Archive for the ‘NZ Media’ Category

NZ First Promised Anti-Smacking Law Referendum

Friday, October 20th, 2017

media release


20 October 2017

NZ First Promised Anti-Smacking Law Referendum
Family First NZ says that if a referendum is going to be held on legalising dope as requested by the Green party, then NZ First should also be delivering a referendum on the anti-smacking law, based on statements made by leader Winston Peters and NZ First before the election.


In a speech in March in Northland, leader Winston Peters said; “We are going to repeal the anti-smacking law which doesn’t work and has in fact seen greater violence towards children.” He then further clarified his position in an interview on Newstalk ZB saying that this matter should go to a referendum with New Zealand people who are “far more reliable and trustworthy on these matters, rather than a bunch of temporarily empowered parliamentarians.” This position was backed up by senior MP Tracey Martin.


“NZ First is now in a position to be able to protect good parents and put the focus where it should be – on rotten parents and actual abuse. The politicians and anti-smacking lobby groups linked good parents who smacked their children with child abusers, a notion roundly rejected – and still rejected – by NZ’ers. The anti-smacking law assumes that previous generations disciplined their children in a manner that was so harmful that they should now be considered criminals,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.


(In 2014, NZ First saidNZ First policy is to repeal the anti-smacking law passed by the last parliament despite overwhelming public opposition. Accordingly, we will not enter any coalition or confidence and supply agreement with a party that wishes to ignore the public’s clearly stated view in a referendum on that issue.”)



For More Information and Media Interviews, contact Family First:


Mob. 027 55 555 42

Smacking Law Still Rejected, Widely Flouted – Poll

Thursday, January 5th, 2017

Almost a decade on from the passing of the controversial anti-smacking law, a poll has found continued widespread rejection of the law and an admission that 2 out of 3 NZ’ers would flout the law if they believed it reasonable to correct the behaviour of their child.

“Despite having almost 10 years to prove the doubters wrong, the law has failed to convince anybody of its benefits or its effectiveness. In fact, the law has maintained its very high level of opposition, but most significantly, a high level of NZ’ers say they would flout the law despite the possible consequences. This proves the abject failure and rejection by ordinary NZ’ers of this highly controversial and flawed law. If it had any merit, it would have proved itself by now. Instead it has simply threatened and undermined good parents raising great kids,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

smacking-mail-chen-review-if-i-see-mai-chen“It’s time for the politicians to fix this law. One of the most significant things the new Prime Minister of the country Bill English could do is change the approach of his predecessor and respect the views of the NZ public and amend this law.”

In the independent poll of 846 people undertaken by Curia Market Research, only 23% of respondents believe a smack that is reasonable and for the purpose of correction should be a criminal offence – similar to levels in a 2014 poll. 72% disagree with the current law (72% – 2014) and 5% were unsure / refused to say. Opposition to the law was highest in provincial and rural areas, amongst current parents of children under 18, and National and NZ First supporters.

In a further question, 65% of respondents say they would smack their child to correct their behaviour regardless of the anti-smacking law. 28% said they wouldn’t, and 7% were unsure or refused to say. NZ First supporters were most likely to flout the law.

“A report at the beginning of last year analysing the 2007 anti-smacking law, “Defying Human Nature: An Analysis of New Zealand’s 2007 Anti-Smacking Law”, found that there was not a single social indicator relating to the abuse of children that had shown significant or sustained improvement since the passing of the law, and that the law has negatively impacted law-abiding parents.

Police statistics show there has been a 136% increase in physical abuse, 43% increase in sexual abuse, 45% increase in neglect or ill-treatment of children, and 71 child abuse deaths since the law was passed in 2007. CYF have had more than 1 million notifications of abuse and there has been a 42% increase in physical abuse found by CYF since 2007. And health data reveals a 132% increase in children diagnosed with emotional and/or behavioural problems and a 71% increase in children hospitalised with mental and behavioural disorders since 2007.

An analysis of the law in 2014 by Public Law Specialists Chen Palmer said that statements made by politicians to the effect that the new section 59 does not criminalise “good parents” for lightly smacking their children appear to be inconsistent with the legal effect of section 59 and the cases they analysed.

