To smack or not to smack

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Positive parenting instead of using a heavy hand with kids will help reduce Queenstown’s family violence statistics, according to a children’s advocacy group.

Barnardos, which has recently set up a permanent local office at St Peter’s Church, is a longstanding supporter of the anti-smacking law – and the related nationwide referendum that closes tomorrow.

At a time when local domestic violence levels are at record highs, the need for “positive parenting strategies” is crucial, Barnardos child advocate Sandra B’Divine says.

“We are talking about consistency and consequences, reasoning and explanation and rules and boundaries – which actually require a lot of thoughtful, loving consideration,” she says. “Quite often, parents smack because they’re at their wits’ end and then they feel bad for it. It’s counter-productive.”

Many parents are worried that with the new legislation they’ll be prosecuted for a light smack, Barnardos’ new Queenstown child advocate Maria Hendry says.

B’Divine adds: “It’s a discipline we want to remove from the tool kit and replace it with positive parenting. A smack can escalate … parents can get carried away and children end up getting injured emotionally and physically”.