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10,000 conversations about child abuse prevention

Media Release
16 November 2012

10,000 conversations about child abuse prevention happening in Hamilton

Hamilton, New Zealand – 335 people are expected to start around 10,000 conversations about child abuse prevention today in Hamilton.

The annual child abuse prevention awareness campaign, Buddy Day, kicked off this morning at Claudelands Event Centre in Hamilton. The event is in its second year and is organised by New Zealand’s specialist child protection training organisation, Child Matters.

One of New Zealand’s leading experts on child protection, CEO of Child Matters Anthea Simcock, says Buddy Day is one cog in the wheel that can help trigger the start of a social change.

“New Zealand has one of the highest rates of death by child abuse out of 31 OECD countries. And for every child who’s died at the hand of an abuser, there are hundreds more suffering from physical and emotion abuse and neglect.

“To create the massive social change required to reverse these trends, we need people of influence – leaders in our communities – to step up, get involved and take action.

“We have 335 leaders in Hamilton and several others in pockets around the country, spreading the message that every adult is responsible for keeping our children safe and must speak up when there are concerns for a child’s safety.

“Buddy Day is a fun way of having a serious conversation and it is one part of the wider solution of raising awareness of the issue of child abuse,” she explained.

Leaders speaking at the breakfast event this morning were: business leader, Margaret Comer, Corporate Services Executive Gallagher Group; Iwi leader, Parekawhia McLean CEO of Waikato-Tainui; community leader, Her Worship the Mayor Julie Hardaker, and local government leader, National MP Tim Macindoe.

The 335 individuals participating in Buddy Day in Hamilton each adopted a life-size cutout of a cardboard child, called a Buddy, which they picked up this morning.

The 335 Buddies, decorated by school children and community groups last week, represent 20% of the substantiated cases of child abuse in the Waikato last year.

The Buddies are now with their Carers, going with them everywhere they go during the day. The eye-catching Buddies are the prompt for Carers to generate conversations about child abuse. Individual Carers have been tasked with having a dialogue with around 25-50 people each, for a total of around 10,000 conversations.

Child Matters’ long-term goal is to make Buddy Day a national event, with every community in New Zealand participating.

Mrs Simcock went on to say that there was such a demand for Buddies from people outside the Waikato region this year, that hundreds of miniature Buddies were created and posted out so that others around the country could participate.

For more information on Buddy Day visit: www.buddyday.org.nz .

Follow Buddy Day on Facebook: www.facebook.com/buddydaynz .

-ENDS-

About Buddy Day:

This year there are 335 Buddies being adopted by Carers on Buddy Day. This number represents 20% of the substantiated cases of child abuse in the Waikato last year.

Buddy Day has two components:

Buddies are Created, 2 November – 12 November:

• The week before Buddy Day, school children created Buddies from blank, life-sized cardboard cut-outs.
• Each ‘Buddy’ is given its own name and life story that is written by the children who decorate them.

Buddies are Adopted by Carers on Buddy Day, 16 November:

• Carers are adults who adopt the Buddies after they have been decorated, for the day only. This year Buddy Day is 16 November. The hub of the event is in Hamilton.
• On 16 November the 335 Carers collect their Buddies at a breakfast at the Claudelands Event Centre where they are also briefed about their responsibilities for the day.
• Carers take their ‘Buddy’ with them for the day – to the office, to meetings, to lunch, or running errands. The more places the Buddy visits the better!
• When others see Carers with their Buddy, this opens up conversations about the responsibility of every adult in our community to speak up for children and keep them safe.
• Throughout Buddy Day, when Carers have conversations about how adults need to speak up for children, they get people to sign a ‘Buddy diary.’ This is a way to spread the message of Buddy Day and its message about preventing child abuse.
• After the event, many of the schools involved in creating the Buddies ask for them back, and they are returned to them. Carers can also keep their Buddies if they wish. All other Buddies are returned to Child Matters.

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