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We must step in to stop child tragedies



We must step in to stop child tragedies

Child Abuse Prevention agency, Child Matters, is distressed to hear reports of three children being admitted to Waikato hospital yesterday for non-accidental injuries. Among these was a 6 month old girl from Ngaruawahia, hospitalised with critical injuries, who apparently showed signs of being strangled and abused. Also admitted were a 15 month old boy and an 8 month old girl from an apparently unconnected incident.

In the case of the 6 month old girl, neighbours were reported to have heard arguments from the house up to four times a week and the baby girl crying all the time.

Anthea Simcock, CEO of Child Matters, says “I cannot emphasise strongly enough how important it is for family members, friends and neighbours to seek help at an early stage if they can see an adult or family is under stress or not coping with a child.”

Every year numerous children are harmed or killed at the hands of those who are supposed to be caring for them. Probably almost every one of these tragedies would have been preventable if someone had acted on their concerns by providing support or help for the family concerned.

“More often than not there are many signs that a family is having trouble coping with a child, or is under levels of stress that could lead to them ‘losing it’. The key though is not just in providing families with support, but also in doing so as early as possible. Stress is a cumulative thing - it builds up. So the sooner someone can intervene and provide support to help the family deal with the stress, the less likely that it will go beyond normal stress reactions, and potentially end in tragedy.”

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Mrs Simcock believes that many people are not aware of the numerous support agencies that exist within our communities who are perfectly placed to support families in times of stress. There are many frontline support services that have people skilled in helping families through difficult times.

“There is often a stigma attached to seeking help with personal or family matters. And for that matter with ‘sticking our nose into other people business’. We need to somehow get past these stigmas and recognise that without all of us looking out for each other, children will continue to die and get terribly harmed.” Says Mrs Simcock.

Each and every one of us needs to take responsibility for ensuring our families, friends, neighbours and others are supported in order to keep our children safe. Anyone who is concerned can ring Child, Youth and Family on 0508 FAMILY (0508 326 459) to confidentially discuss your concerns.


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