Govt asking the wrong questions on child abuse

The Dominion Post leads today with a story about “keeping kiwi kids safe”, especially those who are born into families from which previous children have been removed because of abuse.

The story was prompted by the release of two studies by the Families Commission on the risks to subsequent children in such families. The Commission makes a number of suggestions: improved information sharing between agencies, improved reporting processes, consideration of mandatory reporting, complementary interventions rather than single focus programmes, culturally appropriate services, and long-term more intensive follow-up.

The release of these studies comes while Social Development Minister Paula Bennett is in the middle of an intensive road trip consulting on her Green Paper for Vulnerable Children. She was in my town, Lower Hutt, last night, and in Whangarei earlier this week while I was there. From local reports, it sounds like the consultation process has been somewhat fraught, with locals in Whangarei frustrated that the Minister wasn’t open to hearing from people directly, insisting instead that they “put it in a submission“. Nevertheless I applaud the proactive way that the Government has approached the task of consulting on the Green Paper – they’ve really gone all out with meetings, websites, social media, and NGO engagement. Submissions close on 28 February and I do encourage you to make one.

The problem is I think they might be asking the wrong questions. The Green Paper makes similar recommendations to those of the Families Commission today, with a focus on mandatory reporting and prioritising social services for young children and families over older children and individuals.

There is no doubt that there is much that can be done to improve Child Youth and Families processes, better integrate services between Government agencies, improve information-sharing, and “wrap around support” (a current buzzword) for families at risk, to reduce the horrific rate of child abuse in New Zealand. To the extent that the Green Paper can achieve this, I applaud it.

However, I remain concerned both with the more controversial recommendations like mandatory reporting. As Metiria pointed out when the Green Paper was released in July last year, there is a very real risk that mandatory reporting of child abuse will be counter-productive, because it can frighten vulnerable families from access the support that is available to them. There is a huge stigma attached to having CYFS involved with your family which would only be intensified by mandatory reporting. In acute cases there are already very good best practice reporting guidelines for health professionals and social workers.

More fundamentally, I’m concerned that the Green Paper’s jurisdiction doesn’t extend to the underlying causes of abuse and neglect, namely poverty and inequality. The Northern Advocate called Paula Bennett’s consultation tour a “poverty roadshow“, but sadly, it is anything but. The submission template asks for opinions about prioritising services, monitoring families, sharing personal information, connecting families to services, and encouraging communities to take responsibility for child abuse, but nothing about poverty and how theΒ  Government should address it. I’ve heard from those who were at the Lower Hutt meeting last night that the cost of living and inequality were are major theme of responses from the audience, but that the Minister’s focus was very much on reporting and information-sharing.

We know that financial stresses are a major contributor to child abuse and neglect. Beyond physical abuse itself, family financial hardship often exposes children to adult stresses that are detrimental to their wellbeing. This is a phenomenon I discussed with the team at 155 Whare in Whangarei on Monday, and one which is very real for children. When Metiria interviewed children at a Decile 1 school in Dunedin to produce our podcast of kids talking about poverty last year, they talked about loan sharks, credit cards, interest rates, and their parents “doing silly stuff” when financial stresses got too much. These are adult concepts and stresses that children simply shouldn’t be exposed to.

They also talked about going without shoes, parents going without meals to make sure their kids had enough to eat, living in cold damp homes that made them sick, and the unfairness of tax cuts that only worked out for the wealthy (yes really, with no prompting!).

Until we address child poverty and inequality, we can’t hope to make serious inroads on the child abuse issue.

66 Comments Posted

  1. Child abuse is one of the worst things imaginable. Why would anyone try to hide any type of abuse? Why shouldn’t it be mandatory to report abuse? There is nothing that will scar a child worse than the lost of trust in the only people in the world that they feel safe with? I have no patience with any type of abuse. Physical and sexual abuse are both hideous offenses and should, in my opinion, by capital offenses. They should treat them the same way as any violent crime like murder. No other way to describe it but horrendous.


  2. For many people financial stress is a driver to better oneself in order to earn more or do something different with their lives.

    For many people, financial stress is a driver to commit suicide, because there isn’t a chance in hell that they can better themselves.

