The Yes Vote – NZ Referendum on Child Discipline 2009


Aotearoa New Zealand is becoming a place where children are secure, confident, understand limits and boundaries and behave well – without physical punishment.

In 2007, by an overwhelming majority of 113 to 8 votes, Parliament granted children protection from assault by their parents. The law is working well as shown by increased awareness of positive discipline and other nonviolent parenting techniques as well as compassionate and sensible implementation of the law.

The results of the poorly worded referendum of 2009 did not lead to a reversal of the 2007 law, and a Private Members Bill aimed at re-introducing a statutory defence into the Crimes Act was soundly defeated in September 2010.

We can be confident that children are benefiting from the 2007 law change and that parents and the public are coming to see the law as a positive influence on the way children are treated in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Thank you to our supporters for the significant part you played in ensuring a better future for our children. Although the referendum campaign is history there is still a need for positive promotion of the 2007 law and positive non-violent discipline.

Latest News

  • Mission Accomplished - 17 October 2010

    The Yes Vote website will no longer be updating New Zealand news.

    The Yes Vote website was set up before the 2009 referendum on physical punishment of children. Its purposes were to engage support for New Zealand’s law banning physical punishment of children and to share information about related issues. It is now over a year since the referendum and the Crimes (Substituted Section 59) Amendment Act 2007 remains intact.

    A Private Members aimed at overturning the 2007 law by reintroducing a statutory defence into the Crimes Act 1961 was soundly defeated recently in Parliament.

    Police monitoring of the implementation of the 2007 law indicates that the law is being implemented sensitively and sensibly and that there has been no increase in prosecutions of parents for minor and occasional smacking of children. For more information, see the Seventh Review of Police Activity Enactment of the Crimes (Substituted Section 59) Amendment Act 2007.

    The Yes Vote website is an excellent source of information about ending physical punishment of children and the law in New Zealand. It will be kept live as a reference source.

    The website will continue to publish relevant news from New Zealand.

    Thank you again to our supporters!

    The Yes Vote Team

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  • Corporal punishment of children in schools has been illegal in New Zealand for 20 years. Most parents would be outraged if they thought their children could be strapped or caned at the discretion of another adult. They would see this form of punishment as unjust, ineffective, unsafe and a breach of children’s rights.

    In a short news item from Texas. USA, something called a “paddle” is displayed. This is the implement used in some schools to punish children. It looks like a cricket bat and it is said to be capable of causing tissue injury in the recipient. Physical punishment of children in schools is still legal in some, but not all, states in USA.

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  • The Ministry of Social Development have recently published this attractive and readable report called SKIP: What it is and why it works based on research into the SKIP (Strategies with Kids: Information for Parents) initiative.

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  • The Guardian reports:

    The UK will come under increasing pressure to ban all smacking and corporal punishment of children as the European human rights body steps up pressure for a change in the law.

    The Council of Europe – which monitors compliance with the European convention on human rights – will criticise the UK because it has not banned smacking more than 10 years after a ruling in 1998 that the practice could violate children's rights against inhuman and degrading treatment.

    "The campaign to abolish corporal punishment across the Council of Europe is gathering momentum; 20 countries have formally abolished laws allowing it in the past three years," said Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, deputy secretary general of the Council of Europe.

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  • The New Zealand Police released their 6th review of the implementation Crimes (substituted section 59) Amendment Act 2007 on Friday 5th March 2010. It covered the 6th month period 24 June 2009 to December 22nd 2009. You can read the Police media release, or download the full report.

    The report indicates that the number of complaints about smacking and minor acts of physical discipline have remained fairly constant since the law changed. In the recent six month period there were two prosecutions – one for smacking and one for a minor act of physical discipline. Both were resolved by way of Diversion. In the cases were there was no prosecution made many parents were given warnings and a significant number were referred to organisations that could provide or direct families to support and guidance.

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  • Six months have passed since the August 2009 postal referendum on “a smack”. The 2007 amendment to the Crimes Act 1961 that essentially bans the use of force for correction remains intact despite the referendum and extensive lobbying of politicians and the public by “pro-smacking” activists.

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  • New website for children - 13 February 2010

    The Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children has launched a new website for children.

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  • In September 2009 the Swedish Ministry of Health and Social Affairs and Sweden’s Save the Children published Never Violence – Thirty Years on from Sweden’s Abolition of Corporal Punishment, 2009. The report briefly outlines the background of the ban, reports on trends since the 1979 law change and corrects claims made by opponents.

    The full report may be read on the Swedish Government's English language website.

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  • Understanding some of the stresses that parents undergo in parenting children is an important issue that has received little attention in the recent media debate around a US study on the effectiveness of discipline and smacking children.

    The APS Parent guide to helping children manage conflict, aggression and bullying contains useful information about how to manage a child‟s behaviour in an effective way, without being aggressive or unduly punishing the child.

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  • A recent report published by the Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children provides information about world wide progress towards universal prohibition of all corporal (physical) punishment of children.

    [Read More ...]

You can also see older news items in our News section.

Plunket Barnardos Save the Children Unicef Jigsaw Ririki Parents CentrePaediatric Society Womens Refuge Epoch

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