A law that outlaws child beating but does not criminalize parents who use "inconsequential force" — such as a disciplinary smack — overwhelmingly passed in New Zealand's Parliament on Wednesday.

The new law closed a legal loophole in the country's Crimes Act that allowed "reasonable force" to be used by parents to discipline a child. That provision had been used as a successful legal defense in child abuse cases in New Zealand courts.

The new law makes it an offense for parents to use force to discipline children, however, it gives police the discretion "not to prosecute complaints ... involving the use of force against a child where the offense is considered so inconsequential there is no public interest in proceeding with a prosecution."