“New Zealanders predicted all of this before the law was passed, but their concerns were ignored. The politicians and anti-smacking lobby groups linked good parents who smacked their children with child abusers, a notion roundly rejected – and still rejected – by NZ’ers. The anti-smacking law assumes that previous generations disciplined their children in a manner that was so harmful that they should now be considered criminals,” says Mr McCoskrie.

Family First NZ continues to call for the government to adopt the ‘Borrows amendment’ which allows non-abusive smacking and which the National party had previously lobbied and voted for.

The nationwide poll was carried out during November and has a margin of error of +/- 3.4%.


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Child Abuse Rates Like A “Terminal Cancer” For NZ

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014



12 February 2014

Child Abuse Rates Like A “Terminal Cancer” For NZ

Family First NZ says that the statistics in the Salvation Army Report related to child abuse in New Zealand represent a terminal cancer desperate for aggressive treatment.

“The report makes grim reading and is a wake-up call that children will never be safe until we are honest enough as a country to tackle the root causes of child abuse – especially rotten parents,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“They also confirm that the anti-smacking law has been a complete failure which has simply wasted valuable time and resource of agencies distracted from dealing with actual child abuse and dysfunctional parents.”

The Salvation Army report shows the horrifying statistics: In the past five years, between 2008 (just after the anti-smacking law was passed) and 2013:

  • recorded offences of violence, sexual assaults and neglect of children rose 68%; more serious child assaults have increased by 83%
  • recorded sexual offences against children rose 43% and child neglect rose by 42%
  • notifications to CYF have risen 66% (nearly 60,000 higher)
  • cases of substantiated child abuse or neglect rose by 41% over the past five years

“The rates of child abuse are a national disgrace, and it’s time that we stopped beating around the bush about its causes. We must tackle head-on the issues of alcohol and drug abuse, family dysfunction and breakdown, declining marriage rates, and violence in our media and culture. It’s also essential that we remove political posturing and point-scoring from the process. Since the passing of the much-vaunted anti-smacking law, the rate of child abuse deaths has continued unabated,” says Mr McCoskrie.

““We must stop tip-toeing around these issues. We must take pro-active action and tackle head-on the difficult issues as well as mental illness, low maternal age, and other key factors identified by UNICEF and CYF reports.”

“The Salvation Army report is a wake-up call that things are not getting better – they’re getting far worse.”


For More Information and Media Interviews, contact Family First:

Bob McCoskrie – National Director

Mob. 027 55 555 42

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Anti-Smacking Studies Ignore Equal Harm From Other Corrective Actions – Study

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014


11 February 2014

Anti-Smacking Studies Ignore Equal Harm From Other Corrective Actions – Study

A review of studies which have been critical of smacking as a corrective tool have revealed an inherent bias and can lead to unjustified and misguided prevention programmes and policy decisions, which could ultimately harm children.

The peer-reviewed study from Oklahoma State University titled “Making Valid Causal Inferences About Corrective Actions by Parents from Longitudinal Data”, and published in the December 2013 edition of the Journal of Family Theory & Review referred to three recent studies of 12 disciplinary tactics that parents could use instead of spanking. They found that

no disciplinary tactic was ever associated with reduced child behaviour problems, and 7 of the 12 tactics predicted significantly worse behaviour problems in at least one analysis.

Other studies showed that expressing disappointment and yelling or scolding were associated with as many significantly adverse outcomes as smacking, and time-out and shaming were also significantly associated with internalising problems. Psychotherapy for children and using Ritalin for ADHD appear just as harmful as smacking when using the best research methods used in anti-smacking studies.

The study argues that selection bias taints the conclusions of most studies which criticise smacking. They say:

Parents are less likely to use corrective actions when children do well in school.. do not smell of tobacco smoke, are not at risk for precocious sex, demonstrate trustworthiness with non-deviant peers, are cooperative, and respond well to reasoning. Quite simply, parents do not need to use corrective actions when there are no problems to correct.

They say that this bias hinders discriminations between more versus less effective corrective actions and promotes a tendency to make absolute conclusions against corrective actions.

They conclude that studies which criticise smacking all failed to investigate alternative disciplinary tactics that parents could use in similar disciplinary situations.

