web analytics
The Standard

Poverty Watch 43

Written By: - Date published: 7:32 am, August 10th, 2013 - 4 comments
Categories: national, poverty - Tags:

Last week the Child poverty action group released, in two parts, a report into the links between poverty and child abuse (Part 1 pdf, Part 2 pdf). The media were (quite rightly) busy chasing the various spying scandals, so the reports didn’t get the attention that they deserved.  So today let’s take a look at the first one: Child abuse: what role does poverty play? (by Donna Wynd).

The report covers the related topics of child maltreatment, neglect and abuse. It makes for depressing reading. The full list of chapter headings, and the most relevant subsection, are as follows:

Summary
1. Introduction
2. What is meant by child abuse?
3. Impact of child maltreatment and neglect
4. Factors which are associated with child abuse
    4.4.1 The role of poverty
5. Potentially protective factors for children
6. Child abuse statistics in New Zealand
7. Maori and Pacific peoples
8. New Zealand: 25 Years of research and reports
9. Current policy responses
10. Conclusion

The purpose of this post is to focus on the role of poverty, so I’ll quote some of the Summary, Section 4.4.1, and some of the Conclusion:

Summary

There is now a substantial body of research, including New Zealand research, showing the association between poverty and deprivation, and child maltreatment and neglect. Much of this work emphasises the complexity and multiplicity of risk factors in child abuse, and the equally complex mix of protective factors that can change outcomes for children. However current policy responses to the tragedy of New Zealand’s child abuse are focused not on dealing with the causes of abuse but on reporting and monitoring, and risk assessment.

A consistent theme in the formal research is the role of poverty in child maltreatment and neglect. The association between child abuse and poverty is reflected in New Zealand data. Rates of hospital admissions for assault, neglect and maltreatment were significantly higher for the most deprived two deciles of New Zealand’s population. Rates of poverty for Māori and Pacific people are consistently double that of European/Pakeha people, regardless of which measure is used (Perry, 2012, p. 118), and Māori and Pacific children were 3.24 and 2.26 times respectively more likely to be admitted to hospital for intentional injuries than European children between 2000-2011 (Craig & et al, 2012, pp. 56-60). A 2000 literature review published by the then Ministry of Social Policy on the physical abuse and neglect of children by family members noted the role of poverty and the role of individuals’ and families’ ability to cope with economic and other stress (Angus & Pilott, 2000).

Improving incomes is unlikely on its own to stop the maltreatment and neglect of children in New Zealand but the evidence strongly suggests it needs to be an integral part of any policy package aimed at reducing child abuse. …

However, much of this research has been ignored. The Green and White Paper, and other recent government-sponsored publications, offer scant economic or historic context for the current state of New Zealand’s vulnerable children. They say little about the impact of poverty, labour market changes, health inequalities or the colonial context of Māori. Instead of attempting to prevent child abuse by addressing the causes of abuse, the government has chosen to focus on responses to child abuse including identifying ‘vulnerable’ children through a ‘risk assessment’ algorithm. …

More importantly, monitoring, responding to and assessing the risk of child abuse fails to address the deep and persistent poverty of many New Zealand children and their families. The threadbare analysis provided by the Green Paper and the follow-up White paper combined with government policies to cut back social security and family assistance will not improve New Zealand’s statistics of child maltreatment and neglect. Punitive social assistance reforms are counter to all the research reviewed here which finds poverty and family and neighbourhood deprivation to be key risk factors in child maltreatment.

Reducing child maltreatment and neglect to a meaningful extent will require child-focused policies that directly address deprivation and other causal factors. One way forward would be to think about the care and protection of all children, with an emphasis on reducing inequalities and providing adequate resourcing for services to assist children and families with the greatest need and creating environments which are safe for all children. This would also be consistent with New Zealand’s obligations under UNCROC and the Treaty of Waitangi.

4.4.1 The role of poverty

Researchers have been aware of the link between poverty and child abuse for many years (Angus & Pilott, 2000; Besharov & Laumann, 1997; Gilbert et al., 2009; Halpern, 1990; National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, 2008), although the causal mechanisms remain uncertain. The link between poverty and neglect appears to be stronger than that between poverty and other forms of abuse (Angus & Pilott, 2000, p. 23; National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, 2008, p. 3; Nikulina, Spatz Widom, & Czaja, 2010; Paxson & Waldfogel, 1999). In developed countries, it is largely relative rather than absolute poverty that is the issue, although absolute poverty is increasing as developed economies flounder in the wake of the global financial crisis.

