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Parents need to know their responsibilities

Parents need to know their responsibilities as well as children’s rights

Understanding responsibilities to their children is just as important as knowing their children’s rights, says a support service working with high-risk children and their families.

Family Help Trust’s Chairman, Sally Thompson, says society as a whole should play a much bigger role in protecting our children, a group that has been identified in a Human Rights Commission Report as most at risk of having their rights denied.

“Of course the right’s of our children are paramount but rights mean little if parents and other adults in society don’t understand their own responsibilities in providing the best possible environment for our young ones,” she says.

Mrs. Thompson believes highlighting children’s rights without also looking at parental responsibility is sending an incomplete message.

“We work closely with parents and families to educate them, provide them with information and support to empower them to make better decisions for their children. Empowerment is so important. When parents understand they have responsibilities and perhaps more importantly how to meet those responsibilities to the best of their ability, that’s when we start to see an improvement in our children’s lives; indeed their children’s children’s lives,” she says.

The Family Help Trust team works with “high risk” children and their families addressing multiple problems such as a history of violence, drugs and crime. Those elements are more often than not accompanied by some degree of poverty or deficiencies in the children’s lives.

“With this report identifying such a massive number of New Zealand children living in benefit led homes, as most of the Trust’s families are, it is crucial to break that cycle of dependency. That can only be done by instilling a sense of pride and responsibility in parents together with the skills and knowledge they need to provide a better future for their children,” says Sally Thompson.

Mrs. Thompson is quick to add that it is not as simple as it sounds and well funded early intervention programmes that get into a family unit while a child is under 3 years of age, offering preventative strategies, are much more effective at breaking the cycle of deprivation than just throwing more money, in the form of benefits, at families.

“A benefit is still vital to many families in need but the financial assistance should not be a solution on its own. Our programmes are all about long-term solutions; they are more than a band-aid. The Family Help Trust identifies why the “band-aid” is needed and address those issues, changing circumstances wherever possible so that the cycle is broken for these kids, and future generations,” she says.

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