Instead, these studies implicitly compared high spanking (smacking) frequency versus doing nothing.. Doing nothing, however, is not an acceptable option when parents are dealing with defiance or dangerous behaviour… Before spanking can be discounted as a viable disciplinary tactic, it needs to be compared with alternatives such as time-out which parents could use in similar disciplinary situations. The failure to make such comparisons has undermined the scientific basis for alternatives to recommend to parents when spanking is proscribed, thus undermining the success of spanking bans.

“It is time we targeted rotten parents who are abusing their children, rather than good parents who choose to use a smack as part of their parenting tool box when raising great kids,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

Link to Study:


For More Information and Media Interviews, contact Family First:

Bob McCoskrie – National Director

Mob. 027 55 555 42

Description: Family First NZ logo

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Cases Reveal CYF Ignoring Intent of Anti-Smacking Law

Monday, June 18th, 2012


19 June 2012

Cases Reveal CYF Ignoring Intent of Anti-Smacking Law

Family First NZ has released further cases highlighting how the anti-smacking law is being used to criminalise and persecute good parents.

“These cases add to the extensive list of cases already listed on the website and our documentary “My Mummy’s A Criminal” highlighting five families and the inaccuracies of the Prime Ministerial review led by Psychologist Nigel Latta,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“These latest cases show a disturbing trend. Not only are police resources being wasted on investigating ‘smacking’ allegations, but Child Youth and Family (CYF) are ignoring the intent of the law and are removing children from good homes where the parents may use a smack, are failing to adequately investigate the background of families before uplifting children and traumatising families, and are refusing to place children with extended family who may use a smack even when CYF acknowledge the expertise and safety of the parents. They are also ignoring the fact that in many cases, the police are seeing no reason to prosecute.”

At the time of the law being passed, Prime Minister John Key said “Good parents want to have confidence that they will not be criminalised by this legislation if they give their children a light smack. It sends a strong signal that the level of violence against children in our society is unacceptable, but at the same time gives parents confidence that they will not be criminalised for carrying out their normal parenting duties.”

“The law was always sold to the public by pretending that non-abusive smacking would not result in a visit by the police or a social worker to remove the children. But the cases released today – and previously – show the exact opposite is happening,” says Mr McCoskrie. “Parenting has been put on trial in New Zealand, and they have every right to be concerned about a flawed, confusing, and badly applied law.”

“It is significant that the ‘discretion’ clause only applied to police and not CYF. At least with the police, parents get to have their day in court to defend themselves – even if it means going all the way to the Court of Appeal as one of our cases highlights. But with CYF, they are unaccountable to the families.”

Family First continues to call on politicians to adopt the ‘Borrows’ amendment which did not ban smacking but which clearly stated what was abusive and what was not. This has been successfully used in other jurisdictions such as the UK and Australia.


For More Information and Media Interviews, contact Family First:

Bob McCoskrie – National Director

Mob. 027 55 555 42

You thought it was all over? Think again.


Mum and dad – who are now grandparents – currently have custody of their daughter’s 8 year old son. They have had him since he was 3 months old. CYF also gave them custody of their niece (13). Their daughter had another child (girl) who was taken by CYF from the daughter at 9 months old. Mum and dad applied for custody of this 17 month old granddaughter. Mum has been an approved caregiver for 13 years supporting various whanau. CYF actually asked mum to have the granddaughter, and when they applied, the social worker indicated that they would be approved. They also went to the 8 year old’s school and interviewed him. Two social workers who interviewed mum and dad before the formal approval were very affirming and said that “this is the perfect home” for the 2 year old, and that the 8 year old is “a happy healthy boy – no problem with him.” However, during the interview, mum and dad admitted that if methods of correction such as time-out, withdrawal of privileges, and other consequences for defiant and unacceptable behaviour didn’t work, she might use a smack on the hand with a half-size wooden spoon. The two social workers – both who had just recently graduated – then said that the grandparents would not be able to have the granddaughter. A letter confirming this decision was sent, saying that the reason for not letting the granddaughter stay with her grandparents was because of “the disciplining methods and unwillingness to change these”.