    I hear the sweet tones of the neo-liberal market capitalist cheerleader talking… in ignorance of the fact that market capitalism in combination with debt-based fractional-reserve currency, leads inevitably and inexorably to increasing inequality and social immobility. The only way to avoid this is steeply progressive taxation and wealth transfer from the top to the bottom.

  3. N.B To the person that influenced his child to have an abortion, the day will come when she realises what she has done, and she will probably not ever forgive you. (I have had an abortion, so speaking from experience).

  4. The vast majority of commenters on this blog are sick.

    [frog: Careful! Starting off your commenting here by abusing “the vast majority of commenters” is not likely to enhance your own longevity as a commenter. Argue the issues, rather than abuse others.]

    My partner and I are currently unemployed despite our best efforts to find work. The saying “walk a mile in someone’s shoes” springs to mind. I suspect trolls in this blog. I love my children more than anyone else on this planet could, and I am part of the majority, not minority. The child abuse statistics, though apalling when it happens, are grossly over inflated by entities that profit from it. Are you aware that CYFS recieve 100,000 of tax payers money in bulk funding every time they uplift a child? Quite an incentive.

  5. In 1971, when I was in high school I had a friend that was beaten black and blue by her parents frequently. When I reported it to my own parents, the police and to the school counselors I was told that disciplining your own child was not against the law. Even today I know many people of my generation think that it is appropriate to hit their children as a form of discipline. There have been times in the last ten years that I have called Social Services to report domestic violence and have been told that there is nothing that can be done until the victims go to the police and follow through with complaints and testimony in court. The victims don’t follow through, and the abuse continues. This is a terrible problem that will take a very long time to fix.

  6. For many people financial stress is a driver to better oneself in order to earn more or do something different with their lives. I would rate it pretty low on the list of reasons (if any)to beat your kids.

    Mabey its more correct to say some people are overly susceptible to agression and shouldnt be allowed to have kids. God knows we try to stop them getting firearms licences, but happy to let them look after a fragile little life…a baby \ child.

  7. nzmr2guy:

    It’s social engineering. The state will replace the father – that’s the goal. This has been going on since woman’s “liberation” and the DPB.
    Men are to be no longer to be ‘men’, only small-minded metrosexual types who confuse their narcissistic indulgences with sensitivity.

    The state will be the ‘great father’ that women look up to, and men will be mere sex toys that women have be taught (via TV) to have contempt for. But maybe that’s good advice? Broadly speaking, from my experience on planet earth, fatherless males are less trustworthy. They just don’t seem have that core of real standards in them. I’m generalizing horrifically, of course, but may I use the term “little s–ts”. Eg: John Key.

  8. pinched a nerve there phil πŸ™‚ losing your edge, and your temper. Yes they are bastards, any chick that goes out and gets up the duff via sleeping with random guys or guys that dont hang around and treat her like crap is giving birth to bastards, as they will have no father in their life, and chances are the kids will be just like their irresponsible parents and continue the cycle.

    SPC: I wouldnt go as far as sterilisation but god knows some people do need to have it, phils parents could have benefited for instance :), but if people choose to have kids outside of the restriction then there should be hefty punishments, which include taking that child and adopting it to people that cant have kids.

    If you cant afford them, cant provide 2 parents, cant prove you are stable and can provide a good environment..well dont have the little bastards.

    oops theres that B word again.

  9. nzmr2guy

    More slip fielding practice?

    You orignally called for a license to bear a child.
    Then to be able to keep a child, rather than have it adopted it out.
    Now, to be able to conceive a two year relationship – that requires contraception or sterilisation (for those of fertile age not in a 2 years or more relationship).

  10. LOL you caught me out SPC, I didnt want to come accross as a gay hater πŸ™‚ Ill be honest and say its not natural, I have nothing against them, each to their own, but yeah kids need a mum and a dad.

    Phil if fate capped me im quite capable of looking after myself and my child without state help, you see smart people like me who made good choices in life and built wealth are capable of looking after ourseleves without suckling the nanny state.

    Dont even go down the child care route, our child loves daycare 3 days a week and thrives there, plenty of kids been there done that and turn out normal.

