2012 JUST RELEASED
Parents Intend To Continue Flouting Smacking Law – Poll
An independent nationwide poll of parents who have younger children has found that parents are flouting the anti-smacking law, and will continue to do so – despite the potential for prosecution. They also believe that the law has caused a decline in discipline, and has made no difference to the level of actual child abuse.
“The research shows that parents are continuing to use smacking sparingly but when warranted – because it works. The level of use is consistent with research from Waikato University published three years ago. The politicians are still trying to persuade the public, and themselves, that the law will somehow reduce child abuse – a notion rejected by three out of four parents,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
“In effect, the politicians have criminalised an act of parenting which the parents themselves simply don’t equate as a criminal act. Parents are treating the law with contempt.”
A similar poll of parents in 2011 found that a third of parents said that their children have threatened to report them if they were smacked. And almost one in four parents said that they had less confidence when dealing with unacceptable behavior from their children since the anti-smacking law was passed.
• 12% of parents think the law change has made a difference to the level of child abuse in New Zealand.
• Half the parents said the law change had caused a decline in discipline. A further 12% were unsure.
• 81% of parents said they would not report another parent who they saw smacking a child on their backside or hand.
• 56% of parents said they have smacked their child or children since the law change (44% – 2010). Mothers and younger parents are more likely to have smacked.
• 66% of parents said they would smack their child in future despite the law change, if they felt it was appropriate and necessary to correct their behaviour. 28% said they wouldn’t.
• Only 29% of parents said the law should stay as it is.
“Parents are willing to risk investigation and possible intervention in their family by flouting the law. But ultimately, they just want to raise great kids and will use whatever techniques work best at the time. Recent police statistics showed that almost 500 kiwi families have had a police investigation for allegations of smacking or minor acts of physical discipline since the anti-smacking law was passed – yet only 7% of them have been serious enough to warrant charges being laid.”
“Polling in 2009 and 2010 showed that parents were confused by the effect of the law because they have been given conflicting messages by the promoters of the law, legal opinions have contradicted each other, and on top of that there is ‘police discretion’ but not CYF discretion to investigate. And police guidelines state that ‘a prosecution may be warranted if such actions are repetitive or frequent’.”
“Parents have a right to know whether they are parenting within the law or not. This law has just created confusion and as a result, good parents are being victimised and the real causes of child abuse ignored,” says Mr McCoskrie.
Family First is continuing to call on the government to adopt National MP Chester Borrow’s previous proposed amendment. National MP’s were supporting this amendment until they were ‘whipped’ to vote for Sue Bradford’s bill at the last minute in 2007.
A website was established in 2011 to offer legal advice to parents and to highlight cases of families who have been traumatised by the anti-smacking law – www.protectgoodparents.org.nz It also documents why the Prime Minister’s review of the law undertaken by psychologist Nigel Latta was misleading, left out material information, and failed to meet its terms of reference.
The independent poll of 500 parents of younger children (at least one child 12 or under) was undertaken by Curia Market Research on 21/22 March. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 4.5%
Kids Threaten Parents With Anti-Smacking Law – Poll
ONE IN FOUR PARENTS HAVE LOST CONFIDENCE
An independent poll has found that almost a third of parents of younger children say that their children have threatened to report them if they were smacked. And almost one in four of parents of younger children say that they have less confidence when dealing with unacceptable behavior from their children since the anti-smacking law was passed.
“These are disturbing findings, and shows just how damaging the anti-smacking law has been to parents trying their hardest to raise great kids,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
82% want the law changed (77% in 2010)
32% of parents of children under 12 have been threatened by their kids of being reported
1 in 4 parents of children under 12 have lost confidence
Potential 22% gain for political party that promises to amend law
65% support the call for an independent Commission of Inquiry into child abuse
“Politicians should pass laws which support and respect the important role of parents and give them confidence. By passing the anti-smacking law, they have completely undermined the authority of good parents and given children a weapon to use against their parents.”
The independent poll of 1,000 people undertaken by Curia Market Research also found continued strong support for amending the law to decriminalise light smacking for the purpose of correction (82% – up from 77% in 2007) echoing the strong response of the Referendum. Two out of three supported the call for an independent Commission of Inquiry into the wider causes of child abuse and family violence which Family First has repeatedly called for.
“We were not surprised that the level of opposition to the law remains. This was a highly flawed law opposed by an overwhelming majority of NZ’ers, yet rammed through parliament by politicians who were more concerned with their respective party leader’s mandate and the interference of the UN. It was certainly not a conscience vote. If it had been, it would never have passed.”
