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More Input Wanted From Doctors And Teachers

Child, Youth and Family is to look at working with doctors and teachers more about recognising the signs of abuse and neglect. This follows an analysis, carried out in the wake of the James Whakaruru case, of who is notifying the department about such problems.

In each of the past two fiscal years, just 1% of notifications received by Child, Youth and Family were from doctors (although it is possible some notifications by GPs were recorded under notifications from the health sector, which accounted for 10% of notifications).

Schools, meanwhile, were the source of 12% of notifications. "The figures regarding GPs are worrying, as at face value they appear low," says Child, Youth and Family chief social worker Mike Doolan.

"Perhaps we need to work with doctors more about reporting signs of abuse and neglect. We plan to discuss this with health authorities."

Mr Doolan says the relatively low number of cases being notified by teachers is also of concern, given that many abused and neglected children will obviously have contact with schools.

"Our Social Workers in Schools programme will hopefully make a difference to the reporting rate by teachers. But, as things stand, teachers may be lacking information about the symptoms of abuse and neglect. Again, we will look to discuss these figures with the education sector to see if we can do more to raise awareness in teachers of abuse and neglect."

Mr Doolan says it's extremely pleasing to see that family members made around a third of the notifications: "Many family members are clearly prepared to do the right thing and seek help on behalf of their young relatives. That's very heartening to me, as family support for abused or neglected kids is crucial.

"Police also deserve credit. Not only are they referring more cases to us, but police notifications increased as a percentage of the total in the last financial year," says Mr Doolan.


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