    What my orignal statement was, is that people in unstable or short term relationships should not be allowed to concieve. Minimum 2 years living together before a baby can be had. Will stop these loose mums sleeping with random guys on Friday nights and having bastard kids leeching the system.

  11. gun debate..

    they won’t be back..

    ..didn’t you read the thread..?

    ..operating as a tag-team we whupped their arses..

    ..we whupped their arses good..

    ..and they retired wounded/whimpering to their fox-holes..

    ..where they still snivel…

    ..and..lookng at the bigger-picture..

    ..that thread is almost a masterclass in destroying the gun-freaks’ arguments..

    ..virtually every thread/sub-thread is offered by the gun-freaks..

    ..and demolished.. is good you weren’t here.. kill it at birth..

    ..and does that at all make you think-on about the organic nature of threads..

    ..and how they take on a life of their own..?

    ..and who is to say that life/outcome is inferior to the original attempt at birth..


  12. “..and I wont even have to send her to the clinic in the first place…”

    and it does surprise me how off-hand you are about the idea of aborting a grandchild…that you would ‘force’ it..

    (especialy as you are no longer just jaw-flapping in the you have a child..)

    ..that neo-lib/tina-blood in yr veins must run really cold…eh..?


  13. gee..!..nzwhatever..

    ..speaking hypothetically…

    ..what say fate crapped on you…

    ..and you ended up as a sole-parent… have nobody to step in/up…to help on a day to day basis..

    ..what do you do..? you decide to devote yr energies/time to raising that child..

    ..and be forced to rely on state-support..

    ..or do you take the option of having more money from working..

    ..and having to place the child in holding-warehouses untill you finish work each day..

    ..and all day every school holidays…(xmas-hols are a long haul for the poor

    ..or do you settle for the option you advocate..

    ..that your child should be taken from you..

    ..and given to a ‘normal’ married couple…?


  14. nzmr2guy

    Presumably that same respect for choice would allow an aging career woman the right to use a sperm donation bank to have a child and keep it, rather than having to migrate to Oz to have a child.

    Are you speaking out of both sides of your mouth on just this thread?

    “Children need mums and dads to raise them, plenty of studies showing the bad issues when children dont have dads in their life.”

    “im all for gay people adopting provided both parents are in a long term stable relationship and can provide both financially and emotionally.”

    So two mothers (breeding via sperm donation banks) without a dad in the child’s life is OK then? Or are you saying two dads is OK and that children don’t need mothers?

  15. Can anyone imagine a government with Paula Bennett as Minister of Social Development denying the right of 17 year olds to keep their child?

    She had her child at 17. Yet today she could not get DPB support till the child was 18.

    She went to university to study when her child was 8.

    Today once the child was 6 she would be required to be available for work part-time (which she said she valued because the people she worked with inspired her to go to university), so could not study full-time (as she did). There would be no TIA for her now either.

    So maybe she would close the door on others keeping their child … but she did once say this

    Bennett says she decided alone to go ahead with the pregnancy. Asked why New Zealand has the world’s second-highest rate of sole parenthood, she says: “Because we back people to have choice … You’re not going to have me bagging the solo mums.”

  16. I can promise you that no matter what you do short of total brainwashing, you’re not going to be that confident when she hits 13 πŸ™‚

    Just a reality check for you. Kids grow their own way… you can do your damnedest to guide, correct, love, nurture… and they turn into individuals who make up their own minds and make their own mistakes.

    Not gonna say it isn’t a good idea to try to teach responsibility, but it isn’t all that teachable.

    Responsibility is something you TAKE, and some people never get around to reaching for any of it.

    Which leaves us with their kids…


  17. I dont know ask me in 16 years and 5 months when she turns 17 πŸ™‚ im confident enough that based her parenting she will end up be a responsible person and I wont even have to send her to the clinic in the first place.

  18. Solkta – not sure how my guns relate to making my daughter get an abortion, you can attempt to make someone do something without forcing them. I reason with them, help them see the error of their ways and the impact on their future.

  19. oooo goody! The Gun Debate again!
    Bring out them corn-fed, rootin’ shootin’ redneck Cowboys again Frog.
    Free entertainment is soo hard to come by!

