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Action must follow awareness

29 June 2005

Action must follow awareness

Plunket congratulates Principal Youth Court Judge Andrew Becroft for again highlighting the urgency of reaching at risk children as early as possible.

"This has always been front page news for Plunket and others that work with children and families," says Kaye Crowther, President of the Royal New Zealand Plunket Society.

"It is through a combined approach, with all sectors working together, that the most at-risk families will be reached and suitable intervention provided. Early interventions cost the least and work the best. It costs about $5,000 to work with an aggressive 5-year-old, with a success rate of about 70%. Changing the same behaviour in a 20-year-old will cost society about four times that much, with a success rate of only one in five.

"Judge Becroft has rightly said that comprehensive early intervention would be available if the community really took criminal offending seriously. Given what is known about early child development and risk factors such as disobedience, no interest in learning, and children abusing animals, it is time for action to follow that awareness.

"Along with improved resourcing for community and government organisations working with families and children at risk, other actions might include establishing better links between organisations well-placed to identify and respond.

"Like Plunket, the Youth Court and FirstStrike1 there are hundreds of groups who recognise the danger faced by many of our children and the impact on society and our economy of failing to address their needs. We urge Government and all New Zealanders to recognise the importance of all children and take appropriate action in support of them," concluded Mrs Crowther.

ENDS

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