New Zealanders Vote for More Smacking
August 21, 2009 2:52 AM Subscribe
New Zealand voters want to smack their children.
posted by pivotal (94 comments total)
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1.4 million New Zealanders (87.6% of votes cast) have voted "No" to the question "Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?". Regardless of opinion, this seemingly innocent question has been steeped in controversy. Voters have been confused, ambivalent
, and perhaps misunderstood the law
. The Prime Minister indicated he would ignore the result
, and even the referendum initiators (intent on legalising smacking for corrective purposes) are divided on what the result means
, some wanting explicit rights to use wooden spoons.
Two years ago, New Zealand law was modified to remove the defence of "reasonable force" for assault on a child - bringing it into line with the UNICEF Convention on the Rights of the Child
. In its place, the law
provides for "justifiable force" for specific reasons (preventing harm, criminal offence, poor behaviour). The law explicitly denies the right to use physical punishment to "correct" children (think "correctional facility" - using force to correct children after the fact).
Despite these facts, lobbyists have tagged the law change as "anti-smacking", incorrectly implying that it denies any right to use physical force. The non-binding referendum intends to add permission for corrective smacking, but is seen by many as an overall vote of no-confidence in the law change. As such, the PM is openly ambivalent
about the result, raising the ire
of other politicians.