The blog of Dr Glenn Andrew Peoples on Theology, Philosophy, and Social Issues

The anti-smacking law: Only a law change is morally acceptable


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.

Glenn Peoples


But the associations will perish if we don't force people to join!


John Key, the Anti-Smacking law, and the New Zealand Constitution


  1. wu tang

    It must suck arse to never have a comment after spouting this crap?
    Why are you so keen to smack kids? Try teaching them instead of hitting them

  2. wu tang, have you ever heard of a false dichotomy? Sounds like you have just appealed to one.

    (Oh, and no, it doesn’t suck, because I can see the site stats, and I see how many people are reading “this crap.” 😉 )

  3. If I find myself before a court or investigated by the police or a state agency it is the black letter of the law I should be able to reach for to know whether I stand on the side of guilt or innocence not some pamphlet or tv campaign or media release or letter regardless of what crime I am accused of.

    The state has a duty to ensure that the law is clear enough for the citizens to be able to understand it; if it is not it is not then it is not just to demand their obedience to it.

    Governments come and go, interpretations and directives can be adjusted, this is why if this government does not intend for a light smack to be illegal it must make that clear at law.

  4. Precisely Madeleine.

  5. Thanks 🙂

    I have put the letter I sent cabinet last night on my blog here, Dear Cabinet.

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