Nana applied to have custody of her two grandnephews A(5) and B(3). She had been a caregiver with CYF previously, caring for nine children over a number of years. Her two great-nephews had been in foster care all their life and had been moved throughout various whanau unsuccessfully. CYF acknowledged that they had both medical and behavioural difficulties but offered support to Nana. They closely monitored Nana’s caregiving for a number of weeks before they formally assigned custody to Nana. Their behaviour was a challenge for Nana including incidences of climbing on the roof of the house, sticking fingers in to wall sockets, inappropriate toilet behaviour, and generally not obeying specific instructions. Nana regularly rang CYF for assistance but was either unable to contact the social worker assigned to her case, or was fobbed off – once being told to just ‘keep a log’ of the misbehaviour. CYF even suggested that the behaviour only started at Nana’s – but official records show that there were already concerns before placement, and an assessment by CYF of Nana after the incident detailed below says “home environment appears very child friendly and cosy… the boys seemed very settled, happy and bright.” CYF documents also show that they admit that their services and lack of co-ordination between offices was ‘not always consistent’. All of this resulted in stress and health concerns for Nana. On one occasion, A grabbed a butcher knife and hit B on the head, drawing blood. Nana growled A and gave him a smack on the hand with a wooden spoon. A trainee psychologist who was working with A contacted CYF regarding the incident. The boys were removed without any written notification or specific reason being given to Nana. Nana and the boys have not seen each other since – and Nana has still not been given a reason as to their removal.

(This information has been corroborated with documents obtained under the Official Information Act.)


Mum was engaged to be re-married, and had custody of her 8 year old (G). She also has two adult children. G has been diagnosed with ADHD and could, at times, be extremely challenging and defiant. Mum has regularly sought the help of medical professionals.  Everyone that mum went to for help – including CYF – basically turned their backs on her.  On one occasion, neighbours called the police when G was sent outside because of her defiant behavior and started screaming when her step-dad told her to apologise to her mum.  On another occasion G told her step-mum that mum had smacked her on the bottom – which she had, when G was being defiant and swore at her. The step-mum complained to the police. In both cases, the police told G off for not listening to her mum. During a visit from the police G even started to get mouthy to the policeman who told her to behave herself. G’s stepmother had told G that “if your mother ever smacks you, you are to tell me”.  The step-mum and dad applied for custody, and because of the complaints about “alleged assaults”, the Family Court judge refused all access between mum and G (and her other siblings and grandparents) while CYF investigated. This absolutely destroyed G’s mother to the point where she couldn’t go to work for a couple of days due to being so distraught. The CYF investigation took three months to complete – despite the Family Court judge requesting an urgent assessment! This also meant that G had to be supervised while being a flower girl at her mother’s wedding! G was not allowed to have contact with any family members. Affidavits show that the step-mum and dad had no good reason or evidence that mum used any violence – and even admitted that G ‘does sometimes exaggerate things’. Because of G constantly threatening mum with reporting her to the police, G is now living with her dad and step-mum and visiting her mum every 2nd weekend. The step-mum has apologized for her actions, and has acknowledged the difficulties with controlling G’s behaviour.


Mum has two children aged 10 and 8. The oldest child (P) had been very difficult and mum sought help from her school, social workers, and mental health organisations who told mum that P was ‘displaying’ ADHD but was ‘just naughty’. Mum and her partner did a parenting programme, and even have the certificate! They had been having trouble with P lighting fires which was particularly dangerous given that they live rurally right by a forest area. Mum had even got the local fireman to explain to P the problem with fires. On this particular occasion, P lit a fire right by the garage shed which has flammable materials (and during a particularly dry period of summer). When Mum confronted him with the seriousness of what he had done and what could have happened, he told her “F** you”. Mum gave him two smacks on his clothed bottom with a women’s cloth belt. Every other deterrent she had tried to stop him lighting stuff didn’t seem to work. Four days later, she admitted to a social worker what she had done and said “I need help. Your advice isn’t working”. The social worker said that she would be reporting mum. Next day, CYF removed both boys to the birth father. The police investigated and after two weeks, informed mum that no charges would be laid, that the law was dumb, and that she was officially warned (although she received no written documentation relating to this). After seven weeks of supervised access to the children (and despite the police investigation being concluded five weeks earlier), mum tried to contact the social worker at CYF a number of times to enquire when she would be able to have the kids back. She managed to get hold of another social worker who checked the file and ‘thought’ it might be ok. The boys returned home. 18 months later, they have still heard nothing from CYF. They even submitted an Official Information Act request but got no response. Mum says that there is simply no support for parents who struggle with difficult children, but authorities are quick to take action when a parent puts a foot wrong.


