August 21, 2009
“Barnardos New Zealand continues to support the child discipline law as the best option for New Zealand because it sets a clear standard that children should be allowed to live free from violence,” Barnardos Chief Executive Murray Edridge said tonight.
“The referendum did not ask a direct question about people’s acceptance or otherwise of the law. It suggested that hitting children was good parenting practice and that ‘good’ parents are being criminalised when neither is true. Because of this, we are aware that some people preferred to abstain from voting even though they strongly support the current law.
“As such, the referendum doesn’t provide any clear mandate for change. We urge Members of Parliament to wait for the outcome of the review of the law because it will deal with the facts and provide an objective and dispassionate view of how the law is working.
“Change to the law should not be considered now but rather an ongoing monitoring programme should be established – using sound measures to monitor the law’s impact and effects. There should also be increased public education about the law and positive, non-physical discipline.
“The referendum was a great opportunity for Barnardos, and the long list of other credible agencies working with children and families, to better inform people about the law and about positive parenting. Research is showing that growing numbers of parents recognise there is no need to use physical punishment and the law is consistent with this shift in public attitudes and behaviour.
“We are pleased that 11 percent of the votes expressed support for the law and we are confident that over time even higher numbers of Kiwis will acknowledge the need for the law as it now stands,” concluded Mr Edridge.