Family First NZ, a New Zealand-based research and advocacy group which led the opposition against the hugely unpopular smacking ban in NZ in 2007, says that the same lies and flawed ideology are being used in Australia as has been used in NZ by the anti-smacking advocates.
“The 2007 UNICEF report on child abuse said that the likelihood of a child being injured or killed is associated with parental drug or alcohol abuse, weak family ties, single-parenthood, low maternal education, low maternal age at birth, poverty, and poor housing,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
“In the 2003 UNICEF report on maltreatment deaths, of the five countries with the lowest child abuse death rates in the UNICEF report, four allowed smacking. Of the ten safest countries for children in the 2007 report, six hadn’t banned smacking.”
“The claim by Dr Olav Nielssen that the rate of child abuse in Sweden after the smacking ban was nil is a complete lie. Morgan Johansson, the Swedish public health minister recently said ‘Every year, eight to ten, sometimes as many as twelve children die in Sweden due to violence. This has been true for several years.’
Mr McCoskrie says that the problem is that the anti-smacking advocates quote discredited Canadian research Joan Durrant, Durrant uses a completely irrelevant definition of child abuse, and excludes the killing of children as a result of neglect, intentional killings, post-natal depression, babies killed within 24 hours of birth, and those accompanied by suicide by the abuser. She has adopted a definition by Somander and Rammer (1991) which also excludes child deaths due to poverty, marital conflicts, alcohol abuse, sparing the child the kind of life led by the perpetrator, and giving no reason for killing the child.
“This is why she has misrepresented the effect of the Swedish smacking ban on child abuse rates. Even UNICEF reports have ignored her definition and Australians would do well to ignore these outlandish statements also,” says Mr McCoskrie.
After the smacking ban in Sweden, child abuse increased 489% in the 13 years following ban, and assaults by kids against kids increased 672%. A Swedish government report in 2000 said ‘we see no tendency to a decrease in bullying at school or in leisure time during the last 20 years’.
“The smacking ban in NZ has done more harm than good with a 30% increase in parents being referred to social agencies yet a decrease in cases warranting further investigation. And the child abuse rate continues unabated,” says Mr McCoskrie. “No decent research shows a smack by a loving parent breeds violence.”
“That’s why a petition signed by over 300,000 kiwis has forced a referendum on the issue, and polls show that around 80% of NZ’ers continue to oppose the anti-smacking law.”
“NZ’ers want laws which target rotten parents who abuse their children, but doesn’t criminalise good parents who use a non-abusive smack as part of correction,” says Mr McCoskrie. “I would assume most Australians would agree with this. It’s time we targeted the real causes of child abuse but we need an honest and factual debate on the issue.”