Roger McClay Community Newspaper Column
1 November 2001
Commissioner for Children
Recently, I gave verbal support to the suggestion that we might well hold a day of shame about child abuse in New Zealand.
When the idea of a ‘shame’ initiative was first suggested to me I was immediately drawn to the idea of normal men and fathers throughout the country standing tall and declaring their abhorrence of child abuse and their condemnation of the spineless creeps who sexually abuse and rape children.
Child sexual abuse is an overwhelmingly male problem. Men need to make it clear that this is behaviour that is not tolerated in our Society.
At no time was support indicated to anyone by me about Fathers day being somehow a day of shame.
Initial reaction about a day of shame was given some backing, but in public statements since, I have said that "on reflection it would be better to find ways to have New Zealand men ‘on side’ in condemnation of all child abusers. Whilst at least two or three children per day continue to be violently sexually abused in New Zealand, everyone should feel some shame and anger.
How that anger or any shame should be used to promote a better deal for children needs careful consideration. In New Zealand we have probably the best and most caring fathers you could find anywhere, and it is those fathers I want to join me in confronting the cretins who violate our children.
Children have their rights and dignity violated by men and women. This should not be just a man or woman issue. However those who violate children need to hear from their peers that their behaviour is repugnant and unacceptable. Both Mothers day and Fathers day, like the recently held New Zealand Children’s day should be days of celebration and encouragement.
I regret the mistaken interpretation of my brief conversation with one Journalist, that any of these days should be days of shame.
I recommit my endeavours for children to see that their best interests are always paramount. That includes ensuring their rights to father and mother involvement in their lives. I absolutely need New Zealand men on my side on this issue and in that regard apologise to any male New Zealander who has felt aggrieved by any comments I’ve reportedly made.
I hope the focus will return to the issue of the disgraceful, violent abuse which too many of our children suffer at the hands of adults.
Abusers of children, both male and female make me angry. They need to be exposed and condemned by us all.