48 per cent of parents in 2008 to 39 per cent last March as publicity about the “anti-smacking” law rose to a crescendo.

The latest survey suggests either that smacking may have increased slightly again or that parents have become more willing to admit to it.

I suspect that the latter is the correct explanation – the poll measured people’s willingness to admit to smacking rather than any real changes in behaviour. No, much more significant for the debate is the publication of the first large scale well controlled study on the effects of smacking:

Study: Spanking Kids Leads to More Aggressive Behavior

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does not endorse spanking for any reason, citing its lack of long-term effectiveness as a behavior-changing tactic. … Now researchers at Tulane University provide the strongest evidence yet against the use of spanking: of the nearly 2,500 youngsters in the study, those who were spanked more frequently at age 3 were more likely to be aggressive by age 5. The research supports earlier work on the pitfalls of corporal punishment, including a study by Duke University researchers that revealed that infants who were spanked at 12 months scored lower on cognitive tests at age 3. …

Led by Catherine Taylor, the Tulane study was the first to control simultaneously for variables that are most likely to confound the association between spanking and later aggressive behavior. The researchers accounted for factors such as acts of neglect by the mother, violence or aggression between the parents, maternal stress and depression, the mother’s use of alcohol and drugs, and even whether the mother considered abortion while pregnant with the child. Each of these factors contributed to children’s aggressive behavior at age 5, but they could not explain all of the violent tendencies at that age. Further, the positive connection between spanking and aggression remained strong, even after these factors had been accounted for.

“The odds of a child being more aggressive at age 5 if he had been spanked more than twice in the month before the study began increased by 50%,” says Taylor. And because her group also accounted for varying levels of natural aggression in children, the researchers are confident that “it’s not just that children who are more aggressive are more likely to be spanked.”

What the study, published Monday in the journal Pediatrics, shows is that outside of the most obvious factors that may influence violent behavior in children, spanking remains a strong predictor. “This study controls for the most common risk factors that people tend to think of as being associated with aggression,” says Singer. “This adds more credence, more data and more strength to the argument against using corporal punishment.” …

The reason for that, says Singer, may be that spanking instills fear rather than understanding. Even if a child were to stop his screaming tantrum when spanked, that doesn’t mean he understands why he shouldn’t be acting out in the first place. What’s more, spanking models aggressive behavior as a solution to problems. …

Spanking may stop a child from misbehaving in the short term, but it becomes less and less effective with repeated use, according to the AAP; it also makes discipline more difficult as the child gets older and outgrows spanking. As the latest study shows, investing the time early on to teach a child why his behavior is wrong may translate to a more self-aware and in-control youngster in the long run.

Corporal punishment breeds a cycle of violence. Abuse is an intergenerational problem. The reform of Section 59 and the debate that followed was a first, crucial step towards shifting public opinion on these issues. But it was only a start, and NZ is still a country with appalling childhood abuse statistics. It’s time for another step. A public education campaign based on the results and conclusions of the Tulane study would be a good place to start. The problem isn’t going to fix itself…

44 comments on “The next step on smacking”

  1. felix 1

    Well duh.

  2. The only thing this study tells us is why social science is crap.

    • So what do you rely on when deciding on an important social issue?
      Tea leaves?
      Phases of the moon?

      Or is it that if the conclusions do not match your prejudices you automatically rule the study out?

    • I apply a bit of critical thinking to the claims: 1. because all social science research shows what the researchers want it to show, and 2. because there are studies purporting to show otherwise.

      This measuring “aggression” is the exact same bollocks with which conservatives seek to “prove” putting kids in childcare makes them more aggressive, and their studies show correlations just like this one does. One of the things that became clear from those studies was that you need to take a real close look at how the researchers are defining aggression.

      Even if we take “aggression” at face value, there’s (as usual with the social sciences) a glaring correlation = causation error: Kids spanked recently were more aggressive, therefore spanking causes aggression. The researchers are at least aware of this flaw and declare that they’ve accounted for it and yeah it’s definitely the spanking that’s causative. Sure they did – establishing genuine causality’s a doddle, isn’t it.