Of most significance to political parties in an election year is that almost one in three respondents (32%) said that they would be more likely vote for a party that amended the smacking law (up from 22% in 2010) – only 10% said ‘less likely’ (down from 12% in 2010).
“That’s a potential gain of 22% for a political party, which is a significant voter bloc. That would be ignored by a political party at their peril. National benefitted from that significant voter bloc at the last election. This election, other parties may not only promise a law change, but actually deliver on that promise,” says Mr McCoskrie.
The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.2%
Mums Still Smacking.
Want Law Change not Discretion – Poll
MEDIA RELEASE 31 March 2010
Family First NZ says that almost half of our mums of young children have admitted smacking illegally in the past 12 months, and three out of four mums want the government to adopt a law change rather than rely on police (and CYF) discretion.
These are the key finding of research commissioned by Family First NZ. The Curia Market Research poll surveyed 1,000 people, and also found continued confusion over the legal effect of the law.
“This poll confirms that the Prime Minister has not reassured parents. They are still concerned that he is willing to retain a law which he admits is a ‘dog’s breakfast’, badly drafted, extremely vague, and had to whip his MP’s to support.”
“Immediately following the referendum last year, polling showed 52% wanted a law change and 27% supported no law change but greater discretion as suggested by the PM. That has now almost returned to the 80% benchmark of opposition to the law that has been present for the past 5 years.”
Extensive support for a law change across all demographics (4 out of 5 people)
3 out of 4 say the law is not at all likely to help reduce the rate of child abuse
Only 1/3’rd of respondents actually understand the law correctly
45% of mums of under 12’s have smacked illegally in past 12 months
1/4 of mums more likely to vote for political party that commits to changing law
“A law that requires so many compromises, guidelines, helplines, reviews, and parent education could be easily fixed with a simple amendment. That’s what parents deserve, what they want, and what the politicians should respect and act on,” says Mr McCoskrie.
As a result of this poll, Family First is continuing to call on the government to adopt ACT MP John Boscawen’s private members bill which is similar to National MP Chester Borrow’s proposed amendment. National MP’s were supporting this amendment until they were whipped to vote for Sue Bradford’s bill at the last minute.
The poll was conducted between 24 and 28 March 2010 and has a margin of error of +/- 3.2%.
2009 – post Referendum
69% ‘NO’ Voters Want Law Change Not Discretion – Poll
Family First NZ Media Release 13 Oct 09
Family First says that a poll on the response to the anti-smacking Referendum shows huge support for a law change with National and NZ First supporters most in favour, and a political party set to gain up to 12% if they make it a bottom line policy at the next general election.
The poll conducted by Curia Market Research on behalf of Family First NZ surveyed 990 people. 69% of people who voted No in the Referendum said they wanted the law amended to allow light smacking of children by parents for correctional purposes. Only 13% of the entire sample did not want any change to the law.
“The poll shows that NZ’ers are rejecting the ‘comfort’ and reviews being offered by the Prime Minister and simply want a law change so that parents can parent within the law and with certainty,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. “That has been our plea throughout this debate.”
Other findings were:
· 60% of National supporters want the law changed, but only 43% of Labour supporters
· The lower the income of the household, the more likely they wanted a law change
· Of those who voted yes, 50% want more discretion to be instructed
· A party changing the law would have no vote gain in Auckland and a 7% vote loss in Wellington. However, in Christchurch, provincial and rural NZ they could potentially gain between 5% and 12%.
· Current National supporters are a net 8% more likely to vote for a party that changes the law. Current Labour supporters are a net 2% less likely
· Most significantly, a net 13% of undecided voters are more likely to support a party that changes the law.
“Political parties should take notice of this poll and understand that in a ‘representative democracy’, when a party represents the views of an overwhelming number of voters, they will benefit at the polling booth.”
“John Key was correct when he labeled the law ‘a dog’s breakfast’ – a view echoed by most legal opinion – and said that the (Chester) Borrows amendment was the answer. National should now support the John Boscawen amendment under urgency, give legal certainty to law-abiding and great NZ parents, and then start to seriously tackle the real causes of child abuse such as drug and alcohol abuse, family breakdown and dysfunction, and mental illness,” says Mr McCoskrie.
The poll was conducted between 21 September and 6 October 2009 and has a margin of error of +/- 3.2%.
83% Still Want Smacking Law Fixed – Poll
Family First Media Release 18 March 2009
Almost two years after the passing of the controversial anti-smacking law, more than 80% of NZ’ers still want the law changed and 77% say that the law won’t have any effect on our unacceptable child abuse rate.
