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Children Dying: Ambulance Still at Bottom of Cliff

Our Children are Dying Because the Ambulance is Still at the Bottom of the Cliff

Home-based, long term, early intervention services need greater support say a leading Christchurch Social Services Agency

Following the release of the 2005 Social Report, which highlighted the almost doubling of the number of New Zealand children dying as the result of abuse since the 1980’s, Christchurch’s Family Help Trust believes more resources must be directed at early intervention programmes which are shown to have evaluative evidence of effectiveness.

Trust Clinical Services Manager, Bill Pringle, says that with all of the statistical information, studies and reports, which support the importance of early intervention work with families, it’s disappointing that we still haven’t embraced the success of effective early intervention programmes such as those run by the Trust and that there are still far too many ambulances at the bottom of the cliff.

“It was 1987 when the Roper Report noted that 80% of all violence was family based or in the home and identified family violence as "the cradle for the perpetration of violence and crime in the community". That’s a New Zealand report and it’s almost 20 years old. The warnings are still not being heeded and our children are still dying and being hurt,” says Mr Pringle

Non-intervention can cost 19 times more than the effective early intervention* carried out by the Family Help Trust. Family Violence costs the country an average of $1.2 billion a year.

“It costs us $5,000 a year to work intensively with a family. That’s a drop in the ocean when you consider the ongoing financial and social costs of generation after generation of dysfunctional families repeating the same mistakes. We can’t even begin to quantify the personal and emotional cost to the children and the family,” he says.

Bill Pringle says more resources and funding for effective early intervention services, working with families while children are very young or even before they are born, would make a huge difference to breaking the cycle of violence for New Zealand children and their families.

*(Source: 1992 Michigan Study)


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