      Rushing to print with a “look, this study shows…” is bullshit. Journalists do it all the time in our news media, but that doesn’t make it any less bullshit when bloggers do it.

      • r0b 2.2.1

        I apply a bit of critical thinking to the claims:

        You apply your ideological blinkers to the claims.

        1. because all social science research shows what the researchers want it to show,

        Ohh grow up.

        2. because there are studies purporting to show otherwise.

        Which is where sample size and methodology come in to assessing the credibility of the claims.

        This measuring “aggression’ is the exact same bollocks

        So social science research is just too hard, we should give up, and fly blind? Bullshit. You do the best, most rigourous job you can, which is what this study seems to have done.

        The researchers are at least aware of this flaw and declare that they’ve accounted for it

        Mmmm, that’s right, and I think that they know a bit more about it than you PM.

        Rushing to print with a “look, this study shows ‘ is bullshit. Journalists do it all the time in our news media, but that doesn’t make it any less bullshit when bloggers do it.

        How did you manage to type that while simultaneously sticking both fingers in your ears and chanting “la la la I can’t heaaaar you!”?

        • Psycho Milt

          Please – no political agendas in the social sciences? Anyone imagining there are should remove their ideological blinkers and grow up? Seriously?

          So social science research is just too hard, we should give up, and fly blind?

          Not at all. We should just approach it aware of the agendas of the people carrying out the research, and keeping in mind that for every study like the one above there’s one like this: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10404809. They can’t all be right.

          • ianmac

            That is a credible piece of research Psyco. And it does show a slice of the big picture. Well done. But it is not conclusive because it does not focus on the specific question because the study was not geared for that.
            It does raise a philosophical questions about the best way to correct behaviour. Why would anyone choose to smack a kid? Why would they defend the smacking? (Many will tell you that they were angry at the time, or that they couldn’t think of a better way.)
            Anyway Rob. Thanks for the post. It is part of the balance.

          • r0b

            Please no political agendas in the social sciences? Anyone imagining there are should remove their ideological blinkers and grow up? Seriously?

            That’s not what you said PM. You said “because all social science research shows what the researchers want it to show”. And yes, anyone who would say “because all social science research shows what the researchers want it to show” needs to grow up. Seriously.

            They can’t all be right.

            These two studies can certainly both be right. From the one you link to: “Dr Millichamp said there was no doubt that abusive punishments had long-lasting negative consequences, but the research did not support banning mild smacks”. It depends on the definitions of “mild smacks”, “spanking”, “corporal punishment” and “abusive punishments” used in each of the studies.

            • Psycho Milt

              Fair enough – “all” is of course a word one should use sparingly. The actual proportion is obviously unknown, but personal experience with social scientists suggests it’s not low…

              These two studies can certainly both be right.

              Indeed. For example, they’d both be right if the Otago study is considering only the effects of smacks with an open hand and the Tulane study is lumping that in with child abuse. Or they’d both be right if the Tulane study is inviting mothers to report behaviour they consider to be “aggressive.” Too many variables, too many loose definitions and too much pretending that all the variables and definitions have been satisfactorily accounted for would be a typical day in social science publishing – we’ll have to wait to see whether the Tulane study fits that type though, because it’s not published yet.

              • r0b

                No need to be so down on the social science PM. All branches of science need to guard against the bias of expectation – that’s the whole point of the “scientific method”. The medical and demographic “research” paid for by the tobacco companies is a clear case of buying the results that you want. As is too much of the pharmacological research in the drug industry. The climate change denier industry shows that you can apply the same tactics in earth and environmental sciences. Indeed, the theory of constructivist epistemology (and related concepts in linguistics such as the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis) suggest that all science (indeed all thought) is socially constructed.

                All well and good, but in the real world we do the best that we can taking in to account the weight of the evidence and the methodology that was used to collect it.

      • toad 2.2.2

        Try reading the study itself (PDF).

