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Dads key to winning the war on child neglect

Media Statement

Monday, 6 December 2010

Dads key to winning the war on child neglect – Dunne

UnitedFuture leader Peter Dunne has labelled the fight against child neglect a “war that must be won” if we are to overturn our current rates of child neglect and welfare dependency.

“The report released today by the Children’s Commissioner is another timely reminder of the challenge we face to become a truly family-friendly society,” said Mr Dunne.

“While we always hark on about New Zealand being a great place to raise kids, this report puts that in perspective. There is a lot we could be doing better.”

“I believe one of the most pressing issues is the increasing prevalence of fatherless children as the result of relationship breakdown. While the Government has no control over the causes of broken relationships, it can do a much better job in keeping both parents fully engaged with their children once the break-up has occurred.”

“First and probably most important is to amend the Care of Children Act to make explicit the presumption of shared care when determining the care arrangements for children when parents separate. This would be predicated on the assumption that both parents are competent, and it is in the child’s best interest.”

“Secondly, there should be a full review of the Family Court system with a view to make it less adversarial and legalistic, stop delays, and provide greater access to mediation services.”

“Finally, the Government must do more to encourage men into teaching. At present males make up less than one percent of early childhood teachers and one in five primary school teachers, so for many children without a father at home there is little or no contact with adult male role-models. This is a particular problem amongst disenfranchised young males.”

“For too long political policy targeting the role of fathers has been pushed into the too-hard-basket for fear of being labelled anti-women. However, unless we begin to address the issue of fatherlessness now we can not expect any improvement in redressing child neglect in New Zealand,” said Mr Dunne.

ENDS

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