Responding to reports of concern about smacking
If we receive a report of concern where the primary concern is smacking or hitting, we need to assess the information before deciding what to do.
Some parents lightly smack their children to correct bad behaviour. Given the common understanding that smacking involves an open-palm, sharp slap that doesn't leave te tamaiti with an enduring mark or injury, it is most unlikely to be viewed as physical abuse.
We need to use professional judgement and common sense, while also keeping safety in mind.
We should think about:
- age of te tamaiti
- severity of the smacking
- where on their body they were hit
- whether there are other injuries
- how often they’re hit
- whether any weapons were used.
If there are no concerns in these areas, it’s likely that the action is smacking and we don’t need to take further action.
We can keep investigating to make sure te tamaiti is safe if we are concerned that they are being abused, or we find:
- parental drug and alcohol abuse
- parental mental illness
- family/whānau violence.
If it’s appropriate, we can ask families/whānau if they’d like to be linked to services or programmes that support their parenting. These could help parents to learn other behaviour management techniques and alternatives to smacking.
Caregivers looking after children in the custody of Oranga Tamairki need to refer to the caregiver handbook for alternatives to smacking.
Caregiver handbook – page 41