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Every Child Counts miss the point

26 July 2006

Every Child Counts Conference continues to totally miss the point

Yet another government funded talkfest has either failed to, or is unwilling to, identify the real causes behind the high rate of child abuse in NZ.

"The best the Every Child Counts conference being held in Wellington is able to offer is to continue to try to persuade NZ'ers that smacking is the big problem," says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First, "and that child abuse rates will plummet when we treat parents who smack as child abusers. But according to every poll, over 80% of NZ'ers know that this is totally wrong."

"And Kiwi parents are concerned that social workers will remove children from homes if parents smack them. There are already cases of that happening, even with s59 still in place! Parents have every right to be concerned with the actions of CYF, and even more so if s59 is repealed," says Mr McCoskrie.

The questions we would put to the Every Child Counts conference are:

* why is it that 4 of the 5 countries with the lowest child abuse rate in the OECD have not banned smacking?

* why is it that Sweden, held up as a model country for being one of the first to ban smacking in 1979, has just set up a special commission to investigate the high number of cases where children die in violent circumstances in the hands of their parents?

* The UNICEF report into maltreatment (2003) identified substance abuse, family breakdown, poverty and stress as the key indicators for child abuse? Why is this information being ignored and good parenting practice being targeted?

* Do we want a situation like Sweden with twice as many children in foster care homes (per head of pop'n)?

In fact, in the Statement of Intent just released by the Ministry of Social Development, "when abuse, neglect or insecurity of care is reported to us, we assess and when necessary investigate the situation.. We involve Police, Health and Education agencies in investigations if necessary." It is quite clear that CYF is in the 'driving seat'.

"NZ parents are totally justified in opposing a bill that penalises good parents, refuses to acknowledge the real causes of child abuse, and opens families to even more intrusion by CYF and governmental agencies."

ENDS

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