While the association between poverty and child maltreatment and neglect is well established, less clear is the strength of that relationship. Recorded higher rates of child maltreatment in low-income households may be partly accounted for by the fact that such households are more likely to already be under the purview of child welfare agencies, for instance for housing or social welfare assistance (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, 2008, pp. 4-5), and thus be more likely to be noticed and reported. In addition, there can be bias in the reporting of children’s injuries. This can take the form of sample bias (eg surveys among disadvantaged social groups), bias in the recording of data (under-recording or inaccuracy), changes in reporting and recording policies, or differing community attitudes to the treatment of children (Lievore & Mayhew, 2007).

Nevertheless, the fact remains that the common thread in the research literature is that higher than average rates of child maltreatment and neglect are associated with poverty (Angus & Pilott, 2000; Council of Australian Governments, 2009; Fergusson & Lynskey, 1997; Gilbert et al., 2009, p. 72; Lievore & Mayhew, 2007; Ministry of Social Development, 2006a, p. 3; Paxson & Waldfogel, 1999; Pelton, 1994; World Health Organization, 2006). Poverty impacts on families and neighbourhoods, and is the product not only of national economic and social policies, but how those policies are implemented and administered. Thus, while it can be argued individuals choose to maltreat or neglect their children, the environmental factors that contribute to family stress cannot be ignored. Focusing on individual behaviour will continue to put children at risk of abuse.

10. Conclusion

The clear and consistent link between poverty and child maltreatment and neglect needs to be acknowledged. New Zealand research suggests that low income, low educational attainment, and poor mental and physical health can easily set up a cycle of poverty, stress and child maltreatment (Fergusson et al., 2008; Fergusson et al., 2011; Lievore & Mayhew, 2007). Improving incomes is unlikely on its own to stop the maltreatment and neglect of children in New Zealand but the evidence strongly suggests it needs to be an integral part of any policy package aimed at reducing child abuse. Other factors that would improve outcomes for children and whānau are improved access to affordable, stable housing, and better access to primary healthcare and early childhood care and education. These all form part of the protective environment that could be established and maintained for children in New Zealand. …

The threadbare analysis provided by the Green Paper, the follow-up White paper and the Welfare Working Group, combined with government policies to cut back social security and family assistance will not improve New Zealand’s child maltreatment and neglect statistics. Reducing child maltreatment and neglect to a meaningful extent will require child-focused policies that directly address deprivation and other causal factors.

We have all the studies and evidence that we need. Time to stop wringing our hands over the national shame of our child abuse and poverty rates. Time to stop ignoring and marginalising the poor. Time to address the real problems. Can Labour lead the way?


Here’s the standard footnote. Poverty (and inequality) were falling (albeit too slowly) under the last Labour government.   Now they are on the rise again, in fact a Waikato University professor says that poverty is our biggest growth industry.

Before the last election Labour called for a cross party working group on poverty. Key turned the offer down.  Report after report after report has condemned the rate of poverty in this country, and called on the government to act. Meanwhile 40,000 kids are fed by charities and up to 80,000 are going to school hungry. National has responded with complete denial of the issues, saying that the government is already doing enough to help families feed their kids. Organisations working with the poor say that Key is in poverty ‘la la land’.

The Nats refuse to even measure the problem (though they certainly believe in measurement and goals when it suits them to bash beneficiaries). In a 2012 summary of the government’s targets and goals John Armstrong wrote: “Glaringly absent is a target for reducing child poverty”…

The costs of child poverty are in the range of $6-8 Billion per year, but the Nats refuse to spend the $2 Billion that would be needed to really make a difference. Even in purely economic terms National’s attitude makes no sense.

4 comments on “Poverty Watch 43”

  1. The clear and consistent link between poverty and child maltreatment and neglect needs to be acknowledged.

    Something else that needs to be acknowledged is this: the government that openly declares a link between poverty and child neglect/abuse will be immediately and intensely vilified by CPAG and a horde of social workers, academics, journalists and left-wing bloggers decrying the heartlessness of a government that blames child abuse on the poor, and pointing out the irrelevant fact that child abusers aren’t all poor.

  2. AsleepWhileWalking 2

    Can Labour lead the way? The Greens can.

