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The Column: Families An Endangered Species


The Column: Families An Endangered Species

By Muriel Newman

Amid ongoing concerns about the Government’s sinister anti-family agenda – and the detrimental effect it could have on children in the future – figures released by the Department of Child Youth and Family paint a grim picture of the immediate outlook for tens of thousands of New Zealand children.

The number of notifications of potential child abuse in the year to June 2003 rose an astonishing 15 percent to 31,781. Next year, the number of cases referred to CYF – due to concerns over physical or sexual abuse, or neglect – is expected to increase to more than 34,000.

New Zealand now has enough at-risk children to almost populate a city – but it doesn’t end there. Children learn their behaviour from parents. Those raised in violent, abusive families are likely to become violent and abusive parents themselves.

The point is this: if we care about children’s rights to grow up being loved and nurtured instead of harmed, and we want to see child abuse notifications reducing instead of growing, then surely we have an urgent obligation to address the root causes of the problem. That is particularly important given that the Care of Children Bill, which is designed to modernise laws about the care of children, is now in front of a Parliamentary Select Committee.

To turn the situation around, the first step is to examine the evidence about the family structures in which at-risk children are being cared, to see whether changes can be made here. Overwhelmingly, children referred to CYF are being raised in families where their biological parents are not married – nor even living together – and where there is usually a history of benefit dependence. In comparison, the family structure least represented in those awful statistics is the traditional married nuclear family.

In light of that, it seems unfathomable that the Care of Children Bill not only fails to mention marriage, but actually deletes reference to the traditional nuclear family from the legislation.

In it’s explanatory note, the Bill states that “Family and ethnic demographics in New Zealand have changed considerably since the 1968 Guardianship Act was enacted. The 1968 Act is premised upon a traditional nuclear family model that does not reflect the diversity of family arrangements that now exist in New Zealand. More modern legislation must provide a framework that recognises and supports all types of family units that care for children, for example, single-parent households, extended families, reconstituted families, and de-facto relationships (including those of the same sex)”.

By excluding the traditional family, the Bill will essentially devalue marriage, relegating it to a status no longer even worthy of mention in law. Is that what we really want?

Labour’s obsession with undermining marriage and the nuclear family is, I suspect, an area of deep concern to most New Zealanders. That is why, I’m encouraging people who feel strongly about the future of children in this country to think – not only about preparing a submission to the Bill but also – about passing this column on to everyone they know who believes that the traditional married family is worthy of protection.

In order to better understand why political parties would want to devalue marriage and the family, I asked our Parliamentary Library to provide some background reading.

It appears that Labour’s anti-family agenda springs from its socialist ideological roots: the Communist Manifesto in 1848 called for “the abolition of the family”.

Closer to home and closer to our times, the Autumn 2000 issue of the Socialist Review Aotearoa New Zealand describes the nuclear family as an instrument of capitalism. It argues that the nuclear family represses women and must be replaced if women are to be liberated from oppression within a capitalist society.

The Spring issue claims that “anyone who wants to fight for women’s liberation should be a Marxist”, and describes the struggle in Russia: “The Russian Revolution of October 1917 introduced rights for women then unheard of in the rest of the world. Not just the right to vote, but equal pay, equal opportunity in jobs and education, free abortion and contraception, free maternity care, paid maternity leave and free childcare, easy civil marriage and divorce and on and on”.

The goal of liberating women from their traditional family role as child-rearers and home-makers achieved such success in the Revolution that, by 1920, over 60 percent of the Moscow’s population, and up to 90 percent of the inhabitants in some other Russian cities, were being fed in communal kitchens. Communal living was increasingly popular and children, freed from the protective bonds of their parents, were more easily indoctrinated with Communist propaganda.

In the US, the Freedom Socialist Party describes itself as a “revolutionary, socialist feminist organisation”. It states, “Revolutionary socialism is the logical road for sexual minorities who stand apart from the bourgeois nuclear family and who wish to end the long centuries of persecution. Because of their special oppression, lesbians are a particularly militant component of all social movements”.

It certainly seems that the Labour Government’s present attack on the family – supported, astonishingly, by the United Future party – is not isolated. It is part of their sinister socialist agenda. They will succeed, unless enough New Zealanders realise what is going on and oppose their plan. The battleground is the Care of Children Bill. Submissions on it close on September 25th. If you want to fight for the family, I urge you to roll up your sleeves, click below and get started.

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