I recently received my voting paper for the citizen’s referendum. The question posed in the referendum annoyed me and has moved me to write this blog post. The referendum is in result to an amendment to the law in 2007 that has been dubbed the ‘Anti-Smacking Law’. The law was put into place to try to minimize child abuse by removing the defense of ‘reasonable force’ from abusive parents. Unfortunately, I don’t think many people are actually informed about the Act that was passed, and the referendum question is worded to bias people in their voting. The referendum question is: “Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offense in New Zealand?”
My first complaint is with the unnecessary adjective ‘good’; how can ‘good’ parenting be wrong? To see the effect of this word, just try rereading the question by placing a negative adjective in this place such as ‘abusive’.
My second complaint is with the word ‘smack’ in the question. My issue is that this word doesn’t actually appear in the Act at all. In this question it helps conjure up a loving gentle smack on the bottom. The Act was passed to prevent physical assaults on children that would be prosecutable if the child was an adult. So try rereading the question by replacing the word ‘smack’ with ‘physical assault on a child’. Once again it is just a different choice of words, neither of which are in the Act, but they definitely change the question.
So here is my online poll with just those two words modified:
So before voting in the referendum I suggest that you do some further reading to become fully informed. First take a look at the following site: YesVote, and note the organisations that are supporting a Yes vote. I can recommend the following article as a really informative viewpoint. And I also suggest that you read the actual legislation: Section 59 of the Crimes Act.
Please vote Yes in the upcoming poll, and please inform your friends.