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Child, Youth and Family Service not the problem

For immediate use
Friday 17 October 2003

Child, Youth and Family Service not the problem

“Child, Youth and Family Service may or may not be in crisis,” said Murray Edridge, Chief Executive of Barnardos, “but that’s not the problem.”

“New Zealander’s attitudes are the problem,” he continued. “The reasons for child abuse are complex, but well researched. It is time to get away from finger pointing, have reasoned discussion, and work together in promoting solutions.”

Child abuse is at the end of the day an individual responsibility. But there are a number of social conditions in which it flourishes. Let’s insist the Government address effectively those conditions. Child abuse flourishes when -
- an education system does not provide training in the techniques of good parenting;
- support services in the community are inadequately available to families under stress;
- families can’t pay the bills because of poverty;
- housing is unavailable, unaffordable, overcrowded;
- the law does not offer zero tolerance to violence against children, and gives parents an ambiguous message about violence towards children.

“We know what needs to be done. Mr Mallard could review the curriculum from this perspective. Mr Maharey could look further at the range and quality of support services including Child Youth and Family. Dr Cullen, with his huge government surplus, has an unprecedented opportunity to reduce one of the primary stress factors, poverty, by significantly improving assistance to low income families. Mr Goff has a great opportunity to remove the legal ambiguity by repealing section 59 and offering children the same zero tolerance to violence as offered women.”

“So let’s stop the criticisms and get on with it. And let’s leave Child, Youth and Family Services alone – they are not the problem, they are simply the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff,” concluded Murray Edridge.


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