        (Sorry this excerpt is so long, but it addresses the issues Psycho Milt attempts to obfusate on, and some people obviously can’t be bothered opening the source document):

        Our study accounted for 8 maternal parenting risks for child aggression, including other forms of harsh parenting besides CP, child neglect, intimate partner aggression or violence, and maternal parenting stress, depression, use of substances, and consideration of abortion. As anticipated, all of these factors were found to be associated both with CP use and with child aggression and therefore had the potential to be important confounders of this association. Although previous studies on this topic accounted for parenting risks such as maternal psychopathological conditions, parental marital adjustment or conflict, and/or relevant demographic features, no other studies, to our knowledge, accounted simultaneously for all of the confounders addressed in
        this study while also addressing the other key conditions (statistical significance, temporality, and initial levels of child aggression) that must be met to assert more strongly that use of CP leads to higher levels of aggression in children.

        We found that, even when all of those maternal parenting risks were controlled for, mothers’ more-frequent use of CP with their 3-year-old children increased the odds of those children being more aggressive at age 5. This finding is consistent with dozens of other studies that showed a significant statistical link between the use of CP and child aggression, including studies summarized by Gershoff and other studies conducted since the time of that meta-analysis; it also is consistent with studies that similarly controlled for children’s initial level of aggression.

        In our final model, CP was the only parenting risk factor examined that remained statistically
        linked (after Bonferroni correction) with subsequent child aggression. This finding seems to support a social learning approach to understanding the cycle of violence, whereby the child learns to be aggressive by being treated directly with aggression.

        One may wonder, then, why child physical maltreatment by the mother was not related to child aggression. The physical maltreatment subscale of the Parent-Child Conflict Tactics Scale contained 5 items (shook; hit on the bottom with something like a belt, hairbrush, a stick, or some other hard object; slapped on the hand, arm, or leg; pinched; and spanked on the bottom with a bare hand). When the latter item was removed, however, there was a substantial decrease in the reliability coefficient for this subscale (from .63 to .48). Furthermore, 2 of the remaining 4 items were reported very rarely (shook, 5%; pinched, 8%); spanking was much more common.

        Therefore, the lack of association between child physical maltreatment by the mother and subsequent child aggression may be an issue of statistical power rather than theoretical

        There are several limitations to our study. First, this study focused only on mothers’ use of CP and did not account for fathers’ or other caregivers’ use of CP. Furthermore, all variables in this study were based on mothers’ self-reports; there were no observational data, and reports might be subject to biases related to recall and/or social desirability. Also, there is always concern in observational studies that unmeasured confounders may explain the associations found; however, when this concern was addressed to some extent in a previous study by using hierarchical linear modeling, the link between CP and child aggression remained.

        Given the problem of potential unmeasured confounders, it is not possible to assert causality between CP and child aggression in observational studies such as this. As with other studies of risk behaviors (eg, smoking), it would be unethical to assign parents randomly to use CP or not to use CP, given the existing evidence linking CP with associated harm in children. Therefore, we must rely largely on evidence from observational studies, such as the current one, that aim to account for as many other possible explanations of the association between CP and subsequent child aggression as possible.

        • NickS

          Might be an idea to chuck a copy up of the full paper, since not everyone has the means to get past the paywalls…

          Anyhow, Psycho Milt’s full of sh*t, as instead of actually bothering to look at the studies methodology, he trashes it on a priori basis that all social sciences a BS, imagining a monolithic, unchanging construct in which to lump rather divergent methodologies and areas of enquiry with differing levels of success when it comes ton getting empirically robust results…

          Classic burning stupid if ever there was, oh well, at least he’s not bright enough to go the post-modernist “socially constructed” word salad way.

          • Psycho Milt

            Your faith in the social sciences is touching, but by no means a marker of superior intelligence. As you point out, for all I know the study is an excellent one, as studies go. And for all I know the studies by conservatives establishing that childcare makes children more aggressive were also excellent ones. Given the political agendas usually involved with such studies, a credulous attitude to them is “burning stupid,” as you put it.

