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Murder Case Raises Serious Questions

The appearance in court of a sobbing twelve-year-old boy charged with murder has shocked the country, ACT MP Donna Awatere Huata said today.

"I don't want to pass any judgement on his guilt, nor on this case which will raise many frightening questions for all of us.

"I was appalled though, to find that the twelve-year-old boy - the youngest person charged with murder in New Zealand - has not attended school in two years. New Zealanders will be heartbroken to discover that a child so young can spend so much time outside of the system.

"New Zealanders are entitled to ask how this could have happened. The Ministry of Education has been aware for some time that children are not attending school. The law is clear: the Ministry and the principal of a child's last school have an obligation to ensure children are in the system.

"For two years, this child has been failed, by his family, by his schools, by the Ministry of Education, and by society.

"Serious questions need to be asked, and real solutions need to be found. How many kids are slipping through the cracks? What are we doing to find them, and to help them back into school? How can we expect any child who has been ignored by the system to subsequently fit in to society?

"If we refuse to address these questions, we will be ignoring every child who has managed to drop out. We need a truancy database that works. Trevor Mallard often called for one when in Opposition - it's about time we do the hard work," Donna Awatere Huata said.


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