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Fundamental changes needed to make children safe

10 July, 2006


Media statement

Fundamental changes needed to make children safe

As political debate about the incidence of family violence continues, Every Child Counts* urges all political parties to focus on the most important issue: child safety.

“We welcome the determination by political parties to cooperate on efforts to reduce family violence and address the circumstances of children vulnerable to abuse. However, we are concerned that some MPs are being distracted by the issue of welfare dependence rather than maintaining a sharp focus on the priority issue of child safety,” said Every Child Counts spokesperson Murray Edridge.

““While there are demonstrable links between stressors, such as poverty, and child abuse, there is a need for political leadership that will result in a fundamental shift in the status of all New Zealand children whether or not their parents are on benefits.

“Regardless of employment status, we should be actively encouraging family members to support each-other and take an interest in the well being of all children. We also need to ensure that existing government processes work in the interests of all children.

“The deaths of the Kahui twins demonstrate, once again, the vulnerability of New Zealand children and highlight the urgent need for all Kiwis to make major changes to the way we perceive children, parenting and the acceptability of violence. Until these social and cultural changes occur, Chris and Cru will certainly not be the only infants to die through negligence and abuse.

“Certainly, there is a need for beneficiary families to be encouraged into work and to have their options increased, but children in these homes are not the only children in the nation who are vulnerable. We encourage politicians to ensure their work on family violence maintains its focus in the interests of all children,” concluded Mr Edridge.

*Every Child Counts is a coalition including Barnardos, Plunket, Save the Children, Unicef NZ and AUT’s Institute of Public Policy, supported by more than 350 other organisations and thousands of individual supporters.

ENDS

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