    [frog: No, it will not be the gun debate again. The only reason commenters got away with that last time over summer hols was because I wasn’t here enough to moderate it. ]

  20. nzmr2guy, i asked about your gun, no chimpanzees. Was wondering how you would “make” your 17 year old daughter have an abortion?

  21. Solkta : RE: Chimpanzees, youre onto a good idea, they could look after kids better than some of the child abusing scum that call themseleves parents today.

    Andrew Atkin : totally agree on the monther \ father thing, but id rather see a baby being cared for by loving gay couple than a mother\father who never wanted the kid in the first place.

    Id be against surrogacy for Gays, plenty of kids out there up for adoption who need loving homes. I view it like people who breed cats to sell, so many cats at SPCA need homes.

  22. nzmr2guy: Why don’t we just hand the babies over to chimpanzees? Animals have rights too, don’t they? Or would that be too modern?

    My point is you are contradicting natures way, and playing with fire in the process. Other things being equal the baby should have a mother and father, if possible.

  23. im all for gay people adopting provided both parents are in a long term stable relationship and can provide both financially and emotionally.

    im not in the dark ages πŸ™‚

  24. So I am guessing you are making a requirement of the couple raising up children that one be male and one be female.

  25. and a 17 year old mum, well 17 y/o doesnt know what they want in life at the best of times, and the parents of that girl are just as much to blame if they raise their daughter to think unprotected sex is OK

    17 year olds should be in college, not having babies with boys who cant provide for them and wont be around for that child.

    If it was my daughter what would tell her ?…..hmmmm id man up as a parent and make her book her own abortion and hope she learned a lesson. Sometimes tough love is the only way to get through to a teenager. To much PC bullshit corrupting our young today.

  26. LOL SPC how can she have a child without a partner πŸ™‚ unless she rushed out and fd some random guy just to knocked up.

    A child should be had as part of a long term loving relationship by 2 parents, not for selfish reason of getting old so better hurry.

    Children need mums and dads to raise them, plenty of studies showing the bad issues when children dont have dads in their life.

  27. And a career woman who has a job and wants to have a child before its too late (though she has no partner) you would not allow her to?

    Some line.

    And Paula Bennet at age 17 should have been told to do what exactly?

  28. SPC, yes for sure you are right, those events can a do happen, but by implementing what ive said we reduce the chances and instances of abuse.

    Again id be happy help a single parent who made a decent go at life, than someone who just decided to have kids and let the taxpayer pick up the tab from the onset with no thought on how they will provide for that child.

    Im not talking about cutting off existing people either, just drawing a line in the sand in order to make the shift.

  29. nzmr2guy

    I can see where you are going alright.

    The idea of helping the two income couple family more and the poor one income single parent family less is the excuse used for keeping 20% of our children in poverty. But increasing disparty further is the wrong direction. A help the haves and keep the have nots deprived is a form of class warfare.

    You have in now way broken any cycle – couples will still break up, people will lose jobs and one parent familes will raise up children in poverty.

  30. Problem with giving the poor more money is you have to take that money off someone else, someone else who mabey sweated blood and urine and made sacrifices to get into a higher income and make a comfortable poverty free life for themselves.

    How do you decide who should pay more tax for the poor ? or mabye it doesnt matter how they got rich and should just hand it over becuase “they can afford it”.

    Mabey we should just accept that we will have haves and have nots and try to get along as best we can. ???

    LOL I gave you a tick for the kiwiblogwhaleoil jibe…that was funny…so you do have a sense of humor phil πŸ™‚

  31. shaw again:

    “..Perhaps the greatest social service that can be rendered by anybody to the country and to mankind is to bring up a family…”


  32. most of the politicians wring their hands over poverty…

    ..but baulk at any idea of relieving that poverty by the simple means of giving the poor more money..

    ..they seem unable to recognise that the evils wrought by shipley/richardson…need to be undone…

    ..before there is any hope of ending the miseries that walk so comfortably hand-in-hand with that poverty..

    (my ‘favourite’/most-illuminating david farrar quote..and why i will always think he is nothing but a blob of shit..

    ..was his boast that at the time of that tearing away of financial support from the poor/sole-parents/the unwell..

