July 31, 2009
A survey of 5263 children has found the majority believe parents who are taken to court for hitting a child should not be let off if they say they were disciplining a child. 52 percent of children said they don’t think adults should be let off. 39 percent said adults should be let off and 9 percent were not sure.
“The views of those who participated in the survey on the child helpline 0800Whatsup, show a range of opinion among children and young people. The majority of comments were in favour of the current law and some callers stated explicitly that parents who hit children should themselves be disciplined for doing so,” said Murray Edridge, Chief Executive of Barnardos New Zealand.
“Many of those who believe that parents should have the right to hit children expressed several conditions applying to this right: hitting should not be excessive, alternatives to hitting should be used, and the use of hitting should be justified by the extent of the child’s misbehaviour. They also showed an awareness that discipline might not be the real motive for hitting.”
Mr Edridge said, “With voting papers going out in the next couple of days it is important for New Zealanders to take into account the views of children, given the affect of corporal punishment on them. It’s clear that a ‘yes’ vote is consistent with the aspirations of children to have legal protection from assault and to be able to live free from violence.”
“Similarly, with research showing there are positive trends away from the use of corporal punishment, a ‘yes’ vote is an expression of support for parents’ choice to not hit their children. Positive, non-violent, parenting is more effective than corporal punishment as well as supporting better long-term outcomes for children and for society. This is something we should all say ‘yes’ to!” he concluded.