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Dyson loses credibility over Baby J

Katherine Rich National Party MP
19 March 2006

Dyson loses credibility over Baby J

Cabinet Minister Ruth Dyson has lost all credibility by backing a CYF decision to return a vulnerable baby, now in a vegetative state, to a mother who had seriously abused and starved two other children, says National MP Katherine Rich.

She is commenting on an internal CYF report, obtained under the Official Information Act and published today.

"Child Youth and Family's report into the case confirms there was 'considerable evidence' of risk of 'potentially serious neglect' of Baby J, and still he was left in his mother's care.

"Ruth Dyson, the Associate Minister for Social Development and Employment, clings to a narrow definition of what constitutes physical abuse.

"How can she think that the slow starvation of a toddler, who, at 20 months couldn't walk or smile and was the average weight of a Kiwi six-month-old baby, is not physical abuse? It's neglect, pure and simple.

"These cute delineations promoted by the Minister are of no consolation to Baby J and his siblings.

"The weak argument that though CYF assessed 'potentially serious neglect' it didn't pick that the mother would smash the baby, ignores that basic fact that an unsafe environment is an unsafe environment, particularly for vulnerable babies.

"Ruth Dyson's artificial distinctions between abuse and neglect might win points in a 4th form debate but in real life they are meaningless. CYF left the baby in an unsafe environment where the mother's tragic track record indicated something bad would happen.

"The Minister fails to understand that abusive parenting is not softball. It shouldn't have to be three strikes before you are out."

Mrs Rich is writing to the Children's Commissioner to seek her opinion on whether CYF acted in the best interests of Baby J.


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