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Occasional = 52 times a year!


The Herald’s main story is about parental attitudes to smacking and is ‘supported’ with a poll.

Herald - Smacking Poll - 25 July

Herald - Smacking Poll - 25 July

Adam is no polling expert, but he has some questions regarding this poll and what it is supposed to ‘prove’ or ‘disprove’.

Q1.   Only 200 people were canvassed for the sample yet the entire NZ electorate can vote in this referendum so is the sample a valid sample of  parents of 4 year olds, let alone of the electorate

Q2.   Adam doubts that many will have answered the questions entirely honestly, not wishing to admit perhaps what they actually do, that may be borne out by the intended No vote in the sample

Q3.   There is no objective definition of what constitutes a smack

Q4.    48% of the sample  are not certain that the question is clear.

Q5.   If 48% of the sample, are unclear, do the 51.5% actually interpret the question correctly?

At the end of the day whilst based on a small sample the poll may or may not show a change in attitudes, in so far as it says anything about what might be the result of the referendum it seems pretty meaningless.

In addition it might be that given that the earlier polls which the current poll results are compared to had some 200 questions and this one only 8, are the results truly comparable.

As usual we have a comment from:-

Bob McCoskrie of Family First, a leader of the campaign for a “No” vote in the referendum, said parents had always used a range of discipline techniques to suit different children at different ages.

“This research reassures me that parents are using smacking in an occasional and responsible way, and at the same time they don’t think parents should be criminalised for it.”

Now how on earth can he say that given that only a small sub-set of questions were asked and this is a poll with all the elements of error that might indicate it is not research.

Furthermore 8.5% admit to smacking, whatever that may mean, their 4 year old, let alone any other children at least once a week. That means they ‘smack’ their child a minimum, minimum people, 52 times a year. Sounds quite a lot more when you put it that way.

Some 25% admit to ‘smacking’ about once a month. So some 33.5% of parents of 4 year olds ‘smack their children a minimum of 12 times a year up to 52 times a year and more. Bob McCoskrie says that this reassures him that parents are using smacking in an occasional and responsible way, when 33% use it regularly. Adam would suggest once a year is occasional 12 times a year is regular and 52 times a year is frequent.Therefore for 8.5% of parents an occasional smack is only 52 times a year, according to McCoskrie. As McCoskrie is not quoted as having any concerns as to the 8.5%.

Somehow Adam is not as sanguine as Bob McCoskrie about all this.

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  1. 26/07/2009 11:29

    Of course we could take the poll at face value and say it “proves” that over 40 odd years NZ parents attitudes towards smacking changed well before the antismacking Act and is positive proof there was no need to change s59.

    Its the hook Key needs to change the law back.



  2. 26/07/2009 11:29

    I agree, Adam. Once a week is by no means “occasional”. My eldest daughter liked being sent to her room and responded poorly to persuasion and incentives being both stubborn and resourceful. Yet I doubt if I smacked her more than a dozen times between the ages of two and six (with the bulk of those being between the ages of two and three). I can’t recall ever having to smack my youngest daughter – she responded well to other forms of discipline.

    This is not because I am some sort of super-parent. Both of my children seem naturally quite settled. I can envisage a more boisterous child needing a smack more often, but 52 times a year seems a bit excessive for all that.

    PS I don’t know if you are aware of this, Adam, but your RSS feed for comments seems to be sending through a lot of spam. Wondering if you have disengaged your spam filter by accident.


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