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Our kids are in crisis

July 16 2004

Our kids are in crisis

The Child Development Foundation is calling for a whole new approach to the escalating problem of child abuse in New Zealand.

Foundation national director Gaye Moriarty says statistics released by Child Youth and Family this week which show a big increase in the number of suspected child abuse cases being reported, probably under states the true situation which could be even higher.

She says our kids are in crisis, and it is time for every New Zealander to become involved and take some responsibility for what's happening.

"We've got to be able to say to people it's not acceptable if we see them hitting their kid around the head or being abusive with a kid on the sports field on in the supermarket," she says. "That takes a brave person because most people simply don't want to get involved, but if we don't get involved, then how many more thousands of children will be damaged?"

Ms Moriarty says throwing more money at CYFs will not provide a solution to the problem, and it is time to rethink our entire strategy and involve local agencies.

"It needs to come down to a community level - communities have to take some sort of responsibility," she says. "It has to be broken down to a local issue and rather than looking at a big bureaucracy, we've got to look at setting up something in local areas that can work for children. If we moved away from a big government bureaucracy in favour of bringing local agencies together, we may be able to deliver more.

"I'd like to see local agencies such as Barnardos, churches and councils work together to set up some type of local organisation working towards the objectives of strengthening families and creating safer communities for our children."

Ms Moriarty says adding to her concern is the fact that the numbers are continuing to increase.

The Child Development Foundation is a charitable educational trust established to develop, implement, monitor and promote educational programmes directed towards the development and enhancement of personal and social skills in children and young people.

The Foundations programmes provide school age children with skills and awareness to be able to take action to protect themselves if they in a situation where they being abused.

Ms Moriarty says attention has to be paid to providing a mechanism that can respond to children in need - which will listen to them and provide help.

All to often she says, there is no help available.

ENDS

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