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Abuse Can be Prevented

Abuse Can be Prevented

The Nia Glassie case has drawn more public attention to the horror of on-going child abuse and neglect in New Zealand. Many people are again asking “how can we stop this”

“Abuse is never acceptable and every New Zealander should take responsibility for the wellbeing of children” said NZCCSS Vice President Shaun Robinson, “However, just dobbing in suspected cases of maltreatment is not going to work. We need to get in early with community based preventive services if we are really going to turn things around.”

The New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services (NZCCSS), an organization that represents a large number of agencies who support vulnerable children, says that child abuse can be prevented. “The solutions are already out there”, said NZCCSS Vice President Shaun Robinson, “many community based agencies are doing very effective work that keeps children safe and supports families to do their job, but they are under-resourced and tied down by red tape. We hope that the new government will be committed to addressing this complex problem”

Community agencies know who the vulnerable families are and are able to get in early to prevent abuse if they have the resources. These agencies need funding that is not tied to “one size fits all” programmes but allows skilled workers to respond to the specifics of each family and child’s needs, to work alongside, and to build on the strengths, of these parents and their children.

“NZCCSS has interviewed families throughout the country who have told us how important and effective this kind of mentor-like social work is. Despite this evidence it has been very hard to get funding for the things that actually work”, says Mr. Robinson, “Resources have just started to improve but they need to flow faster. We need more funding for community based prevention of abuse”.

The second big issue is co-ordination. The Ministries of Education Health and Justice all need to be working with Child Youth and Family and with community groups to turn abuse around. The CEOs of each of these government organizations should have targets for how they will contribute to reducing abuse. These targets should be in CEOs contracts with their new Ministers and they should be actively monitored for their effectiveness.

Finally we need to have an overall plan as a country for stopping this outrage of child abuse. The government must lead this and make it a priority. We need a clear statement of what we want to achieve - which must focus around supporting families so that children are safe and secure. We must have a plan of the types of services that are needed across the community sector and with the Ministries of Education, Health, Justice and Child Youth and Family in order to achieve that goal.

Sadly there will be another Nia Glassie - she or he is out there right now. But if we get behind community organizations and with the coordinated support of central Government and government agencies in a few years we will be able to stand proud as a nation and say we have turned this around. We know what to do it just takes political will.


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