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Govt must address child abuse rates

Govt must address child abuse rates

National Party Welfare spokeswoman Katherine Rich says Labour must take urgent action to curb a disturbing rate of child abuse.

She's commenting after the release of a Unicef report, which shows New Zealand has the third-highest rate of child-abuse deaths among 26 OECD countries.

The report found New Zealand's child abuse death rates were six times higher than Spain, Greece, Italy, Ireland, and Norway.

"One of the claims in this Government's Social Security policy is that it wants to 'build a better life' for our children, but these new statistics prove that's not happening," says Mrs Rich.

"The Government has had plenty of warning about the rising tide of violence against our most vulnerable.

"In 2003 the number of notifications about potential child abuse to Child Youth and Family increased by a staggering 15% to nearly 32,000, next year that's expected to climb still further.

"And this Government's record is dismal," Mrs Rich says.

"Labour has failed to implement recommendations in a December 2000 report by former Principal Youth Court Judge Mick Brown and all the while, the CYF waiting list has been growing.

"More reports have been commissioned since, but still CYF is facing huge problems.

"The agency's struggling to recruit and retain social workers and it has more than 2600 unallocated cases on its books.

"Each one of those cases is a potential time bomb, which the Government can no longer afford to ignore," Mrs Rich says

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