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Children’s Commissioner welcomes UN Study

Children’s Commissioner welcomes recommendations of UN Study on Violence Against Children

Speaking from New York where she is attending the launch of the Report on Violence Against Children at the United Nations Assembly, Children’s Commissioner, Dr Cindy Kiro, has welcomed the report’s recommendations which have particular relevance to New Zealand.

The UN Study of Violence Against Children is the result of a two-year international study to look at violence committed against children and what can be done about it. Information has been complied from 133 countries around the world. The Study found that violence against children exists throughout the world – in both industrialised and developing countries.

The author of the Report, Independent Expert Paulo Sergio Pinheiro said, “The Study should mark a turning point – an end to adult justification of violence against children, whether accepted as ‘tradition’ or disguised as ‘discipline’. There can be no compromise in challenging violence against children. Children’s uniqueness – their potential and vulnerability, their dependence on adults – makes it imperative that they have more, not less, protection from violence.“

“The Study draws attention to the unacceptable scale and nature of violence throughout the world and details ways to tackle this very important issue,” said Dr Kiro.

“Among key recommendations are that governments should ensure child protection systems are adequately staffed and resourced, and that there should be co-ordination with other sectors involved with child care such as health, education, social welfare and justice. It also recommends that the number of children coming into conflict with the law is minimised and that comprehensive child-friendly juvenile justice systems which aim to rehabillitate children and divert them away from criminalisation are established. “

“The New Zealand government has invested in our child protection systems and continues to have a youth justice system focused on rehabilitation. It has also announced a number of initiatives that acknowledge the need to co-ordinate the needs of children across health, education and welfare systems, and has begun comprehensive work on addressing family violence, as recommended by the Report. However, implementation of a national plan is required to further prevent violence against children.”

“Repeal of Section 59 of the Crimes Act (1961) is a fundamental and and necessary step to ensure that children in New Zealand grow up in safe and secure environments free from all forms of violence.”

Children themselves highlighted, in the UN Report, the physical and psychological hurt they suffer as a result of these forms of treatment and proposed positive and effective alternative forms of discipline.

“As Children’s Commissioner I am encouraging New Zealand to adopt an Intergrated Framework Te Ara Tukutuku Nga Whanaungatanga o Nga Tamariki to make it possible to deliver more effective and co-ordinated services for every child. This framework will apply to every child, and will mean that education, health, and safety issues are assessed in a consistent way. This will take into account the whole child; their physical, social, educational, emotional, spiritual and psychological development,” says Dr Kiro.

“The UN Report’s recommendations confirm that we are moving in the right direction but considerably more resources and work must be dedicated to stopping violence against children.”

Ends

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