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Why the media indifference to latest child murder?

3 August 2006

Why the media indifference to latest child murder?

New Zealanders have been accused of indifference and apathy after the murder of yet another one of our children.

The three-year-old was admitted to hospital on January 31st with life-threatening injuries and died the following day.

Two days ago, the boy’s mother and her partner were committed for trial on a joint murder charge. All three have name suppression.

Executive Director of For the Sake of Our Children Trust, Christine Rankin, says she is astonished there has not been a huge outcry over the toddler’s death.

“Rightly so, the murder of the Kahui twins, Chris and Cru, dominated headlines,” says Ms Rankin. “But I wonder why there has not been greater outrage over this most horrific crime.

“Any case of abuse is appalling but this truly is one of the most dreadful I have come across.”

The police summary reveals that terrified little boy was so scared of his mother’s beatings he would attempt to hide the evidence when he soiled himself. He would try and wash his faeces down the sink or throw them out the window.

The day before he was admitted to hospital, police say his mother beat him with the metal handle of a broken oar, after discovering he had soiled his pants again.

Such was the severity of the attack, the boy’s left elbow was dislocated, and his entire body, including his genitals, were swollen and bruised.

When he wet his bed the next morning, police say his mother beat him again. When she was out, her partner beat the toddler with a baseball bat. Police say there were at least 50 to 60 blows to the child’s body.

When the mother came home, the child was unconscious but the mother did not want to call an ambulance because she didn’t want anyone to discover what had happened.

“I hope to goodness we are not becoming desensitized to what is going on in our community,” says Ms Rankin. “Just because our child abuse statistics are among the worst in the OECD, there is no reason to accept what is going on. This child’s murder – any child’s murder is shocking.”

Ms Rankin has also challenged the court’s decision to grant name suppression.

“If these people are indeed found guilty of such a terrible crime, this suppression must be overturned,” she says. “This is a crime which should not be kept secret.”

The little three-year-old is the latest in a long line of ghastly cases.

Every day 30 children are abused and neglected in New Zealand. Seven are admitted to hospital daily because of the injuries inflicted on them by assaults. And 10 children a year are murdered by their so-called caregivers.


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