By Tim Waggoner

WELLINGTON, NZ, June 23, 2008 ( – A police review shows that New Zealand’s new anti-spanking law has not reduced the number of physical abuse cases against children, but it has deterred good parents from properly disciplining their children.  The report is the result of a three month review that took place directly after the passing of the bill and a separate three month review which was initiated six months later.

New Zealanders are today presenting parliament with a petition calling for the law to be struck down.

Family First NZ National Director Bob McCoskrie explained that the police review, which shows an almost 300% jump in the number of parents being investigated for minor acts of physical discipline since the law was passed, indicates that there has been almost no reduction in actual child abuse incidents.

“The worst aspect is that the number of actual child assaults are now at almost the same rate as before the law change,” he said.

McCoskrie also observed, “When the author of the law change Sue Bradford tells us that the law change was never intended to deal with the epidemic of child abuse and child violence, it is quite obvious that this law change was not about solving a problem – it was about telling parents how to raise their children. And parents who are already doing a great job have responded by saying ‘we’re doing fine thanks.’”

The director of Family First criticized the law for wasting police resources. “What this particular review shows is that police resources are being wasted on attending and investigating smacking and minor acts of physical discipline, yet less than 5% are serious enough to warrant prosecution,” he said.

“We are now also seeing clear evidence of good parents being prosecuted in courts for correcting their children in ways that were promised would not be caught under the new law.”

He concluded, “In other words, the anti-smacking law has failed to stem the tide of child abuse, but has targeted many good parents and grandparents with the trauma and fear of police investigation and CYF involvement. Parents will feel very nervous reading this report, knowing the increasing level of investigations for minor acts.”

New Zealand’s anti-spanking bill was first passed by parliament in May 2007.  The bill essentially tells parents that they are never justified in using force to discipline their children, having eliminated from the Crimes Act the right for a parent to use “reasonable force” when correcting a child.

The bill was widely opposed, which delayed its passage for two years, until an amendment was proposed that gave police the power to deem some complaints against parents as insignificant. The bill eventually passed after both political parties “whipped” their MPs into voting in favor of it.

Family First NZ is presenting the petition against the law to the New Zealand parliament today, invoking authorities to reverse the law.

“The massive response to the petition, combined with recent polls showing 85% support for changing the law, demonstrates just how unpopular the law is. The petition is a simple plea from New Zealanders – don’t criminalize the actions of good parents who are trying to raise law-abiding and productive citizens of the future,” said McCoskrie.