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Buddies get leaders talking about child abuse

5 November 2013

Buddies get leaders talking about child abuse

Buddies waiting for adoption on Buddy Day

The country’s leaders are getting behind Buddy Day which aims to bring the nation’s awareness to the issue of child abuse and the role every adult has in keeping children safe.

From the 12 – 15 November MPs have been asked to carry around a mini cardboard child – or Buddy – to encourage all adults to step up and speak up for vulnerable children if they suspect they are being abused.

In Parliament, a special event will be held on Tuesday, 12 November, where politicians will adopt Buddies. MPs will take their Buddies with them for the rest of the week to select committee meetings, and where possible back to their electorates on Friday where they will talk to their constituents about Buddy Day.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett has confirmed she will be adopting a Buddy. The Governor-General , Lt Gen Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae, is also supporting the cause.

The Governor-General will be presented his Buddy by children from Wellington’s Northland School at a special presentation on Monday, 11 November at 9am at Government House.

Sir Jerry said educating and empowering adults to speak up if they suspected child abuse was part of the solution to preventing it. “Children can’t prevent child abuse, but adults can and there is something every adult can do. We can speak up for children and show them that we care by adopting a Buddy on Buddy Day.”

Child Matters is responsible for organising Buddy Day – which is believed to be New Zealand’s only public event which brings into the wider community an awareness of the issue of child abuse and the role every adult has in keeping children safe.

Child Matters chief executive Anthea Simcock said child abuse has been described as perhaps being New Zealand’s single most important public health challenge, costing the country around $6B in poor child outcomes resulting from early childhood trauma and neglect.

“New Zealand has one of the highest rates of death by child abuse out of 31 OECD countries. And for every child death in our community, there are thousands more children being harmed and neglected,” said Mrs Simcock.

Buddy Day proper revolves around life-sized cardboard children – ‘Buddies’ – which are decorated by school children prior to the event which are then adopted by adults who look after the Buddies for the day, taking them into their communities and workplaces to generate conversations about child abuse and the responsibility every adult has to help protect children.

Buddy Day is being held in central Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga and Wellington.

Across the four cities, 1074 Buddies will be adopted by influential business people, celebrities, politicians, iwi, community leaders, social advocates and members of the public.

The 1074 Buddies represent 20 per cent of the substantiated cases of child abuse in these regions last year. In Central Auckland alone there were 1,681 cases of substantiated abuse, which will be represented by 336 Buddies.

A number of New Zealand celebrities, athletes and politicians including actors Mike Edwards and Tim Foley, and Eric Murray are also adopting Buddies for the day or championing the cause.

The lead up to Buddy Day formally kicked off in October with thousands of school children starting the process of creating Buddies.

Mrs Simcock said making Buddies is great fun for children who get very attached to their creations which become a big part of their lives for the two weeks leading up to Buddy Day. She added that there is a special message about Buddy Day for children.

“The learning for our children is about what a child needs to be safe, happy and healthy. Buddy Day demonstrates to children that adults are here to care for them and love them.”

“The great thing about Buddy Day is that it is a true community participation event – anyone can be involved, there’s no cost and it is not a fundraising event. We are simply asking adults to step up and show children that we do care and will do whatever we can to show that we will not accept child abuse in our communities.”

For more information about Buddy Day visit www.buddyday.org.nz
Buddy Day can be followed on Facebook at www.facebook.com/buddydaynz and Twitter at #buddyday_nz.

Sovereign Insurance is the principal sponsor of Buddy Day.


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