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Commissioner looking for action on child abuse

27 June 2006

Children’s Commissioner looking for action on child abuse

Children’s Commissioner, Dr Cindy Kiro, has called for action to be taken to help prevent child abuse and neglect.

“The tragic deaths of Chris and Cru Kahui have highlighted New Zealand’s shocking child abuse record.”

“I support the set-up of a cross political party working party on family violence that has been proposed by Maori Affairs Minister Parekura Horomia. The Family Violence Taskforce, which has had input from the judiciary, the NGO sector, Commissioners and others, is due to report back with recommendations in July. Parliament has the opportunity to show leadership and work together to make children safer,” she said.

“Making babies and children safer will require a platform of changes including legislation, policy and practice. We need to do more and to be bold and innovative to address these underlying problems of violence.”

“We need legislative change. Section 59 of the Crimes Act (1961) that allows a defense of ‘reasonable force’ to disciplining children must be repealed. Repeal is a fundamental and necessary step to ensure that children in New Zealand grow up in safe and secure environments. Although most incidents of physical punishment do not lead to child abuse, research has shown that most incidents of child abuse arise from physical punishment.”

“I am calling for the creation of a plan for every child so that no one falls through the gaps. These plans would mean that educational, health and safety information would be shared and assessed in a consistent way. A key benefit of the integrated framework is that all professionals will be required in their assessments to take account of the child’s life in the context of the families and communities in which they live. A consistent finding of investigations of child homicides by my Office is the need for interagency cooperation and communication to ensure the safety of children and young people engaged with multiple agencies.”

“We also need more support for our front-line services – particularly agencies from the non-government sector to support parents and families to care for their babies and children. These organizations must have adequate human and financial resources so that they can provide quality frontline services and programmes.”

“It’s time to stop the blaming and ask ourselves how these children escaped the safety net that was available to their parents. In future we need to put in place a plan for each child from the day that they are born so that children don’t fall through the gaps again.”

ENDS

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