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Stopping Child Abuse Is Everyone’s Responsibility

All New Zealanders have a part to play in preventing child abuse and enhancing the well-being of children, says an innovative new public education programme from Child, Youth and Family.

The Everyday Communities programme will be launched today in Whakatane, which is hosting a six-week long pilot programme. Everyday Communities is a very new approach in that it seeks community ownership of, and participation in, the programme. It involves locally developed radio messages and collaboration between community partners to lift awareness of children’s issues and promote positive parenting.

In an advertisement in today’s local paper that kicks off the programme, Whakatane mayor Colin Hammond says: “Sadly, there is far too much abuse happening in our communities and Whakatane is no exception. I believe it’s time we stopped pointing the finger, we stopped blaming others and we all started to take some responsibility for it.”

The Whakatane pilot is the forerunner to a more extensive series of locally based programmes around the country next year. Whakatane was chosen as the pilot site as it is a small, self-contained community. The radio messages will include broadcasts from local people, such as a community constable and a youth worker. The programme will also take advantage of Children’s Day on 28 October, a public event next month and other activities to promote its objectives.

“The overall aim of the Everyday Communities programme is to encourage local communities to discuss and look at solutions to the particular child welfare issues that are relevant to their area,” says Child, Youth and Family’s public education team leader Marlane Welsh-Morris.

“We’re really pleased with the support Everyday Communities is getting from others in Whakatane, including the police and the local Ngati Awa Social and Health Services. Working together, we hope to make a real difference by developing local solutions to local problems.”

For the full programme, not just the pilot, Child, Youth and Family is making $500,000 available to help pay for local radio messages nationwide, while another $300,000 will help pay for educational material such as booklets and posters. (more follows)

“This type of educational work is very important in helping to protect children from danger and to enhance their overall well-being,” says Ms Welsh-Morris. “We must all watch out for our children. They are our treasures. New Zealanders are not prepared to tolerate the types of child abuse cases we have seen in recent years. Everyone can do something to make a difference for the better in the lives of children.”

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