Has Labour done a U-turn on smacking?

On Sunday 12th April Phil Goff responded to the question “Should a smack as part of good parenting be a criminal offence in NZ? put by Paul Holmes on the programme Q and A.  He answered “no” but reworded his response to say that he did not think parent should be prosecuted for a smack.

In response to a question whether the “anti-smacking” law should be changed Mr Goff said very clearly that it did not need to be revoked.  Hardly a u-turn!

What is the solution to giving children equal protection in law from assault as adults, setting a standard in law that does not endorse any form of violence to children and at the same time avoiding prosecution of parents for minor assaults?  Such prosecutions are not in the child or the parents’ interests because of the stress and disruption prosecution would cause.  As with children punishment is never the best line of intervention anyway.

The Crimes (Substituted Section 59) Amendment Act contained a provision reminding Police that they have discretion not to prosecute when it would not be in the public interest to do so.  Regular reports on Police activity since law change indicate that parents are not being prosecuted for a simple smack.  This provision and guidelines for the Police about its application are sensible solutions to the dilemma.