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New Zealand parties reach compromise on smacking law

New Zealand parties reach compromise on smacking law

New Zealand's main political parties agreed yesterday to support reforms that outlaw child beating but do not criminalize parents who use "inconsequential" force - such as a disciplinary smack - against their children.
More than 1,000 people, mostly conservative Christians, protested outside Parliament as debate on the so-called anti-smacking bill was held, arguing that it impinges too far into the lives of families. Nearby, Anglicans held a vigil in support of the bill, saying it would protect children.
But lawmakers looked likely to overwhelmingly support the changes - which close a legal loophole that currently protects parents charged with child beating - after the governing Labor Party and main opposition National Party reached a compromise.
The new law will make it an offense for parents to use force to discipline their children.
But under the compromise, police would have discretion "not to prosecute complaints ... involving the use of force against a child where the offense is considered so inconsequential there is no public interest in proceeding with a prosecution," the bill says.
"Nobody wants to see those parents marched off (for giving a child) a light tap in the supermarket," New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark told National Radio.
The amendment means the bill would probably pass with a substantial majority, Clark said.
"We think we've ... allayed any concern from ordinary, decent parents trying to bring up kids," she said.


Updated : 2021-05-17 03:46 GMT+08:00