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Kahui Case Highlights Child Abuse Investment

News release

Kahui case costs would go a long way to preventing child abuse, says family violence expert

A family violence expert says the $1.15 million spent by police on the unsuccessful prosecution of the father of the Kahui twins puts New Zealand’s investment in preventing child abuse into stark perspective.

Dr Annabel Taylor is chair of the Family Help Trust, and a senior lecturer in social work at the University of Canterbury. She says the amount spent by police on the trial would save up to 60 vulnerable infants if invested in early intervention programmes to prevent abuse.

“Each year, in Christchurch alone, there are 500 children born who are at the highest risk of being abused, due to the circumstances they are born into. Using proven early intervention methods, it is possible to work intensively with these families to give their children a more positive future and reduce the risk that they will suffer abuse. It costs around $6,000 per annum to provide that service to one child by supporting and educating their parents, which is demonstrably the most effective way to prevent our infants being abused or killed as the Kahui twins were.

“It is sadly ironic that the money spent by police on bringing this prosecution could not be used in a more positive way to support the many children in our society who are at risk of family violence in the same way that the Kahui twins were,” she said.

Dr Annabel Taylor teaches social policy and social work practice at the University of Canterbury School of Social Work and Human Services.

She is also chair of the Family Help Trust, which provides child abuse prevention services to the most vulnerable infants, from birth up to five years, working intensively with their families to provide support through basic health and education programmes. Financed by a mix of government funding and charitable donations, the Family Help Trust has resources to work with around 40 children born in Christchurch each year.

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