Timaru Herald July 2011

A judge dismissed a charge against a Timaru father accused of hitting his seven-year-old with a belt. The charge arose after the boy told staff at his school that two bruises on his legs were caused by his father hitting him. The boy told police the same thing in a recorded interview in October last year, but told the Timaru District Court at a defended hearing on Wednesday he had lied because his teacher told him to say his father had hit him. When questioned by the police prosecutor, the boy said part of what he said was not true. He said the bruises were caused by his brother, who had thrown a clay cat and a toy dinosaur at him, when he had jumped onto his brother’s bed. He said he told a teacher aide because she asked him for news from home, and said he told her the bruises were caused by his brother. Yesterday, when asked if the boy had said his brother caused the bruises, the teacher aide said no. Following his conversation with the teacher aide, his teacher spoke to him and he said he told her his brother had caused the bruises. The teacher said his brother could not have done it, and it must have been his father, he said. “I had to say daddy hit me or she would just put my name on the board or she would bench me.” The boy also said he was scared his brother would go to jail.


Mum and dad ‘s 11 year old daughter was getting bullied at school. Her parents weren’t aware of the extent of the bullying or impact it was having on her.  As a result of the bullying, she was being difficult at home, and mum and dad were having to be very strict and put clear boundaries on her, which she didn’t like. She got involved with a group of girls at school who were experimenting with ‘cutting’. One day she took a kitchen knife to school to use with her friends, and a teacher found it in her bag. She panicked, thinking that she would be in a lot of trouble at school for having the knife with her, so she told her school counsellor that dad had been smacking, punching and strangling her. (She had previously told her parents that they weren’t allowed to smack her or her siblings anymore as it was against the law). The school immediately referred this to the Police who in turn referred it to CYF. The same day, mum and dad’s four children were removed from the family home – without a court order.

The family insisted CYF interview their other children, family members, friends, previous teachers, and their family doctor to get an idea of what their family was like. CYF were not interested in doing this but agreed to interview the older siblings after constant pressure from the family. No disclosure of abuse of any kind was made by either sibling. The mother was interviewed and also stated that husband had never abused their children at any time. A CYF worker then tried to tell the mother that she was a victim of domestic abuse from her husband and that she wasn’t safe to go home to him. They also told the mother and father that if they hadn’t taken their daughter out of the family home immediately she would have ended up on the front page of the NZ Herald within a week as a story of ‘another’ child who had been beaten to death by their father. Throughout this entire time the father had to leave the family home and was not allowed any contact with any of his children.

Despite no corroboration or evidence of what the daughter was saying, CYF chose to rely only on the testimony of the 11 year old despite the fact that the parents have had no previous involvement with CYF or the police of any kind, and have had no issues from any school or any other social service agency. In fact, the father has a highly responsible community based job.

While staying at her aunty’s, the 11 year admitted she had made up the stories because of the bullying. CYF were advised of this but stated that the family had forced her to recant and compared the family to the Kahui family. Mum and Dad’s lawyer pushed to get the 11 yr old referred to the child mental health unit at Starship Hospital to be assessed by an independent child psychologist. After one session of interviewing and observing, the child told the psychologist that she had lied. The psychologist became visibly upset in front of the parents and said that they had been treated appallingly. On two occasions the psychologist spoke with CYF and told them that he didn’t believe CYF had any reason to be involved with the family as the 11 yr old had made up the abuse allegations. After nine weeks the police finally completed their investigation and said that no charges would be laid and that there would be no further action from them.

14 weeks after the hell started, the family were reunited. Despite no evidence of abuse, the family – including all the children – are now flagged officially with the police and CYF as “family violence”. The father has a flag against his name “Assaults Child”. This will affect the future career prospects of dad within his current employment and mum who is currently studying for a degree.


