Conservatives leader admits smacking kids

Colin Craig. Photo NZ Herald
Colin Craig. Photo NZ Herald
Conservative Party leader Colin Craig says he still smacks his children "just like two-thirds of New Zealand parents''.

The party is a possible coalition partner with the National Party after this year's general election.

Mr Craig told RadioLive today he wanted the issue of repealing the anti-smacking law to be "on the table'' for future negotiations with National.

Asked if he would start smacking his own children if the law was reversed, Mr Craig said: "I occasionally do it right now''.

"Like two-thirds of New Zealand parents I don't go putting the good raising of a child behind a silly law.

"So the silly law is not working for me, it's not working for two-thirds of other New Zealand parents, because they are recognising their job to raise their children as more important.''

He agreed he was breaking the law in smacking his children and said he believed most other parents were doing the same.

"Because they, like me, know that this law is a stupid law, it has not done anything to curb the abuse of children in this country and in fact abuse statistics have continued to rise.''

He pointed to the 2009 referendum on the issue in which 87.4 per cent of the votes answered no to the question "Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?''

Voter turnout in the referendum was 56.1 per cent.

Mr Craig said the law was not working because child abuse rates had risen since 2008.

Mr Craig told APNZ he did not expect any backlash from his admission of smacking his own children.

Polling last year covered the issue of whether the law banning smacking should be changed and two thirds of respondents agreed, he said.

However, he conceded that did not necessarily mean the same numbers of parents were ignoring the law and smacking their children.

In lightly smacking his children, Mr Craig said he was being "consistent'' with the intention of the law.

"I think a lot of parents will see themselves in the same position.''

The law as it stood was too "ambiguous'' because it said police would not prosecute a parent for a smack unless it was in the public interest, Mr Craig said.

''(Prime Minister) John Key said a light smack's okay - well actually legally he's not right.

The law is a light smack's okay if the police deem it's not in the public interest to prosecute.''

He said the physical discipline of his own children was technically against the law if police saw it in the public interest to prosecute.

"And how would I know what they think?''

He said mostly his discipline consisted of "a flick of a finger on the back of a knuckle''.

"It's hurts for a moment,'' he said.

But the vast majority of discipline he used was not physical, he said.



MikeStk: Your statement "I think the law should be blind, you should not be allowed to do any harm to your child that you're not already allowed to do to any other child, or an adult"

The difference is

1) "any other child" only the parent of a child knows what is an appropiate disciplinary action based on their child's previous actions and the effectiveness of alternative punishments 

your own quoted study says " the generalisability of their findings is doubtful and suggests that corporal punishment may only be effective for disobedient and disruptive children",

What is appropiate for one child may not be appropiate for another , so it is only right that you should not be allowed to physically discipline another child without the parents permission.

2) " or an adult" we have courts to enforce laws and limitation that adults should have learnt as children, children are yet to learn these and natural push the boundarys set for them.

As for your quote common sense tells you differently (see links below for real world stats), if that was the case in reality the the majority of our population Would have "aggression, disruptive behaviour , be social pariahs, be criminals and delinquents. be intellectually challenged, and have anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation"

As the majority of our adult population are for the most part well rounded people and the majority of our population prior to the law change have been smacked this doesn't hold true.

Of course there will be some crossover between smacking and these afflictions but there are also people who have never been smacked who suffer the same therefore its equally true that non smacking leads to the same.

Your own article stesses throughout the ambiguty of its data and the problems in divineing relationships between causes and outcomes 

A smack as a punishment should be a punishment of last resort and instead of repeating what I have said in another thread please refer to this

and the stats I give in the comment (which are real world not a sample)

The summary of which is, I support using every other method of discipline first a smack should not be illegal, however casual smacking or smacking without cause should be classed the same as abuse and punished to the full extent of the law. Currently at best the law doesn't work and at worst it may be actually doing harm. A good law has to do more good than harm.


A review of the scientific evidence

Here's a review made of the scientific evidence for and against spanking
- in general it appears to have the opposite effect of what is expected by those who practice it:

"Research on the long-term effects of physical punishment are consistent, and overwhelmingly negative over a wide variety of child development outcomes. The use of physical punishment has been associated with many negative social outcomes, including aggression, disruptive behaviour in school, lack of acceptance by peers, crime and delinquency. Children's cognitive and intellectual development are also adversely affected by parental use of physical punishment. Physical punishment is linked to insecure attachment and poorer relationships between children and parents, and to a variety of mental health problems, such as anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation."

This doesn't mean that everyone who was spanked will turn out bad, just that it's more likely to happen if they are - anecdotal evidence will of course always find contrary cases.

The law should be blind

speedfreak: remember before they passed the law there was that woman in Timaru who got off after horsewhipping her son, claiming it was a her right to administer a "corrective smack".

I think the law should be blind, you should not be allowed to do any harm to your child that you're not already allowed to do to any other child, or an adult. Laying hands on a defenseless child is simply a loss of self discipline, just because your mother did it to you is no reason to follow her gross example and do it to your children, or your dog for that matter.

