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Attempts to Shut Down Child Abuse Debate Shameful


Attempts to Shut Down Child Abuse Debate "Shameful" Says Newman

Monday 21st Aug 2000 Dr Muriel Newman Media Release -- Social Welfare

Attempts by the Government to shut down the head of Women’s Refuge, Merepeka Raukawa-Tait, for speaking out about child abuse, is shameful and questions its commitment to ‘closing the gaps’, ACT Social Welfare Spokesman Muriel Newman said today.

“One of the reasons New Zealand has such shocking child abuse statistics is because the issue has been shrouded in a veil of ignorance,” Dr Newman. Said.

“Everyone pretends that it is not happening and that is why the problem is now exploding in front of us.

“When the Government ignores child abuse, it is no better than those families whose children are being abused and who fail to speak out – it is simply shameful.”

Dr Newman said domestic violence and child abuse were one of the biggest social problems facing the country.

“They are transmitted from one generation to another and until families admit that the problem exists and accept responsibility for changing their behaviour, the cycle will not be broken.”

Dr Newman said Maori were over-represented in domestic violence statistics and Merepeka Raukawa-Tait in particular has had the courage to speak out against the acceptance of violence within Maori whanau.

“She has called for Maori leadership to stop turning a blind eye to the problem and deserves praise for her courage, not criticism,” Dr Newman said.

She said Ms Raukawa-Tait’s attitude was also in sharp contrast to the Prime Minister who had blamed child abuse on poverty.

“The Prime Minister’s statement that child abuse is caused by poverty is simply ideological rubbish,” said Dr Newman. “We now have the Prime Minister, the Minister of Maori Affairs and the Associate Minister of Maori Affairs, all looking to hide behind a veil of ignorance and avoid a serious social issue that will haunt us well into the future.”

Dr Newman said she would not sit back and let the Government shut down the debate on the issue and indeed the Government's actions called into question its very ability to carry out the core policy of “closing the gaps.”

Dr Newman said she would also be seeking the support of all key non-government organisations, for a parliamentary select committee into child abuse “before more tragedies occur.”

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.


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