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New tactic to reduce child abuse

New tactic to reduce child abuse

WELLINGTON – Common training for front-line health, education and welfare workers could help reduce the incidence of child abuse, say researchers from the University’s School of Health Sciences.

Associate Professor Annette Huntington and Helen Wilson have received funding of $15,000 from the Families Commission to study a British way of working with families called the Family Partnership Model.

New Zealand has one of the highest rates of death from child abuse in the world, says Ms Wilson. “The Family Partnership Model addresses several contributing problems: Poor communication and collaboration between agencies, the need to upskill front-line workers, and the need for skilled clinical supervision for practitioners.

“Most early intervention programmes have disappointingly high drop-out rates or at best show modest effectiveness,” she says.

Unlike most initiatives, the key feature of the Family Partnership Model is that it builds on existing services, giving front-line workers the expertise to identify psycho-social problems early and ensure appropriate intervention or referral of troubled children and their families. It includes training for all staff, regardless of background discipline, which provides skills to work effectively with families.

“The Family Partnership Model has been successful in Britain, Europe and Australia, and we aim to see if it could work here.” Studies have shown that this model can improve mothers' confidence, children's behaviour, maternal sensitivity to infants and satisfaction with services.

Dr Huntington and Ms Wilson will approach agencies to assess their interest in offering this training to their staff.


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