These are the key finding of research commissioned by Family First NZ, following on from similar research in 2007 and 2008. The Curia Market Research poll surveyed 1,000 people, and also found huge confusion over the legal effect of the law.
83% said that the new law should be changed to state explicitly that parents who give their children a smack that is reasonable and for the purpose of correction are not breaking the law (85% in 2008, 82% in 2007).
83% say the law should be changed – only 13% say to keep it as is
77% says the law won’t help reduce the rate of child abuse in NZ
Less than one third of respondents actually understand the law
“This is essentially the same question that will be put to NZ’ers in the Referendum at the end of July. The government can save $8 million of taxpayer funding towards the cost of running the Referendum during a recession, and amend the law now,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
Respondents were also asked whether the new law makes it always illegal for parents to give their children a light smack. 55% said yes, 31% said no, and 14% didn’t know.
“This proves just how confusing the law is to parents and it is this confusion that is causing huge harm. Parents have been given conflicting messages by the promoters of the law, legal opinions have contradicted each other, and on top of that is police discretion but not CYF discretion to investigate.”
“Parents have a right to know whether they are parenting within the law or not. This law has just created confusion and as a result, good parents are being victimised,” says Mr McCoskrie. “Meanwhile, the rate of child abuse continues. This flawed law must be fixed and the real causes of child abuse confronted.”
The poll was conducted during the week beginning March 9, and has a margin of error of +/- 3.2%.
Smacking Poll – NZ’ers Don’t Want to ‘Move On’
Media Release – 26 May 2008
A year after the passing of the controversial anti-smacking law, opposition to the law change is growing. These are the key finding of research commissioned by Family First NZ, following on from similar research in 2007. The poll surveyed 1,018 people and found continued overwhelming opposition to the new law.
Opposition to the anti-smacking law has increased from 62% last year to 73% now. Only 19% strongly or somewhat agreed with the new law despite the Police discretion clause (down from 29% in June 2007). Almost half of the survey (47%) strongly disagree with the ban on smacking.
85% said that the new law should be changed to state explicitly that parents who give their children a smack that is reasonable and for the purpose of correction are not breaking the law (up from 82% last year).
In a clear message to political parties seeking support for the upcoming election, when asked whether their support for a party would be affected if they promised to change the law, 37% said they would be more likely to vote for that party (up from 31% last year). The number of people whose vote would be unaffected by a policy to change the law decreased from 59% last year to 53% this year.
73% oppose the anti-smacking law (47% ‘strongly disagree’)
85% say the law should be changed
37% say they are more likely to vote for party that promises change to the law
More than half of mothers with children under 12 admit to flouting the law
Of most significance is the finding that almost half (48%) of parents with children under 12 openly admit that they have flouted the law and have given their child a smack to correct their behaviour. Over half of the mums polled (51%) confessed to continuing their use of smacking.
“This result is surprising, and a huge concern to us,” says Mr McCoskrie. “For a new law to be ignored by so many people who are willing to risk a police or CYF investigation indicates just how out of step with reality this law is. NZ’ers have not been fooled by the claims of the anti-smacking lobby that smacking is child abuse, they haven’t been duped by arguments that children are damaged by reasonable smacking, and they have understood that our unacceptable rate of child abuse has far deeper root causes that a loving parent who corrects their child with a smack on the bottom.”
“Good parents have become victims of a badly drafted law.”
When asked whether they thought the new law was likely to help reduce the rate of child abuse in NZ, 79% responded that it was not at all likely (up from 77% last year).
As a result of these survey findings, Family First is calling on MPs to amend the Act, so that the law explicitly states that reasonable smacking for the purpose of correction is not a criminal act. The poll was conducted during the week beginning May 12, and has a margin of error of +/- 3.1%.
Smacking Law Rejected by Majority of NZ’ers –
78% Will Ignore the Law
Family First Media Release 17 JUNE 2007
Research commissioned by Family First NZ and conducted by market research company Curia Market Research. The poll surveyed almost 1,000 people and found continued overwhelming opposition to the new law.
62% strongly or somewhat disagreed with the law despite the Police discretion clause.
82% said that the new law should be changed to state explicitly that parents who give their children a smack
that is reasonable and for the purpose of correction are not breaking the law.
78% of respondents said they would continue to smack
77% responded that the law was not at all likely to help reduce the rate of child abuse in NZ .
31% said they would be more likely to vote for a party if they promised to change the law , 6% less likely,
and the policy would make no difference to 59% of voters