Referendum results released

The negative outcome of the referendum was inevitable given the confusing and leading question it asked and its timing so soon in the life of the new law.  The preliminary outcome released last night showed an 87% no vote outcome.  Only 54% of potential voters actually took part in the postal refeendum.  There will have been some who did not participate because they objected to the question.  Others may have been  cofused by the question and given an unintended answer.

While it has been divisive, expensive and unnecessary the referendum has not been without value.

Its value lies in the opportunity it made to encourage thinking people to review the use of physical punishment and the negative place of violence in shaping our children’s behaviour.

In 2007, when the law changed, there was already an impressive expression of support for change from people who saw the importance of having one standard in law about assault for all New Zealanders.  They knew about the value of encouraging positive non-physical discipline.  Over the last year we have seen support for the law grow among editors and opinion writers, pediatricians, academics, psychologists, socail workers, religious leaders and many others.  The YesVote website holds a very impressive list of organizations that look past the referendum question and express support for New Zealand’s stand in law.

Smackers will now call vigorously for the return of a supposed right to “smack” within the law.  In doing so they will be ignoring the reality of many children in New Zealand whose experience of physical discipline is still far harsher and more damaging than a smack”.

The referendum result is non-binding.  EPOCH New Zealand urges politicians to resist pressure to change the law and instead ensure that the law’s impact continues to be monitored and reported on and to provide more information to parents on the law and positive discipline.