New Zealand ‘proof’ smacking ban does not work, Welsh Conservatives say

Darren Millar. Picture by the National Assembly.

New Zealand’s smacking ban is proof that the measure should not be introduced in Wales, according to the Welsh Conservatives.

Darren Millar AM pointed to a nationwide poll in New Zealand that showed that 51% of New Zealanders believed that the 2007 anti-smacking law there caused a decline in discipline.

The poll carried out at the beginning of last December also indicated that almost 40% of mothers of young children say they have smacked despite the law change.

70% also said they would not report a parent who they saw smacking their child on the backside or hand.

Darren Millar was speaking ahead of the this week’s debate in the Welsh Parliament on the Children (Abolition of the Defence of Reasonable Punishment) (Wales) Bill – which would introduce a smacking ban in Wales.

He said that if passed it would “result in the criminalisation, potentially, of tens of thousands of decent, loving parents across Wales who use the occasional smack to discipline their children”.

In September a majority of AMs voted to back the principle of ending “reasonable punishment” as a defence for assaulting children – with 35 for, and 15 against.

The Tory and Brexit Party voted against the legislation, with Plaid Cymru, Labour and the Liberal Democrats backing it.

 

‘Public opinion’

“This latest poll from New Zealand is further evidence that smacking bans do not work. Thirteen years after a ban was introduced in New Zealand, this poll indicates that it is having no effect on child abuse rates, and may actually be doing more harm than good,” Darren Millar said.

“As I have previously stated when objecting to the Welsh Labour Government’s plans, parenting is tough enough as it is, so instead of punishing loving mums and dads, we should be supporting them and providing universal access to positive parenting courses which promote alternatives to smacking as a form of discipline.

“The public in Wales don’t want this legislation. Whenever public opinion has been tested, the response has been very, very clear, and that is: the overwhelming majority, between two thirds and three-quarters of people, do not believe that a smacking ban should be introduced.

“We already have comprehensive legislation in place that the police, social services and others use to deal with child abuse and those who break them should feel the full weight of the law. 

“Most parents who use the occasional smack do so within the confines of a loving relationship with the child who they want to raise to be a responsible adult and someone who can contribute to society usefully in the future.

“The Welsh Government should abandon these unpopular plans.”

Speaking in September, deputy health minister Julie Morgan argued for the law by saying there was nothing more important than protecting vulnerable children.

“I can never accept that it is ever acceptable for a big person to hit a little person,” the Labour Cardiff North AM said.

“I think this is a landmark bit of legislation and I will be very proud if this Welsh parliament passes it.”

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Gregor Benton
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Gregor Benton

The Tories learn their sadomasochism at public school and then inflict it on the rest of us. Thank god they are a political death legion, in their existential death throes demographically

John Ellis
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John Ellis

Don’t bet on it! Being of that generation myself, I’m especially reminded that a very significant proportion of the present ‘gammon generation’ came to maturity, as I did, in the ‘let it all hang out’ swinging sixties Summer of Love era. That doesn’t appear to have stuck, and I’ve a lurking feeling that later generations may morph similarly as they age!

John Ellis
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John Ellis

I’m conflicted on this one. Before retirement I worked in an area where it wasn’t uncommon in the shopping precinct to encounter snarling parents taking side-swipes at their baleful or bawling kids with cries of ‘Gerrere, yer little b@st@rd and I’ll lam yer!’ I used to think ‘Gawd, I’m glad I don’t have to live in their house. Or even next door to it’. Yet while I don’t usually find much common cause with Darren Millar, who is my local constituency AM, I’m uneasy about the law intruding too far into routine domestic family life. When Millar argues that “we… Read more »

Joe Todd
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Joe Todd

Its important for older folks to realise that in the 21st century parents no longer routinely hit their children. Police and other services spend millions on ‘investigating’ which is intrusive, stigmatising and frequently inconclusive .If physical chastisement is defined as assault and not discipline it will provide clarity for politicians and parents as well as for those who have to make tough decisions about child protection .

John Ellis
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John Ellis

I’m not overly interested in what ‘most people’ think or do. Sheep follow the herd; rational human beings don’t, or at least shouldn’t. There ought to be at least some scope for autonomy.

John Evans
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John Evans

scope for autonomy in this case is scope for the worst excesses of physical violence – so john and joe do you think it is acceptable to hit children – call you out.

John Ellis
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John Ellis

With moderation, yes I do.

jr humphrys
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jr humphrys

A year ago, in Turku, I saw someone sort of lift a kid up and smack him behind the knees. I said to my wife “didn’t think Finns hit their kids”. As they came towards us, I heard “and now you better behave”.
Oh dear.

John Ellis
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John Ellis

Two days later I’ve just read the following on the ‘Nation Cymru’ news thread: ‘The Bill’s sole goal is to remove a defence of corporal punishment in any criminal or civil proceedings where someone is accused of assaulting a child – so it’s not a “ban” on smacking; it means that if you assault a child in a manner that results in a court case you can’t use smacking/punishment as a defence.’ I think this puts a rather different complexion on this news report, in that the news thread today appears to make it clear that the change contemplated is… Read more »

Alwyn J Evans
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Alwyn J Evans

An opinion is not proof. A thousand opinions, is still not proof.

The crime rate of under 12s in New Zealand has halved since 2007 when they introduced the smacking ban. Are they related? Who knows. Maybe the AM should invest time in exploring data and not relying on opinion as proof.

Walter Hunt
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Walter Hunt

Agreed. Parents, teachers and wider society have traditionally been responsible for the social adjustment of children and facilitating the transition to the responsibilities of adulthood. For too many children today it’s the internet and gangs. So what is responsible parenting in the 21st century and what is the role for wider society? Unfortunately, what we get is opinion which divides predictably along political lines.

jr humphrys
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jr humphrys

I suspect he’d rather like to smack us.

Simon Gruffydd
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Simon Gruffydd

There are laws against abusing children. But it boils down to what you define as ‘abuse’. I agree with Darren on this one. I’d call this government overreach. The effects of this law are sure to increase social division and mistrust among each other. Bad effects caused by good intentions? Or is the desire to control the behaviour of others too alluring to pass up on?

Clive Bradley
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Clive Bradley

This is obviously some highly specialized use of the word “proof” of which I was was previously unaware.

John Evans
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John Evans

no question – the last area where the law fails to protect children. Why is it not ok for me to slap an adult but its good to do it to a child. Honestly though – an opinion poll is not scientific data – ‘it’s just your opinion dude’. There are better ways .

John Ellis
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John Ellis

The difference is that you have no parental role or responsibility in respect of an adult, whereas both legally and customarily you have a very definite one in respect of your own children.

Tommy
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Tommy

https://images.app.goo.gl/papmXgdV83MMxbyy6
Teaching children that hitting them is for their own good. Leads to adults who hit their others; for their own good ; see what you made me do.
Teach your children by example. Stop hitting people to get your own way.