For your common sense and principle on the smacking issue.
It does seem inappropriate to be stampeded by a referendum in which the potential victims (and by that I mean the children, not the parents!) have no say.
The best analysis I’ve seen of the post-referendum situation comes from Gordon Campbell, former Listener journalist, writing for Scoop.co.nz. Says Campbell, in part:
“Legitimising violence against children – even the so called ‘loving’ kind of violence that supposedly does them so much good – is a serious thing. However, it seems bizarre that New Zealand should be spending more energy on whether children can be properly disciplined than on whether they get enough food to eat, or can read properly, Reason being, this dispute has little to do with the wellbeing of children. It is all about parents, and their freedom to do as they see fit and proper. Hitting your kids is seen by many as a basic property right.
… Along the way, the referendum deliberately begged the question it was purporting to test – in that under no current law, and under no current police practice, are good parents being criminalized for the reasons we have just spent $9 million to denounce.
… How can the government basically do nothing, while still placating a large number of the voting public? Well, last time it did very well indeed out of focusing on Police guidelines. It could try that route again. It could tell the Police to exercise Extra Super Duper Size Discretion in future about smacking complaints, rather than just the Family Size Discretion they’ve shown so far. That might be enough.”
And for all practical purposes, this is the route PM Key is taking on what Campbell calls “the science fiction scenario of good parents getting hauled off to court for a tap on the arm.” Key is saying: show me a real problem and then I’ll fashion a relevant solution.
Soon Mr Key will need to contend with another issue associated with violence … Kiwis’ abuse of alcohol. When he ultimately is called upon to embrace the kind of strong measures recommended by the Law Commission and other experts, I hope he and his party will show the same resolve.