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Focus the Resources on Dysfunctional Families


25 August 2011

Focus the Resources on Dysfunctional Families

Family First NZ is welcoming calls by the Rotorua Coroner to monitor families for child abuse to avoid repeat cases like the Nia Glassie case, but says that the focus should be on dysfunctional families where there are obvious risk factors and a history of dysfunction.

"It is an absolute waste of resources and time to monitor families where there are no concerns about the physical or emotional needs of families and their children," says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. "90% of NZ families don't need monitoring - they simply need encouragement and support to continue doing the great job they're already doing. To threaten to refer the overwhelming majority of well-functioning parents and families - who will quite rightly resist this intrusion - to social welfare agencies to be closely monitored, as was also previously floated by a past Children's Commissioner, is flawed and pointless."

"How many times in abuse cases have we heard 'the family was known to CYF'? It is families where there is family breakdown and instability, drug and alcohol abuse, low maternal age, mental illness, previous family violence - all the risk factors highlighted in reports over the past decade on child abuse - who we should be closely monitoring."

"What Coroner Bain is calling for is not rocket science - to more closely monitor dysfunctional families. We shouldn't have to wait for an inquest into Nia Glassie to figure that one out," says Mr McCoskrie.

"But for so-called 'experts' to call for monitoring across the board of all kiwi families is simply misguided and a waste of valuable time and resources."

"We need to go back to the old Plunket family model of supporting and working with new parents through the challenging first couple of years, responding to their needs, but the monitoring and spot checks need to be targeted where there are 'red flags' of drug and alcohol abuse, family violence present or past, instability and breakdown in adult relationships in the home, and signs of neglect and abuse which have been picked up by agencies, schools and doctors," says Mr McCoskrie.

"It's also time that we ditched the Privacy Act provisions which prevent the sharing of information between agencies which quickly identifies dysfunctional families and children at risk."

"It's time we more closely monitored dysfunctional families - not create a 'police' state around every good parent raising great kids."

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