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Academic describes “Maori child abuse” phrase as “racist”

Media Release 27 December 2011

Academic describes “Maori child abuse” phrase as “racist”

AUT University academic Dr. Paul Moon has called on the media and government agencies to cease using the term “Maori child abuse” on the basis that it racist.

“There is no such thing as Maori child abuse or Pakeha child abuse”, says Professor Moon, “there is just child abuse. By putting the word “Maori” in front of it, a stereotype is created which is inaccurate and dangerous”.

“The vast majority of Maori parents, like the vast majority of all other parents, do a fantastic job of raising their children”, he says.

The historian points to ethnic-based stereotyping that occurred in New Zealand in the 1900s directed against Dalmatians, in the 1920s directed against Chinese and Indians, in the 1940s against Japanese, and in the 1970s against Polynesians, and sees a similar pattern recurring in the debate about Maori child abuse.

“By highlighting the ethnicity in this way, a stigma is placed on all Maori parents, and there is growing anecdotal evidence of this”, says Professor Moon. “To some extent, all Maori parents are tarred with this brush”, he says.

Professor Moon points to a double standard in the reporting of certain areas of criminal offending. “If a Maori parent abuses a child, it automatically becomes “Maori child abuse”, yet when a Pakeha is involved in corporate crime, the ethnicity of the offender is almost never mentioned, and certainly, we have never seen the term “Pakeha corporate criminal” used by the media or government agencies”.


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