  3. ak 3

    Milt: … the government that openly declares a link between poverty and child neglect/abuse will be immediately and intensely vilified by CPAG….

    Que? Did you actually read r0b’s post? Starting at the first sentence?

    • I did. Now I’m inviting readers to consider the likely response from CPAG etc to a government that actually did link poverty with child abuse.

Links to post

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

1 2 3 8

  • Latest Air NZ plan carries on regional snub
    Christchurch Labour Members of Parliament have secured a meeting with Air New Zealand boss Christopher Luxon following the airline’s decision to cut its Christchurch to Tokyo summer flights.  They are also calling on the Minister of Transport Simon Bridges to… ...
    3 hours ago
  • Carmel Sepuloni back in Social Development role
    Andrew Little has reinstated Carmel Sepuloni as Labour’s Social Development spokesperson following the sentencing of her mother in the New Plymouth District Court today. “It has been a tough time for Carmel, but we both agreed it was appropriate she… ...
    4 hours ago
  • Government taking Kiwis for April Fools
    Many Kiwis will be wondering if the joke is on them when a raft of Government changes come into effect tomorrow, Labour Leader Andrew Little says. “First is ACC and National’s unwillingness to end its rort of Kiwi businesses which… ...
    6 hours ago
  • Time to show RMA housing affordability plans
    Labour is challenging the Government to reveal its plans to make housing more affordable through amending the Resource Management Act, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “Labour remains willing to consider the proposals on housing affordability on their merits and… ...
    7 hours ago
  • John Key now admits no broad support for RMA changes
    John Key has now been forced to admit that he never had the broad political support to gut the Resource Management Act, says Labour’s Environment spokesperson Megan Woods. “Cornerstone legislation such as the RMA should never be changed without genuine… ...
    1 day ago
  • National’s changes leave student bodies in chaos
    The chaos created by National’s scrapping of compulsory student association membership may force the 86-year old Union of Students Association to fold, Labour’s Tertiary Education spokesperson David Cunliffe says. “National’s 2011 Voluntary Student Membership Act has left student associations with… ...
    1 day ago
  • Tragedy must be impetus for better training
    The Police Minister needs to explain why unsworn and inadequately trained custody officers were put in a situation of caring for a medically unwell prisoner on a busy Saturday night, Labour’s Police spokesperson Kelvin Davis says. Commenting on an IPCA… ...
    4 days ago
  • Government must be more transparent on investor state clauses
    The Government must be more transparent around the draft investor state dispute settlements in the TPPA, says David Parker, Labour’s Export Growth and Trade spokesperson. “Labour is pro trade, and is proud of the FTA we negotiated with China, which… ...
    4 days ago
  • Protect university staff and student voices
    The Green Party believes ensuring student and staff representation on university councils is important. National recently passed a law reducing the size of university governance councils while increasing the proportion of the members nominated by, guess who… Steven Joyce. The… ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes MP
    5 days ago
  • C’mon Nick what’s the truth on the RMA
     “Nick Smith has got to fess up and tell us what is happening to his much vaunted RMA reform, Labour’s Environment spokesperson Megan Woods says.  “With just a day and a half to go before the polls open in Northland,… ...
    5 days ago
  • SSC salaries sink National’s spending spin
    Massive pay rises at the State Services Commission prove National’s claims of clamping down on spending in the public sector are simply fantasy, Labour’s State Services spokesman Kris Faafoi says. “Salaries in this one department are almost $70,000 more than… ...
    5 days ago
  • We can fix Christchurch and keep our assets
    The Christchurch City Council is seeking public feedback on its proposed 10 year plan for Council revenue and spending. This is probably one of the most significant 10 year plans ever to be written by a local council because of… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage MP
    5 days ago
  • Epidemic of serious assaults in our prisons
    Labour wants stab proof vests and pepper spray for all corrections officers to keep them safe from the epidemic of serious prison assaults that are occurring around the country’s jails, says Labour’s Corrections Spokesperson Kelvin Davis.  “There have been five… ...
    5 days ago
  • Listen to the locals Hekia!
    Minister Hekia Parata needs to understand what consultation is, Port Hills MP Ruth Dyson says. “It means you have to listen to what people say in their submissions and then be able to demonstrate you have considered their views when… ...
    6 days ago
  • Thanking our caregivers
    Let’s celebrate and thank our caregivers. This week is caregivers’ week. It’s a chance to acknowledge the thousands of women, and occasional other person, who are caring for the elderly and disabled in our country. They hold people’s lives in… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    6 days ago
