Parents and smacking

Martin Johnston at NZ Herald reports:

A survey indicates there has been an increase in the number of parents who choose not to smack their children, in line with the controversial “anti-smacking law” implemented in 2007.

The survey was commissioned by conservative lobby group Family First from Curia Market Research, a firm headed by centre-right blogger David Farrar.

It is based on responses from 500 parents of children aged less than 12. It found that 44 per cent reported never smacking their children since the 2007 legislative change to remove the Crimes Act defence of “reasonable … force” for parents who hit their children to correct them.

Twenty-nine per cent told Curia they had smacked rarely since the change, 21 per cent said occasionally, 1 per cent said frequently and 5 per cent were unsure or refused to answer.

The full results are on the Family First website.

The never-smacked figure was higher than found in a 2009 Herald-DigiPoll survey of parents of 4-year-olds.

That poll found that 39 per cent of mothers and 33 per cent of fathers never smacked – and that was more than three-fold higher than the rate during the four decades to 1997.

I’d be a bit careful comparing a poll of parents of four year olds and a poll of parents of children aged from zero to 11 years old. I would suspect that the older the children the less likely parents are to smack.

This is not to say that the “never smacked” figure may not be increasing. It may or may not be. But one would want to compare data of parents of same aged children to be able to say if there is a trend.

Survey findings

66 per centof parents would “smack to correct in future”

44 per centhad not smacked their children since the 2007 law change

49 per cent think law change “caused decline in discipline”

81 per cent would not report someone for smacking

63 per cent think law should be changed to allow hand smacks

75 per cent say 2007 law change has not changed New Zealand’s level of child abuse

One interesting aspect was the views of parents on whether the law change has caused a decline in disciple. Only 42% of parents living in areas in the top three (least deprived) deciles said it had, but 59% of those in the bottom three deciles (most deprived)  said it had caused a decline discipline.

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