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Child abuse and neglect cases down

Child abuse and neglect cases down

Child, Youth and Family statistics show that the number of substantiated cases of child abuse and neglect has dropped since 1999, in spite of an increase in notifications, Child, Youth and Family Minister Ruth Dyson said today.

“Child, Youth and Family is working hard to educate the wider community about child abuse and neglect, and to encourage people to let the department know when they have concerns. The increase in notifications shows that this approach is working, and New Zealanders are taking more responsibility for protecting children and young people.

“However, many calls to the department do not result in a finding of child abuse or neglect after further investigation. In fact, the number of substantiated cases of child abuse and neglect dropped from 9227 to 9083 in the four years to the end of June 2003. This occurred in spite of an increase in both the total population and in the number of notifications.

“Last year, to give a more accurate picture, withdrawn cases were not included in the figures, and for the year ending June 2004, the number of substantiated cases was 8992.”

Ruth Dyson said she had confidence in the strategies and actions the department had put in place to manage the increased number of notifications.

“Child, Youth and Family has made it a top priority to immediately investigate cases of a critical or very urgent nature. Planned changes to the Children, Young Persons and Their Families Act will improve our response to notifications where children and young people are not at immediate risk of harm. This includes giving non-governmental organisations and other approved bodies a role in identifying the care and protection or support needs (if any) of the child or young person, and the services they may need.”

As a result of last year’s baseline review of the department, Ms Dyson said the government had invested an additional $120 million in Child, Youth and Family, and 150 extra social workers were being employed. She said government agencies were also working together more closely to identify and provide interventions for at-risk families.

“New initiatives include the creation of family and community services within the Ministry of Social Development, and family safety teams which are to take a new approach to reducing family violence and protecting children.”

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