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Child Abuse Debate Punitive And Ineffective

MEDIA RELEASE

4 September 2000

Graham Capill
Party Leader

CHILD ABUSE DEBATE PUNITIVE AND INEFFECTIVE

Party Leader Graham Capill, slowly returning to work over the next two weeks after recovering from a heart attack, has criticised the child abuse debate initiated by the Commissioner for Children as “punitive and therefore totally ineffective”.

Mr Capill said, “The focus has been solely on catching perpetrators of child abuse – a punitive approach at best which ignores underlying family problems.”

Commenting on news that the ACC is now reporting to Child, Youth and Family cases where there are ten or more claims of injury in a family, Mr Capill said he was concerned that New Zealand was becoming a police state.

Apart from possible breaches of the Privacy Act, Mr Capill said, “I have five main concerns:
1. Innocent families will be dealt with suspiciously by an agency (CYF) that already has a reputation for botched inquiries.
2. Large families will easily become the target of inquiry. The more children one has, the more visits to the doctor for injury occur. It is of concern that such a simple factor appears to have been overlooked.
3. Families concerned they might be approaching their ten visits will look to alternative outlets for treatment, such as pharmacists or self help. This may result in further injury to children who are denied the help they deserve.
4. Doctors will be dragged into child abuse debates whether they want to or not. CYF has already said they will ask doctors for their comments once a family has been suspected of abuse. It may also affect the number of return visits they request of their patients, knowing that a simple injury could have sinister repercussions.
5. What is ACC doing policing child abuse? Surely that goes beyond their mandate to compensate for injuries.

“Personally, I have little faith in Child, Youth and Family to be discerning in detecting genuine child abuse. Of greater concern is the hours spent pursuing genuine injury cases instead of promoting good family life.

The Christian Heritage Party believes that prevention is better than cure. The Commissioner for Children needs to focus on preventative measures rather than ‘seek and destroy’ missions.

What should be done:
1. Recognise that much abuse occurs following family break up. Resources and practical help need to be made available to stop separation.
2. Recognise the hypocrisy of pursuing child abuse while condoning abortion. Violence against the unborn child sets a societal mindset that such abuse is acceptable providing there is consent by adults. The innocent child is ignored. Why does the Commissioner for Children not pursue the death of 15,000 unborn children, most commonly destroyed for social reasons? I suggest because it is not politically correct to do so.
3. We need economic initiatives which will encourage commitment to the nuclear family. Such things as income splitting for married couples and a ‘Home Carers’ Allowance’ to enable one spouse to stay at home would ease pressures that create dysfunctional families.
4. We need a radical change of emphasis in the values we teach children in schools. Too often the focus is on individual rights and social experiments with sexuality that lead to attitudes associated with child abuse. Values such as love, care, respect and discipline would promote better citizens and be more likely to prevent abuse.

“The government needs to encourage a positive campaign rather than the punitive one unfolding. Unless this happens, child abuse will continue while everyone will be suspicious of everyone else and pressure on innocent families will increase,” Mr Capill concluded.

Contact: Party Leader Graham Capill (021) 661 766

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