    ..that he worked for/with tshipley/richardson..

    ..and was at their elbows..

    ..urging them to cut ‘more!’..’more!’..

    ..if it weren’t so’d be funny…

    ..and as an aside..that he is always invited to the green party xmas-party..

    ..makes me kinda gag… should know/recognise yr fucken

    ..not schmooze them..


  33. So Phil your solution is that the people who earn more through bettering themselves in order to make a good life for themselves and their children need to be paying $$$ to boost up poorer peoples incomes so they have a more cushy life and by some miracle dont feel the need to beat their kids ?

    Anyone that would beat or mistreat a child has issues other then income level..PERIOD…and should not have the right to bring a child into this world.

    Please also…someone….anyone…define RICH…. seriously phil put a number on it..most rich people (including myself) started off with nothing and worked hard to get to where they are today.

    Oh phil the gun comment meant that you call for stringent licences on firearm owners, yet you and Jackal would most likely oppose mental health checks and licencing to have a child..a much more serious matter in life.

  34. Consider that better educated and resourced folks are more likely to report such a thing? In homes where the police are regarded with suspicion for all too many reasons, the reporting of abuse is likely to fall in with the reporting of any sort of illegalities. Not saying it is right, just offering it as an off-the-cuff explanation for a puzzling statistic. The reporting doesn’t necessarily follow the frequency of the the problem.


  35. Certainly we need to help children now, but put a line in the sand to start preventing the problem from occuring in the first place.

    Why are we to PC to admit what the true problem is and the best fix ?.

    Id go so far to say in addition to preventing the wrong people having kids we need to be supporting the “right people” in having kids, and at the moment those are ones that have little to no benefits due to their income.

    ie id rather support with my tax dollar a 2 parent household on good income that chose to have a child and raise it to be productive, law abiding, respectful citizen, as opposed to a single mum with a string of boyfriends, no job, no desire to better her life or teach her kids the value of a hard days work.

    The result over time will be kids that grow up to be productive, law abiding and respectful citizens that in turn will have their own kids.

    See where im heading ?

    Break the cycle.

  36. and the rest of what you write is as much rubbish as that claim.. shaw noted..

    “..Do not waste your time on Social Questions.

    What is the matter with the poor is Poverty;-

    – what is the matter with the rich is Uselessness…”


  37. These USA stats could certainly relate to NZ in terms of who is doing the abusing and what family factors affect the likelyhood of abuse.

    Says it all really

    – single parent, large family, low income = abuse
    – 2 parents, single child, higher income = little to no abuse

    Just happens that certain groups \ mentality of people fall into the low income category, doesnt mean its the income that causes it, just the type of people you find on the lower incomes.

  38. Besides, it is only a “license to bear a child” if everyone of fertility age is on compulsory contraception until they get a license to breed. You’re proposing a license to raise children after birth. And that will have little impact on children being raised up now.

    A balanced approach works best

    Society has to take up common cause with parents in wanting them to be raising children in warm/insulated homes and in ensuring children are provided for (food in poor area schools), universal uptake of B4 School Well Child programmes and dental clinics in poor area schools) and introducing doctors medical clinics in these schools to support school nurses. This willingness to contribute earns “society” the right to involve itself in how well parents raising up their children in relative poverty are doing. The fact that others care to this extent would have postive impact on the future relationship between these children and society and their improved health would raise their educational prospects. Parents seeing their childrens future brighten would have more self-respect for themselves in their own role and could better appreciate that intervention by others in their family life is not for their judgment but out of a proven society will to offer them and their children more help.

    If we continue on the path of attacking the underclass parents and refuse to act to get children out of poverty we will achieve nothing.

  39. “..people that own guns (Jackal and Phil U) ..”

    heh..!..i can’t speak for jackal..

    ..but you can note in yr database that i am unarmed…


  40. I accept circumstances change, divorce job loss etc, but yes initially before any kids are had there needs to be the checks I mentioned.

    – Only couples should be having kids
    – At least one person in the relationship should have a job
    – Both parents need to be mentally sound
    – The environment they are raised needs to meet a minimum standard

    DPB is for people who need it, not people that irresponsibly breed and make bad choice after bad choice and expect the taxpayer to keep picking up the tab.

