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Complaint Over CYF Care Of Teen Stripper

Hon Nick Smith
Nelson MP

09 December 2003

Smith Lays Complaint Over CYF Care Of Teen Stripper

Nelson MP Nick Smith has laid a formal complaint with the Children's Commissioner over a 15-year-old girl in the care of Child Youth and Family who was found working as a stripper during the weekend.

"It is a disgrace and yet another example of CYF failing to properly provide for young people in its care.

"If this young person was living with their family, their care would be subject to an investigation by the Department and potentially the teenager would be removed," Dr Smith says.

"When the Department is the carer, the Children's Commissioner is the only place to go."

Dr Smith was informed by the girl's family who are at their wits end trying to get help for her. While it would be illegal for the girl to work as a prostitute, there is nothing to stop her working as a stripper.

"The law is simply wrong in allowing a girl as young as 15 to be working as a stripper. It should be changed so no one under the age of 18 can work in these establishments.

"This case is proof that under the new liberal prostitution laws, it is inevitable that more young women will be dragged into the sex industry, just as drinking among teenagers increased with the lower alcohol age.

"The girl's family say she is totally out of control. The Department has failed in its duty to ensure she goes to school and there are fears she'll get further into trouble.

"Every child in the Department's care should be in school and if their behaviour is too bad for a mainstream school, they should be placed in specialist residential schools.

"Sadly the Labour Government continues to ignore this approach in the mistaken view that somehow the community can cope with these youths. The policy needs to be changed before there is another tragedy."

Dr Smith says he wants all these issues investigated by the Children's Commissioner, not just for the sake of the girl and the family concerned, but also for the sake of others facing similar circumstances.

"I hope a thorough investigation will fuel support for a law change that would better protect young women from the exploitative sex industry, " says Dr Smith.

Ends

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