In a recent referendum, respondents overwhelming indicated that they want the law changed so that once again, parents who use a light smack as part of correcting their children have no committed a criminal act. NZ Prime Minister John Key is saying that he takes the referendum outcome seriously, and that he wants to reassure parents that they will not be investigated or prosecuted just for smacking a child. See the story here.
Police and Child Youth and Family officials will be warned to not prosecute parents for lightly smacking their children.
Prime Minister John Key told the Sunday Star-Times in Sydney yesterday he was planning to introduce “increased safeguards” to prevent parents who gave their children “minor” or “inconsequential” smacks from being either investigated or prosecuted.
The PM claims that he actually supports the view of those who voted no.
Mr Key also told TVNZ’s Q&A programme this morning that he agreed with the result. “I agree and support their view there, I think it would be totally inappropriate for a New Zealand parent to be prosecuted for lightly smacking a child.
Here’s the problem: The view of those who completed the referendum is that a smack as part of good parental correction should not be a criminal offence. Unless the law is changed, it will continue to be a criminal offence. To say that it will remain a criminal offence, but police will be advised not to prosecute these criminals, is not to share that view at all.
Criminals should be prosecuted. If a reasonable smack (not a punch, a whipping, a “good hiding,” etc) as part of normal correction should never be prosecuted, then it should not be a crime in law, which it currently is.
Stop being half hearted, Mr Key. If you share the view of the public that a smack should not be a crime, as you claim to, then seek a law change so that a smack is not a crime. It’s not complicated.