    Mabey harsh penalties for people having children without a licence ? backed up by free abortions so people have an out.

    May fix other problems in society as well, as bad parents tend to breed bad kids.

    Break the cycle.

  41. nzmr2guy

    Did you really say that only couples and those with jobs can have and keep children? Anyone who wants to breed needing prior consent (on these terms), like people renovating houses and if they fail to get prior consent … they have to undo their renovation … here hand the kid over …

    You presume there would be enough people willing to adopt them. If not, the state employs care givers who get paid. So if the state is prepared to employ care givers in place of the birth parent, why would the state require people to have jobs before having (any more) children.

    To some couples having a child when one or both is laid off from jobs makes perfect sense – they have the time to be parents and or upskill. Given the number of laid off mothers raising children and the number of divorced women raising children alone – are you not inferring that children without resident (working) fathers should be taken from their mothers and raised by couples with jobs?

    Will this lead to those losing their jobs losing their kids? Is this not ultimately an attack on the DPB itself? Where does this end?

  42. Does anybody have any information that supports the claim that

    “55% of notifications of abused children to cyps come from families in the top 80% of income – not from families living in poverty.”

    It just does not sound credible.

  43. Sorry but being poor is not a cause or excuse to beat your kids, fact is, mentally some people are not capable of looking after and should not be allowed kids.

    We call for annual mental health checks of people that own guns (Jackal and Phil U) yet we let anyone have kids.

    Any normal parent here knows that even if you are on the bones of your ass you get up off your ass and do everything you can to change your position and to support that child that relies on you. Your kin, the child that you love unconditionally.

    I would propose that anyone who wants to breed should be able to prove that

    A) they are in a stable relationship
    B) they have the required income to support a child
    C) they are mentally sound
    D) they have a suitable environment to raise the child in

    Call it a “Licence to Bear Child” and if you have one without it, the state takes that child and places it into adoption for other elligble people to adopt.

    Extreme ?? mabey, but it would work.

  44. photonz1: Quote:

    – becoming a parent at an early age
    – drug abuse
    – alcohol abuse
    – living with a partner who is not the parent ( a child in this situation is 50 times more likely to die from abuse than one living with both biological parents)
    – low educational qualifications


    And where do these factors come from? You’re still quoting what are ultimately effects – not causes. Such as the inability to pair-bond properly because that function was ruined as a result of deprivation in your own childhood, leading to women having transient relationships with men. I could go on.

    Again I recommend people check out my post on this. You’ve got to get to the true root of the problem to understand what you’re dealing with:

  45. Holly – you blame child abuse on poverty, while missing out all the well known and researched factors associated with child abuse like –

    – becoming a parent at an early age
    – drug abuse
    – alcohol abuse
    – living with a partner who is not the parent ( a child in this situation is 50 times more likely to die from abuse than one living with both biological parents)
    – low educational qualifications

    55% of notifications of abused children to cyps come from families in the top 80% of income – not from families living in poverty.

    And then you say nothing can be done about child abuse unless poverty and inequality are addressed – that’s nonsense.

    If you are REALLY intereasted in doing something about child abuse, you should have a serious look at the known factors, instead of just using it as a stick to beat the poverty drum.

  46. Ah Sapient – I have been missing your wisdom here – a long time since I studied Andromeda (fascinating myth hey?).
    I merely recall that the numbers – the size was incomprehensible to me.

    And, yes, the notion that a child be sacrificed for the vices of a parent is a phenomenon I find all too real – in my ‘quiet’ little country town.
    It is true and true again – rends hearts, breaks families, fills jails hospitals and graveyards……thank you – seriously profound!

    You must have checked out with a PhD., by now….I don’t think it wrong to say you have a lot to offer(understatement). And a few others have opined thine absence.

    Stay Sapient, Stay!

    Engage when you will but know this – we can never set our goals high enough!

  47. Mark,

    Perhaps the Greek myth which is the origin of the name is more apt? A female whom, for her mothers boasting, is chained to a rock as a sacrifice to the sea monster Cetus.

    The name itself means “she who is mindful of bravery” or “she as if a male warrior”.

