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Stronger Sentences For Child Tormentors Needed

Stronger Sentences For Child Tormentors Needed

The government has been urged to introduce legislation that will allow judges to impose tougher sentences for violent crimes against children.

Executive Director of For the Sake of Our Children Trust, Christine Rankin, has made the call following the sentencing this week of Invercargill man Raniera Wairau to four years in prison.

Wairau twisted the legs and left arm of his two-week-old baby boy, Ihaka, so forcefully he broke them. Ihaka also suffered four fractured ribs and screamed when he was moved. Doctors said the injuries could have been life threatening.

The officer in charge of the investigation, Detective Constable Scott McKenzie, described Ihaka’s injuries as horrific and said they represented the worst case of child abuse he had dealt with.

“This is an appalling case,” says Ms Rankin. “Four years for torturing a child simply is not good enough.

“It sends a message that we do not value or care for our at-risk children.

“It’s time judges were given the power to sentence terrible crimes such as this in a more appropriate manner.”

Ms Rankin says the case of little Ihaka is another illustration of New Zealand’s shameful child abuse statistics.

It’s estimated 10 children die a year at the hands of their caregivers. Of 27 OECD countries, New Zealand is the third worst for child deaths.

And according to the Ministry of Social Development’s 2005 social report, there are 20 reported cases of child abuse and neglect every day.

“Children are innocent and look to adults for protection,” says Ms Rankin. “But the terrible fact is that many of those people who should be providing that care and love, are the ones who are maiming and killing our babies.

“How many other children must suffer before we finally do something about this epidemic?”

Ms Rankin says ordinary people should not feel powerless.

“Anyone can lobby their MP,” she says. “It’s time all of us acted to force change.”


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