Getting a bit carried away

Aren't ya Mikestk? There's a big difference between a corrective smack and a beating.

My mother used to use the wooden spoon around my backside, and in hindsight, I deserved every crack I received. She certainly never gave me a beating with it. I have never had to lift a finger against my son as he witnessed me lose my cool after the dog had chewed a 3rd seatbelt (2nd new one at $150 each) the day after I had fitted it.

Strangely, the dog has never chewed anything again, which is a good thing as his priors consisted of 3 mattresses, 2 lazy boys, one 2 seater couch, the top of the back seat in the car and 3 seatbelts. 

There's a lot of truth in the saying, Sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind. 

A successful businessman

A successful businessman does not mean he is a good leader of people and should be representative of this country. 

A successful businessman

A successful businessman does not mean he is a good leader of people and should be representative of this country. 

His views are draconian

I am a parent of 3 boys.  

There are just so many better ways to parent than to smack.  It does not work, sends kids the wrong message and frankly is rather draconian.  A view supported by a vast amount of research and literature.  Uneducated comments from those saying "he or she turned out OK and I smacked him or her" have limited or no basis.  This form of parental correction behavior we must move away from.  NZ has an appalling family violence record.  Perhaps it is because we 'smacked' our children so much.  It is time we grew up as a and stopped out of control parenting behaviour (smacking or violence, same thing) towards our kids (the future).  If we spent time on parent education and teaching our young Mums and Dads how to deal with difficult situations it would help break the cycle of violence that pervades and blights our society today. How many of these parents were smacked as kids....

Self discipline

Boldor: I've raised two kids, without assaulting them once, they've turned out to be well adjusted members of society, just now making their own way in the world. It's not at all obvious to me that I should have ever beaten them.

It certainly takes patience and self discipline to raise kids, it doesn't take cruelty - if you are beating your children to get them to behave the way you want to you're doing it wrong. If you're hitting your kids chances are you, or Mr Craig, don't yourselves have the self discipline or patience that you're trying to beat into your children, or maybe you are just intentionally cruel.

Either way if you have to beat your children to raise them you probably shouldn't have any, the same goes for pets.

You've got my backing Mr Craig

Mikestk no wonder the world is going to hell. It's blatantly obvious some form of punishment is required to for certain acts to maintain some type of order otherwise there will be chaos. This is already starting to show in the behaviour of some children. Good on Mr Craig for keeping firm control of his children, adults are just that - adults - and children should be in no way calling the shots over an adult. The sooner this anti smacking stupidity is gone the better, there's nothing wrong with a slap on the back of the hand or the behind to put them in their place. [abridged]

Colin Craig

Colin Craig's a good family, non "PC"  man who the media have decided to turn on for their latest feedng frenzy. Purely because it "sells papers" and creates "great prime time telly" to throw another normal, rational thinking bloke to the lions. He will never have the red carpet rolled out by "Ellen" or "Opera" because he makes a stand for what most "PC" people feel slightly uncomfortabe with and that is "Truth" 


Smacking Debate

I got smacked by my parents as a child, my sister who was three years older than I, also got smacked.  Along comes my brother seven years after I was born and my parents decided to try the new fangled liberal approach to discipline and adopted an "appeal to the child's reasoning" approach and he never ever got smacked. Result:  He was the worst behaved of us all by the proverbial mile (and we were not natural angels) and had problems in adult life, whereas we grew up fairly well adjusted and seemingly unaffected by the smacking. I smacked my daughter when she misbehaved and in the end I could count the number of smacks I delivered in her entire childhood by the fingers on my one hand because she soon learned that if she misbehaved there would be instant punishment.  She has grown up well adjusted and has a great job and has never taken drugs or got drunk on alcohol. She was not of a naturally disciplined type of personality, but the discipline she learned at home and at a great school has helped her in her adult life, which she herself has now acknowledged.
I know that smacking may sound harsh to some, but life was never meant to be for the faint hearted.


He may practice what he preaches, but so long as he assaults defenseless children in my opinion he's a barbarian and deserves to be in jail rather than in parliament

Colin Craig

This chap really has media upset, now ODT. The APN, Fairfax left-wing messengers have been trying to discredit him for months, along with the hapless wimp Campbell, but to no avail. He is a successful businessman and a winner, so time media realise they are not in the hunt.

Practices what he preaches

Love him or loath him, you can't deny he practices what he preaches, and seems to be about as transparent as any politician I've ever heard of. That alone makes Colin Craig a refreshing change.

As for his claim that 2/3 of parents still smack, I have little doubt he's right. And I've seen it elsewhere that John Key thinks a light smack is within the law. It's certainly not – which is I suspect why the law is being ignored by so many. What use is a law that was forced though by a vocal minority, rejected by a resounding majority during the referendum and is still ignored by so many years later? Surely it's the very definition of bad law.

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