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Big News: Children In Dysfunctional Families

Big News with Dave Crampton

Caring For Children In Dysfunctional Families

Caring for children within dysfunctional families has never been as important, nor on the minds of politicians as much as the present. A select committee is still to report on the Care of Children Bill, a bill aimed at offering a framework for resolving issues around the care of children when the relationship between parents breaks down.

Another select committee has just finished looking into the Families Commission Bill, but couldn't resolve a simple issue as to how to define what a family is. So they included everybody - including themselves as a select committee or caucus could be deemed a "family" - and refused to report back to Parliament. So much for resolving issues!

Associate Justice Minister Lianne Dalziel, architect of the Care of Children Bill, says the bill is based on rights and best interests of the child, as opposed to the "ideal family" of the old 1968 Guardianship Act, which is to be repealed upon the passage of the bill.

But what is that 'ideal' family - mum, dad and the kids? It was in 1968. Still is some folk reckon. If families don't fit into that ideal, how can relationship equvilence be promoted by our Government when there's a veiled admission that some family forms are ideal and others aren't. Wouldn't it be better to admit that some family forms are better than others while providing support for those that need it?

However Dalziel says of kids in dysfunctional families, "It is whom they regard as their parents that matters, and it would be wrong to fail to provide for the protection of children whose parents do not match that ideal".

Yet it is more who the Government regards as a child's parents that matters more in terms of legal rights. If Dalziel was serious, she would explain why the Government is attempting to provide all step parents legal parenting rights from day one of moving in with a child's mother, when some of these kids don't regard these people as their parents? People like Bruce Howse, who killed his two step daughters, one of whom earlier scrawled in her diary " My dad is going to kill me". Did she regard Howse as her loving nurturing parent? Take a mum on the DPB who lives with her four kids in a leaky state house in Otara. Is she likely to provide for her four children the same as a married mother in Remuera, who, along with her husband, is earning a high income, has the house paid off and the kids in a creche that cost more per week than the sole mum is getting on the DPB? The United Nations doesn't think so and noted in its latest report on New Zealand that single parent families are disproportionally affected by less than positive outcomes. So it is not possible to promote the best interests of the child and a diversity of relationship equivalence in terms of functionality as they are ultimately mutually exclusive.

Not that you`d get that admission out of Social Services Minister Steve Maharey, who is responsible for the Families Commission bill. He considers that sole parent families are just as good as two parent families, and told me last week that if a family provides nurturing, support, love and clear boundaries for the behaviour of children then it is likely to succeed. Maharey maintains that instead of arguing a return to the nuclear family, he wants to "acknowledge the diversity of families and judge their success on the outcomes they achieve."

Yet outcomes achieved are more likely to be positive within the two parent biological family.

Last week a foster father was convicted for killing a child placed in his care by Child Youth and Family. The reason he is dead? The boy had popcorn that didn't belong to him and his foster parent didnt like him having it. Tamati Pokaia was another in a growing list of children that have been failed by Child, Youth and Family Services and killed by their male care giver. Also dead are Coral Burrows, Tangaroa Matiu, Lillybing, James Whakaruru, Olympia Jetson and Saliel Aplin, all failed by Child, Youth and Family and all killed by stepfathers who who was supposed to be providing necessities of life for these children. However the only interest these men appeared to have in these collectives was shacking up with the childs' mums.

Note that none of these children were killed after being referred to CYF where the mother was living with the child's biological father. Thats because children living with their mum and dad - particularly in a married family - are less likely to get referred to CYF, let alone abused subsequently - although I`m sure it has happened. Children brought up in two parent biological families in New Zealand are more likely to be nurtured, supported, and achieve positive outcomes. Those who live with their mum and her boyfriend are much more likely to be abused.

It is about time those such as the Minister of Social Engineering, Steve Maharey, along with fellow childless lefties Liane Dalziel, Helen Clark and Margaret Wilson understood how children are brought up and nurtured. Having kids is a great start. Then they could come out from behind the shadows of their promotion of diversity of relationships, idealogy, and relationship equivalence to promote policies, including those for children, based on a good dose of common sense.


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