Smacking prosecution likely result of 'over energetic' police officer - expert

A legal expert has defended the anti-smacking law after a Picton father was taken to court for smacking his four-year-old.

The man, who has name suppression, was discharged without conviction after a complaint was laid against him by the child's mother.

Massey University professor of humanities Chris Gallavin said the case was likely an oddity, but does not represent a failure of the 2007 amendment to the Crimes Act.

The amendment removed the legal defence of "reasonable force" for parents prosecuted for assaulting their children.

"Here at most we have perhaps an over energetic police prosecution sergeant or the officer in charge who has pushed through a prosecution which has resulted in a discharge by way of without conviction," he said.

"I don't think that that can be necessarily held to say that they law is an ass as it were."

Prof Gallavin said the law change was important to help reduce family violence in New Zealand and was never intended to bring a flood of prosecutions for people smacking their kids.

"I do think it's an important piece of the puzzle of trying to remove the cold nature of violence within families," he said.

But he added the prosecution was an important reminder for people who go straight to hitting children when they're mad.

"It's perhaps a timely reminder for those parents who have a predilection for hitting their kids that you just can't do that under New Zealand law," he said.