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Increased Monitoring of Abuse Naïve and Flawed

28 February 2012 Embargoed Until Tuesday 28 February

Increased Monitoring of Abuse Naïve and Flawed

Family First NZ has submitted their response to the Green Paper on Vulnerable Children. They are rejecting the proposals of increased monitoring of families in order to ‘catch’ child abusers, and are calling for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into child abuse rather than a piece-meal responses from the government of the day.

“The research has already been done on the risk factors for a child. The issue is whether we are willing to accept them, and then tackle them,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. “It is also essential that we remove ‘political posturing’ and ‘point-scoring’ from the process. The response of various political parties to the Green Paper and the failure to have a cross-party approach on such an important issue speaks for itself. The issue of child abuse needs to be removed from politicians and overseen by a Royal Commission of Inquiry.”

“We also need an independent CYF Complaints Authority. Children are also vulnerable when they or their parents experience unjustified intrusion into the family and unwarranted separation. CYF are able to intervene in families without having to prove concrete evidence of abuse. This power must be suitably monitored, for the sake of our children, and to ensure that children do not suffer ‘state-sanctioned’ child abuse.”

Family First is also rejecting calls for the monitoring of all children in an attempt to catch child abuse.

“Our submission quotes senior social workers who correctly say that widening the safety-net as a ‘silver bullet’ is a naïve response that has the potential to destabilise families and create an overburdened system that fails to respond appropriately to at-risk families,” says Mr McCoskrie. “All the evidence shows this is already happening.”

Family First’s submission calls on politicians to amend the anti-smacking law.

“We are distracting our frontline services from targeting and monitoring at-risk children and rotten parents, which is where the real focus should be. Notifications to CYF are going through the roof, and the police are wasting time investigating cases where more than nine out of 10 don’t even warrant prosecution. The political obsession with banning smacking – while well intentioned - has cost New Zealand the time and resources needed to target actual child abuse. It has done more harm than good.”

Other recommendations include promoting a ‘marriage culture’ as a structure which provides the safest environment for children as evidenced by family violence statistics, and accepting the recommendations of the Law Commission regarding alcohol law reform - recognising that alcohol is a significant contributory factor to child maltreatment

Family First’s submission makes seven recommendations:
1. Establish a non-political Royal Commission of Inquiry into Child Abuse, Family Breakdown and Family Violence
2. Adopt all the recommendations of the Law Commission report on Alcohol
3. Promote Marriage
4. Amend the anti-smacking law
5. Appoint an independent CYF Complaints Authority
6. Better information sharing between agencies involved with at-risk families
7. Improve antenatal care – especially for young parents

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