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Keep Christmas Safe and Violence-Free for Children

Keep Christmas Safe and Violence-Free for Children

Southern District police are encouraging the wider community to enjoy a safe, peaceful and violence-free family Christmas during the festive season.

Southern District Family Violence co-ordinator Senior Sergeant Kelvin Lloyd said that sadly, there will be families in the Otago/Southland area that will be subject to family violence.

"Often it is the children, through no fault of their own, who are caught up in this violence. Rather than being a time for happiness and good cheer, the reality is that this time of year is a time of immense fear for many families in our communities," he said.

The festive period is one of the busiest for Southern District police and other agencies engaged in the fight against family violence.

"Like our partner agencies, we are unfortunately, preparing for the increase in calls to family homes where violence is occurring."

Nationally, police expect to attend about 11,000 family violence incidents between December and January.

Over the same period last year, Southern District Police attended 703 incidents, with 301 in Dunedin alone.

There are pressures on people at this time of year. They can be financial, relate to relationship or child custody issues and of course, alcohol plays a significant part in the escalation of violence in homes," Senior Sergeant Lloyd said.

"However, there are no excuses for violence."\

Police are working with partner agencies across the district in an effort to reduce the number of family violence incidents. Initiatives include the active involvement of police community staff in assisting families and encouraging them to think about their children before violence ruins what should be a festive period for everyone.

"We are trying to re-enforce the message, both to offenders and victims, that it is OK to ask for help and that you will be listened to."

Southern District police say that there are some practical tips that will assist everyone to have a safe and happy Christmas period:

•Set aside money to cover bills in January and February.

•Don't spend more in the lead up to, and over Christmas than you can afford. Christmas is not just about the presents - it is also about spending time together as a family.

•Don't drink to excess.

•Don't drink and drive - arrange for a sober driver before you go out.

•If you have a child and there is a custody arrangement, come to an agreement before Christmas so that the children can spend time with both of you.

•Remember, problems CAN be solved without arguments.

•Take time out if things get heated or stressful. Go somewhere to let things calm down.

•If you want help to avoid or prevent family violence, contact an appropriate agency.

•Most importantly, if you have fears for your own or your children's safety, contact police immediately.


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