    It is kind of apt to the topic at hand, also, given that the child is given up as a sacrifice for the vices of a parent.

  48. Well the very name Andromeda sparks the flint here – you’ll correct me but it has 14 billion suns? Each with it’s own solar universe?
    That is a lot to live up to….
    Good (great) truth…. these things are passed down the Centuries through family until someone somewhere finds the Courage to stand up and Declare “No More……”

  49. Child abuse is handed down inter-generationally via trauma. I think you will find the poverty factor to be an aggravator, to some degree, but it’s mostly a case of the parents neurotically acting-out with their children. And also, unfeeling parents who have been turned 50% psychopath from their own you-don’t-want-to-know-about-it type childhoods.

    May I suggest the following to read:

    Some people should not be allowed to breed, for the sake of everyone and especially the long-term sake of everyone. I know that sounds Nazi but it’s true.

  50. Excellent post, Holly, it is one thing to spot the symptoms of neglect but another to address the root causes. The blame culture that exists again under National will just marginalize and label disfunctioning families even further and do nothing to address the real issues. Celia Lashlie’s book “The Power of Mothers” makes a good case for identifying struggling mothers and providing the support they really need to break the cycle of neglect.

    A lot of that support is around valuing and supporting the parenting role which both Labour and National have degraded over time so that any full time parent is seen as a bludger. We now have 65% of mothers with children under 12 months working, which is much higher than most OECD countries. Not only are the value of benefits dropping but the push for a low waged casualised workforce means that whether in work or not, families (especially sole parent ones) are trapped into a life of poverty.

    When every child is born there should be some awareness of the home the child will be going to and useful support provided as soon as possible. every single neglected child is a potential long term drain on our resources, the sooner needs are addressed the less likely ongoing support will be needed through adulthood and until they die. Children who come from stable, financially secure homes tend to develop into healthy, educated adults who will contribute positively to their communities and put few demands on the welfare, health and justice systems.

  51. The problem is inequality and poverty.

    When that is addressed generally we will see the instances of Maori child abuse go down.

    The Green paper is another displacement activity, by people who want to be seen to be doing something, but will not address the real issues.

  52. ” there is a very real risk that mandatory reporting of child abuse will be counter-productive”

    For goodness sakes, Holly. Are we just going to stand by with the status quo? We cannot let the abuse continue and, while I agree we should address the root causes of child abuse in a strategic sense, the tactical realities that too many people are turning a blind eye to this malaise mean that real and significant penalties need to be imposed to at least stem the rush before more long term measures take effect.

  53. If the answer is data sharing, then that is telling you that you have the wrong organisational structure to deal with the problem at hand.

  54. Being brown is not an indicator of poor social outcomes, being poor is. Poor white people bash, rob and otherwise as poorly as brown poor people.
    The only real long term way to end poverty is to get people work ready – not flipping burgers or operating checkouts, but with skills that are in demand internationally. It should be a shame on every minister of education since 1984 that too many kids graduate from high school without the necessary skills to get a job or take up higher education.

  55. There is the two tracked approach to this – reducing general stress on families and dealing with abuse as it occurs. We know where it occurs it often does so again – perhaps we need to profile the factors involved better and change them?

    Most of the former has been identified already – food in poor area schools, insulation of rental property, improving the coverage of the B4 School Well Child programme (expansion of pre school programmes), keeping school dentists in poor area schools (these kids cannot get to them in other schools as easily), having clinics in these schools (school nurses with doctors follow up).

    As to abuse, whether its mandatory reporting or not, the question is whether we want to prevent further abuse or prosecute after the fact. Allowing some admission of abuse where this is not information available to a court might clear up issues more effectively (overcome denial more quickly) and assist in preventing further abuse. Not allowing this has consequences when denial leads to further abuse before any subsequent prosecution.

    PS The problem with making submissions, is that is that a decent effort at one should result in something that looks at the whole issue and comes to some balanced policy – but this government only takes this as mandate for the ideas in the mix they already like and they ignore the rest – WWG.

  56. The question nobody dares ask is
    ‘What is it about being brown that makes me bash my kids?’
    It’s time the Race Card got pulled out of the PC closet.
    There is a big brown elephant in the room…

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