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No Excuse For Child Abuse - ACT

No Excuse For Child Abuse - ACT

Tuesday 6th Jul 1999
Muriel Newman
Media Release -- Social Welfare

In a joint statement today ACT Social Welfare Spokesman Muriel Newman and Maori Affairs Spokesman Donna Awatere Huata said there is absolutely no excuse for child abuse.

The MPs, who are campaigning to strengthen families, said children are bearing the brunt of the anger and frustration within families in crisis.

"It is easy to understand the frustration of American expert on child abuse Dr Astrid Heger who has been visiting New Zealand for 11 years and has seen no progress on child abuse. The disproportionate suffering of our children continues to get worse.

"We have been too busy in this country making excuses for the suffering being inflicted on our children to actually front up and stop it. There is no excuse for the deaths, the broken bones, the child hoods stolen by fear, the neglect. The children of this country deserve better.

"This issue needs leadership and strong voices speaking out on behalf of the children who are imprisoned by fear. Dr Heger is right that Government and all politicians have a role to play in that leadership. They have a responsibility to ensure that the laws in this country strengthen the family, not weaken it. Further, they have an obligation to provide a growing economy so families can work to get ahead.

"Child abuse must confronted head on by all of us. Children need strong families with parents giving them the love and attention they deserve. Child abuse occurs in the home, that is where the answer lies.

"This issue needs leadership and strong voices speaking out on behalf of the children who are imprisoned by fear. Dr Heger is right that Government and all politicians have a role to play in that leadership.

"However, ultimately the only people who can stop the hurt are the abusers themselves. The parents and caregivers whose fists and boots are drawing blood on their child's skin have to realise that what they are doing is criminal and break the cycle.

"We need to be working very closely with these parents and caregivers and their children. Programmes like Family Start are saving the babies in families at risk from violence and abuse. These programmes are teaching parents the skills needed to care for their babies. Welfare cheques are not the solution to this tragic problem.

"ACT is a strong advocate of parenting programmes. We cannot leave our children languishing in houses of horror - we have to get professionals in those homes to teach parents the skills, break the cycle of abuse and neglect, and give our babies the start in life that they deserve.

"If we don't get on and confront child abuse now, we are condemning another generation of children to violence and abuse at the hands of their parents because violence breeds violence," they said.


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