  • Mana Post shop the best outcome for community
    Labour MP for Mana Kris Faafoi has welcomed the move to place the services from the Mana Post shop to a local small business. “This is the best outcome for the community we could ask for. All the vital services… ...
    6 days ago
  • Labour looks to put the tea back into entitlements
    Labour is moving to restore the rights of Kiwis to take tea and rest breaks, Leader Andrew Little says. “Within months of the Government’s Employment Relations Amendment Bill becoming law we are already seeing some of our largest companies, including… ...
    6 days ago
  • Desperate money grab to keep Ruataniwha afloat
    The Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company’s decision to borrow $4 million to keep the Ruataniwha project afloat is a case of throwing ratepayer’s good money after bad, says Labour’s Water spokesperson Meka Whaitiri and Napier MP Stuart Nash.   “This bridging… ...
    1 week ago
  • Roundup: UN finds it “probably” causes cancer
    At last the UN has spoken out against the widely-used weedkiller Roundup. The UN’s International Agency for Research on Cancer has identified glyphosate, the principle ingredient in Roundup, as a probable carcinogen. They also include as probable carcinogens the insecticides… ...
    GreensBy Steffan Browning MP
    1 week ago
  • World water day: eight rivers in one day
    Our photo journey started by the Waioweka (also known as Waioeka) River which flows from Te Urewera to Opotiki, and is surrounded by beautiful forest. The water looked great! Kopeopeo Canal It contrasted greatly with the Kopeopeo Canal near Whakatane,… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    1 week ago
  • We all benefit when education meets everyone’s needs
    As Dyslexia week comes to a close,  Dyslexia NZ have reminded us that around 10% of our citizens are dyslexic and are entitled to better support. One of their strongest arguments is that failure to provide identification and support for… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    1 week ago
  • Big change starts small
    Today marks Race Relations Day in New Zealand. Race Relations Day coincides with the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.  The United Nations General Assembly chose this day as it marks the day in 1960 when 69 peaceful… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    1 week ago
  • Israel, Palestine and the question of statehood
    The knife-edge election in Israel complicates the Middle East situation, even more than usual. The Prime Minister-elect, Binyamin Netanyahu, is moving to form a government. Netanyahu has indicated that, during his term, a Palestinian state would not be established. That… ...
    GreensBy Kennedy Graham MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Christchurch transport goes backwards
    The Green Party has a vision of a liveable, accessible Christchurch with a sense of identity and strong connected communities. Instead, 2013 census figures released by Statistics New Zealand reveal a fractured community, and tell a story of frustrated Christchurch commuters… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Super Fund should divest $140 million in high risk coal
    The Green Party is calling on the New Zealand Super Fund to divest their $140 million investment in coal companies that are vulnerable to becoming financially stranded according to a damning new report from Oxford University. The Smith School of… ...
    GreensBy Russel Norman MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Learn to count with Mark Osborne: 0 + 1 = ?
    The adage about the first casualty of war being truth is one that might often be applied to the political battle for hearts and minds, and of course votes. A rather unfortunate example of this has been arriving in the… ...
    GreensBy David Clendon MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Is it still a safety net when the holes are this big?
    Over the last few weeks I’ve been wondering how safe our income support system is for people, especially those with cognitive or learning disabilities. I’ve been trying to support a young man who was severely injured in a workplace accident… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Pasifika – protecting the Pacific needed now more than ever.
    Over the weekend thousands of Aucklanders flocked to celebrate our city’s diverse Pacific communities and cultures at the annual Pasifika festival and the Greens were there to join them. The Pasifika festival has been held every year for 23… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Sounds Stakeholders Seek a Sustainable Future
    It was heartening to see a large number of people who care about the Marlborough Sounds come together at the Marlborough Marine Futures’ forum in Picton on March 8. Fellow Green MP Steffan Browning, who lives in Marlborough, and I… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage MP
    3 weeks ago
  • Solid Energy, who will clean up the mess?
    What can you say? This state-owned coal miner is facing some very serious problems. They haven’t run a profit in years, have required two Government bailouts, laid-off more than 700 staff and look like they need a third injection of… ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes MP
    3 weeks ago

Removed at the request of The Daily Blog.
Public service advertisements by The Standard

Current CO2 level in the atmosphere