        • Ari

          While I’d like to endorse the study, the fact that it is based on self-reporting of parents makes for really unpredictable quality of results. 🙁 Really, I’m not sure how you can go about calling something a “study” without some actual observation involved.

    • Sam 2.3

      What a well-reasoned argument! I’m utterly convinced!

  3. BeShakey 3

    So Family Fist commissioned David Farrar to do a ‘survey’ and he came up with the result they paid for. I wouldn’t put any faith in anything either Farrar or fist say.

  4. Andrew 4

    why is is then that given corporal punishment was much more common when i was younger, and indeed when my father was younger, but violence stats seem to be getting worse as corporal punishment decreases. I may very well be wrong regarding the stats, but they do seem to be worse now than they were.

    • r0b 4.1

      The role of corporal punishment is only part of the picture, there’s a few other wee changes going on in society that influence the incidence of violence. Growing social inequality, the correlation with unemployment, much improved reporting of violence, and the normalisation of violence in entertainment and the media not least among them.

      • mcflock 4.1.1

        not to mention the role the media has in establishing perceptions of public safety.

      • Ari 4.1.2

        I’m really not sure it’s so much the media portrayal of violence as media and wider societal excusing of violence that impacts things. I’ve not seen any convincing evidence that violence in media increases aggression or actual violent tendencies.

      • mcflock 4.1.3

        I didn’t say that the media causes *violence*, just that it increases the *perceived* violent crime rate.

        ISTR back in the day reading one or two studies that suggested extensive media reporting can be associated with a subsequent public perception of crime rates worsening, regardless of what the actual crime rate is. No links/references though. Just speculating why Andrew might be perceiving violence to be even worse now than it actually is, as opposed to then.

    • just saying 4.2

      Andrew, these researchers are clearly saying that childhood aggression is multi-factorial – that’s why they tried to control for other known causal factors like neglect and aggresion between parents.
      What they were trying to tease out is whether or not smacking is a causal factor and, if so, how big an influence it has.

      If what you say is true then maybe the other factors have increased over the years.

      Personally, I’m not convinced NZ is more violent than when I grew up. Certainly not if you allow for the extreme and often prolonged hardship that so many experience today, compared with when I was a kid.

      Btw, nobody will ever get ethical approval for an experiment on hitting children. Correlational studies are the best we can do. This sounds like a well designed one to me with a decent sized sample

    • Draco T Bastard 4.3

      When I was at uni a couple of years ago I was talking with a couple of other older people who remembered the 1980s and Bob Jones’ play for political power. One of the points brought up was Bob Jones punching one of the cameramen that had been following him. A young lady was walking past at the time and asked what had happened and we replied that everyone had a good laugh at it and that life continued on. She was absolutely shocked that such violence was considered normal at the time which it was. It isn’t any more which I think we can all be thankful for.

    • Descendant Of Smith 4.4

      Violence has always been there but it is clear that this generation is more open about it and it is more visible.

      When I was growing up violence within families was usually not reported – besides it was pretty much legal to rape your wife. Inevitably when you hear of someone who commits violence today they had violence committed on them by a family member, who had violence committed on them by a family member and so on.

      This is still true in many families today.

      There does seem to be more public violence however (in my lifetime) though again this has probably fluctuated. Certainly my father going to rugby tests in the 60’s and early 70’s carried a knife for protection.

      The police museum in Sydney carries a display of weapons used by street gangs in the 1920’s and 1930’s – these includes clubs with nails driven in them and with barbed wire wrapped around them. I seen a few bad things in my time but nothing like that.

      My grandfather’s generation went to war and this period was clearly extremely violent. More so than now – or do we not consider that as violence. I seem to remember they dropped some rather large bombs that killed many people. My generation hasn’t killed anywhere near the number of people that that generation did.

      Our population is much larger so that likely increases the crime levels.

      For most of us the 60’s and 70’s were a prosperous time with massive improvements in employment and housing, reasonable incomes. You could earn a bit more by working overtime, the government sucked up the unemployed through jobs on the railways and elsewhere in the public service.