Sunday Star Times 3 June 2012

Mum has been trying to get help from CYF, CAMHS, and a psychologist, but they all said that not much could be done about her eight year old son’s oppositional behaviour and conduct problems. After a particularly extreme situation (not the first time), Mum asked her partner to discipline him in order to bring home the unacceptability of his actions. Mum’s partner smacked the boy with a folded belt on his clothed backside twice.

The boy’s grandmother (who CYF no longer want the boy to live with) reported it to the police and both mum and her partner were charged with assault. When spoken to by police, mum unfortunately admitted that over the past two to three years, she had smacked her son on a couple of occasions when she believed he needed it due to his behavior and when other punishments didn’t work – but the last time she could recall doing was at least six months ago. The district court judge acknowledged that mum had sought help and assistance many times – but that she had ‘stepped outside the bounds of what is considered to be appropriate parental discipline..’ Because mum was an early childhood teacher – a ‘very good one’ as acknowledged in court documents – the judge said she was ‘supposed to know better’. Both she and her partner were convicted of assault. The district court judge said that the fact that the mother was not angry but that the smack was a ‘considered decision’ was an aggravating factor.

On appeal to the High Court, mum’s partner was discharged without conviction on the basis of it being a ‘one-off incident in response to an extreme, highly unusual situation’ and that ‘a poor choice was made in response to a situation none of us would like to confront. It arose against a background where persistent efforts had been made to cope with the challenges presented.’ The judge also commented that there had been ‘sustained efforts over several years to cope with, and adjust, the boy’s behaviour.”

However, because of mum’s admission that she had occasionally used smacking in the past, her conviction was upheld in the High Court, because ‘it cannot be said it was a one-off incident – despite her son presenting ‘unusual and difficult challenges’.

She appealed to the Court of Appeal – and won. They acknowledged that mum had ‘sought appropriate expert assistance … and had utilized a range of non-physical measures to address the child’s behaviour and that the actions were at ‘the lower end of the scale’. They also held that the prior incidents were overstated by the District Court judge.

Moral of the story? Be careful what you admit, even if John Key says a light smack is ok – and you think it is also.

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Please also read this. Craig put it together a few years ago:

Family First: CAN YOU HELP US?

Wednesday, July 16th, 2008
17 Jul 2008




Myth #1 : There have been no prosecutions under the new anti-smacking law


Myth #2 : The anti-smacking law has not resulted in good parents being investigated and interrogated by the police or CYF


We have evidence of a number of examples that expose these myths, including:

* a father separated from his 2 kids for 6 months by CYF because of malicious claims by mother that he had smacked them – CYF eventually reallowed access but only due to a strong supporter who knew the system
* a father prosecuted and convicted because of pushing the upper arm of his daughter 2-3 times and demanding she listen to her mother
* a grandfather prosecuted and convicted because of tipping his defiant grandson out of a bean bag-type chair to get him moving
* a father dragged through the court process only to turn up to the court case and the police to admit they had no evidence
* a stepfather who physically restrained the arms of his stepdaughter being interrogated for 2 hours almost 7 months after the incident, and 6 months later still not knowing the outcome
* a CYFs Community Panel Board member telling Family First “I can say without a doubt, that in my time I have seen a small but a definite increase in ‘good’ parents being investigated by our CYFs case workers – up to 5% of our cases. Any child who mentions to a school teacher that they have been smacked or touched in any physical way is brought under investigation and their names are indelibly logged onto our data base as a potential ‘abuser’ . I really feel sorry for these ‘good parents’ because of the fear that we as an organisation now engendering upon their parenting practise. Sadly good parents are being lumped in together with the really bad ones.”

NZ’ers deserve to be told

the truth.



(giving nationwide coverage)

We need to raise $13-14,000 by the beginning of next week to achieve this.

If you would like to invest in helping us ‘SLEDGEHAMMER THE MYTHS’


Every little bit helps . (All donations qualify for the 33% tax donation rebate.)

Thanks for your support and consideration. We must do all we can to defend the role of parents and the well-being of our children and families in NZ.

Bob McCoskrie
National Director


Saturday, September 23rd, 2006

To read an excellent article on the Smith Family’s own story in a recent issue of The Listener click on the link below:>