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Injury prevention & stopping violence on children

Injury prevention also about stopping violence against children, Children’s Commissioner says

Stopping violence against children is as much about injury prevention as ensuring children are wearing a cycle helmet or buckled into a car seat.

That’s according to Commissioner for Children Cindy Kiro, who is speaking at this week’s Injury Prevention Network of Aotearoa New Zealand (IPNANZ) Weaving the Strands 2003 Conference in Wellington.

Dr Kiro says people tend to think of injury prevention as taking steps to prevent unintentional injuries, but it is also about preventing intentional harm to children.

“The leading cause of death for children under 15 is drownings, followed by traffic-related deaths – both in motor vehicles and pedestrian fatalities – and then homicides. Some of these deaths are intentional, and some are not, but they can all be prevented.”

Dr Kiro says the Injury Prevention Network has proved extremely successful in promoting practical, straight-forward yet effective injury prevention messages, such as the “Belt-up” wearing of seatbelts campaign.

She wants the help of the network in finding similar public education messages to combat the many preventable deaths of children. Last month, UNICEF figures showed New Zealand’s levels of child abuse were third-worst in the developed world. “There are many everyday things that people can do to prevent harm to children. Ensuring children wear cycle helmets and seatbelts helps prevent unintentional harm. And there are also ways to stop intentional violence, such as adults learning not to lash out at children when they are frustrated, not to hit children with that plank of wood.”

Dr Kiro says injury prevention work often involves a broad-based approach to issues, involving multiple numbers of agencies. As a result the Injury Prevention Network has done some valuable work in fostering inter-agency co-operation, an approach vital to work aimed at stopping violence against children.

“Inter-agency co-operation is an area people tend to talk about, but it’s much easier to talk about than to do it.

“There are some barriers to inter-agency cooperation which need to be challenged, particularly the way government funding tends to flow through silos. That process is limited when you consider the ‘whole of child’ approach, particularly when you think about the multiple causes of injury and violence,” she says.

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