      Even then there was plenty of domestic violence, drugs (Mr Asia anyone) and alcoholics.

      History shows us these problems will always exist.

      Maybe if we spent more time focusing on the children of those families and as a community raising them we would reduce the perpetuation.

      • ianmac 4.4.1

        D of Smith: That is the real crux. How to break the cycle.

        “At an early age that poor little kid Johnny was hit, molested, left hungry and treated like dirt, or ignored. Poor little bugger.”

        “The scumbag Johnny is before the court and what he did was disgusting. Lock the bastard up and throw away the key! He even tried to make excuses that he had been treated badly as a kid. Arsehole!”

        Same person. At some stage society switches from pity to blame and contempt.

        • Descendant Of Smith

          I would add part of the difficulty is that people who have no experience of living in that environment have little understanding of what is needed to break it.

          I remember when Once Were Warriors came out and all these white middle class well-adjusted (normal) people at my workplace went along to see it. Shocked and appalled they were . They had all the solutions though – lock em , take their kids off em, compulsory abortion.

          Eventually they realised I had not gone to see the movie and wanted to know why. When i said I had no desire to go back into that type of environment, to be reminded of it, to re-experience they were slightly dumbstruck. When I talked about it violence being a learned behaviour and that most of these people were not evil or bad they were totally dumbfounded.

          When I talked about the strategies that we had used in our family to try and break those cycles they by then and switched off. ( I was obviously boring them).

          The thing is if you believe these people are all evil and bad then you can only draw from a limited range of strategies to combat the problem.

          If you believe that most individual can relearn their behaviour with improved education and income and role modelling and practise and effort then you have a much more rich plaette to draw from. Dove for instance does some really good work around this.

          If you overlay that with a strong focus on ensuring the children and well nourished and educated and looked after then you will likely break the cycle for many of those children. You may need to incarcerate to keep people safe but making a five year sentence into seven years does absolutely nothing to fix any problems.

          It’s a bit like the argument I have with anti-abortionists – if you want to reduce the rate of abortion help make society a better place where women feel that having the baby and keeping it and raising it is a viable choice because they know they will cope and manage, they know society values the important role they have, and so on.

          There are positive ways of dealing with all these issues once the pragmatic steps to ensure people are safe are taken.

          • Draco T Bastard

            I would add part of the difficulty is that people who have no experience of living in that environment have little understanding of what is needed to break it.

            I’d say that the people living in that environment don’t either. For them, it’s normal.

            • Descendant Of Smith

              That’s partly true and there are some who will never change. Many however don’t like living in that environment and can see ways out but struggle to do so.

              That’s partly why I referred to things such as role models and the community needing to be involved. By community I don’t just mean the small little village they live in.

              The difficulty is that if your starting point, your own belief, is that these people are bad and can’t be helped then you might as well just lock em up.

  5. tsmithfield 5

    I have looked at a lot of similar types of studies.

    One good point with this study is that it appears to be longitudinal, thus cause and effect can be determined with more certainty.

    However, a weakness with this type of study is that there are often multitudes of variables that could contribute to behaviour that are often necessarily excluded for practical considerations. For example, diet could be a highly relevant variable that does not seem to be controlled for in this study.


    Perhaps parents who are more violent towards their children also tend to feed them a much poorer diet that contributes to agressive behaviour, for example.

    To this extent, I would be interested to know the R squared. Typically, even strongly significant effects in social studies often have quite low R squared results (in the .1-.2 range), which means there could be a lot of other ommitted variables that could be accounting for the behaviour (i.e. aggression) if R squared is quite small. If other omitted variables were included the association might weaken or disappear.

    Also, the report on this study does not seem to mention how “spanking” is defined. Does it differentiate between thrashing a child and lightly smacking on the hand, for instance? The study itself may provide an explanation for how “spanking” is operationalized in the study, but the article on the study doesn’t give this.

