Media Release 20 April 2013
Family First NZ says that a study just published shows that smacking does no harm as long as the child knows it is for the right reasons and feels loved – contrary to politicians in New Zealand criminalising these parents.
The study of teenagers by a team from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, and published in the journal Parenting: Science and Practice, found the effects of discipline – such as verbal threats or smacking – are offset by the child’s feeling of being loved. The researchers said being punished is unlikely to result in antisocial behaviour further down the line, as long as the child believes their punishment is coming from “a good place”.
“Maternal warmth protected adolescents from the negative effects of harsh discipline such that, at higher levels of maternal warmth, there was no relation between harsh discipline and externalising problems.”
“Attachment theory suggests that warm, responsive parenting is the critical factor in producing securely attached children who, in turn, develop positive secure internal working models of their parents. Children then interpret subsequent parental behaviors, including discipline attempts, through the context of a warm and secure parent–child relationship. Mothers high on warmth demonstrate positive affect and supportive and accepting behaviors which promote a stable and global belief in the child that their parents love them.”
It also says anti-smacking policies are problematic because they contradict many adults’ own childhood experiences with discipline and their long-term outcomes, and this study demonstrates one condition under which discipline does not result in negative outcomes for the child in later life.
“This study joins what the researchers refer to as ‘emerging theoretical and empirical evidence’ which challenges the academic and political view that smacking is child abuse and should be banned. The people of New Zealand were able to figure that out. Unfortunately our politicians couldn’t,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
A recent survey of 1,000 NZ’ers found that three out of four people back a law change to allow “correctional” smacking of children. They were also asked whether they would still smack their child to correct behaviour, despite the law. Two out of three respondents, or 68 per cent, said they would.