    • NickS 5.1

      For fuck’s sake, controlling for income also typically controls for food intake, not to mention it’s a article from 1998, on a autism website that proudly proclaims that vaccines are teh evil and are one of the causes of autism. Not exactly a pinnacle of critical scientific thinking.

      Oh, and this is quite reminiscent of ye olde tactic of climate denialists, snipe at the press release and use that to claim the research is wrong, instead of realising science journalism is usually a crap shot.

      And on the R squared, better off with ANOVA/ANCOVA type models, since they allow for better analysis of sources of variances in a model with multiple variables than a linear regression.

      • tsmithfield 5.1.1

        Nick, it is standard practice to look for weaknesses in studies so future studies can be improved. Unless its something you hold dear to yourself, I guess. Then you refer to anyone who dares try and find weaknesses in a given study as a “denier”.

        Have a look at the subsequent post I made. I clearly said that my comments did not reflect my views on the topic of smacking. I actually oppose smacking, although I do think that trite, transitory smacking is relatively harmless. However, that doesn’t mean that I won’t take a critical look at studies whether they agree with my viewpoint or not.

        • NickS

          Sorry about that… *cough*

          But fundamentally, without looking at the actual methodologies employed in a study, it’s generally difficult to critique solely on a press release. Unless it’s do with a known moron per the usual HIV, evolution, climate change, birds are dinosaurs denialism stuff.

          And in this case, you haven’t bothered reading the paper to look at the methodologies it’s making use of, nor the controls the authors made use of, but by all means, please show us the flaws the authors have made when you have a copy, plus the references to the literature (or wikipedia if that’s how you swing…) to back up your claims.

          Then you refer to anyone who dares try and find weaknesses in a given study as a “denier’.


          Or, you know, it’s based off long term exposure to the tactics of evolution deniers, and noticing strong matches in behaviour to other types of denialism, such as HIV denialism, Autism is caused by vaccines bullsh*t (google “respectful insolence”, then look up the stuff Orac has on it) and more recently climate denialism of the popular variety*, r.e. Anthony microWatt’s bumblings…

          However, that doesn’t mean that I won’t take a critical look at studies whether they agree with my viewpoint or not.


          In case you haven’t learnt already, Popperian views stumble when a persons knowledge base is not comparable to what a research paper is discussing, it’s not say you can’t find major flaws in a paper with out having any university degree behind you, let alone a degree/courses in the subject area, it’s just that the more esoteric methodologies actually require background in them in order to gauge whether or not the authors have fucked up in using them. Which makes reading some ecology/evolutionary biology papers really, really fun in terms of the stats, and is why you get BA’s in Philosophy (or engineers) thinking they can debunk evolution etc and failing beautifully…

          * the published studies used by the morons are typically less flawed, but per the stuff tamino and realclimate put up on those studies it’s easy to see why they’re not typically published in major journals, let alone technical journals within their subject area.

  6. tsmithfield 6

    Another factor that doesn’t seem to have been controlled for is genetic history. There is a link between genetic history and agression:


    It might be that parents who are genetically predisposed towards aggression might both behave aggressively towards their children and also breed aggressive children.

    It should not be taken from my comments that I agree with smacking. However, I do like to see good studies.

  7. Olwyn 7

    My problem with the smacking debate is this: it drives a deeper wedge between the working class and liberal left. This is not because working class people are more likely to smack their children, but rather because working class people are more likely to be arrested or questioned by the police if they do. What is more, the debate seduces the liberal left into the easier and more enjoyable task of spreading their own brand of enlightenment, while putting the much more difficult task of fighting for real social justice onto the back burner. Ultimately, living wages, stable housing, and real citizenship probably play a bigger part in producing healthy stable adults than whether or not the hand that threw the egg at the cat is slapped or not.

    • r0b 7.1

      my problem with the smacking debate is this: it drives a deeper wedge between the working class and liberal left

      A fair and interesting point. I think the debate has to be had anyway, but you’re right that we need to be aware of this aspect of it.

      Ultimately, living wages, stable housing, and real citizenship probably play a bigger part in producing healthy stable adults than whether or not the hand that threw the egg at the cat is slapped or not.

      I agree, and I think you’ll find that most of the posts here at The Standard relate to such issues, and very few to smacking. But again, smacking, corporal punishment, child abuse, and the widespread child abuse in NZ, it’s all part of the picture, and we can’t just ignore it.

  8. ianmac 8

    If I say “Inconsequential smacking is OK,” not many people would change their behaviour.
    But if John Key says something similar, it just might have an effect on some who were starting to think that maybe smacking was undesirable. What a pity that John Key did undermine with an approval for light smacking. Shame.

  9. gingercrush 9

    Disregarding whether the study is any good you misconstrue the study because you say it leads to violence. Yet the study itself says it leads to aggression and as the study is not long-term and doesn’t trace those kids. One can’t actually conclude that the smacked children will become violent or their behaviour will evidently involve criminal behaviour.

    Secondly, why when we’re presented with problems (not that I actually agree there is a problem) do we automatically go into “public education campaigns”. As if they will someone help the problem. We’re overloaded with public campaigns as it. With little evidence to show they help those who actually need it.

    Also we had a referendum where 80% of those who replied to it said No to the question. What was John Key suppose to do? Keep the 80% pissed off about it or appease their fears that light smacking would not result in parents becoming criminals. You may as well blame Sue Bradford because even she said light smacking wouldn’t end up with parents being criminalised.

    Thirdly, many of you seem to have missed the point of the anti-smacking bill and why it ended up with bipartisan support by both Labour and National. The bill was designed to stop incidents where parents/others committed violence on children and yet somehow in going through the court process got off the crime they were charged for. Some may have seen the issue as literally no smacking. But that was never its intentions. Nor was the bill designed (or at least voted in by Labour and National) to provide moral condemnation on those that smacked.

    • gingercrush 9.1

      And had the bill been a moral compass where parents were made to feel as if they were criminals (and many actually do see the bill as doing that) if they smacked their children. Neither Labour or National would have voted for it.

    • Some may have seen the issue as literally no smacking. But that was never its intentions.

      Well that was certainly the intention in the initial stages. Sue Bradford announced her bill as an anti-smacking bill when it first went into the ballot.

      And given that the bill made smacking illegal, in situations where it was previously legal, ‘anti-smacking’ may not be the best moniker, but it was an accurate one. If Parliament had wanted an anti-beating bill, it could have passed one; in the end, it decided to pass a bill that was both anti-beating and anti-smacking.

  10. gingercrush 10

    Ack I hate no edit. (and many actually do see the Act as doing that)

    [lprent: The new server should be available to me tonight. Don’t expect I will have it done before the weekend. When the 100% CPU usage is not an issue, I’ll find and fix the problem. At present the process thrashing (just like Act) makes it difficult to see the problem. ]

  11. ianmac 11

    gingercrush:Agreed that the intent was very simple in removing the right to use reasonable force in disciplining children, so as to stop the very few from escaping after using sticks, canes, jug-cords etc.
    However the label “Anti-smacking” was used countless times by the Media and Politicians and the Pro-smacking brigade.
    Ironically the great by-product was the discussions over justifications for hitting kids and possible better ways. Like people bought up in apartheid many were saying ” It was just the way it was. I had never thought about it before. But now I wonder.” Good eh?

  12. jcuknz 12

    Frankly I am sick and tired of this whole debate.
    It will not alter how I think and vote becuase I am certain that much of the bad behaviour we suffer from in supermarkets and elsewhere comes from a lack of discipline and the teaching of consideration for others in public places.
    The confusion over the wording merely indicates the low level of comprehension resulting from the NZ education system which extends apparently up to our political leaders … Though I suspect that was more political than comprehension.
    I was fortuneate to experience both good and bad CP during my youth, discipline and abuse. I think abuse should be stamped on and out but good discipline encouraged.
    I too believe that surveys based on hearsay are too unreliable to have any merit except as amusement for the media and the dumber members of the public.

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