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

  • At last – a common sense plan for Christchurch
    The Common Sense Plan for Christchurch released by The People’s Choice today is a welcome relief from the shallow debate about rates rises versus asset sales, Labour’s Christchurch MPs say. "Local residents – who have spent weeks trawling through the… ...
    20 hours ago
  • National must lead by example on climate change
    The National Government must meet its own climate change obligations before it preaches to the rest of the world, Labour's Climate Change spokesperson Megan Woods says. "Calls today by Climate Change Minister Tim Groser for an end to fossil fuel… ...
    2 days ago
  • Biosecurity rethink a long time
    The Government has opened New Zealand’s borders to biosecurity risks and its rethinking of bag screening at airports is an admission of failure, Labour’s Primary Industries spokesperson Damien O’Connor says. Nathan Guy today announced a review of biosecurity systems in… ...
    3 days ago
  • Chinese rail workers must be paid minimum wage
    KiwiRail must immediately stop further Chinese engineers from working here until they can guarantee they are being paid the New Zealand minimum wage, Labour’s MP for Hutt South Trevor Mallard says. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment today released… ...
    3 days ago
  • Better consultation needed on Christchurch asset sales
    The Christchurch City Council (CCC) should be promoting wide and genuine public consultation on its draft ten year budget and plan given the serious implications for the city’s future of its proposed asset sales, outlined in the plan. Instead, it… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage MP
    3 days ago
  • ‘Healthy Families’ a good start but not enough to tackle obesity relate...
    Today the Government is making a the meal out of the launch of its ‘Healthy Families’ package to promote ‘healthier decisions’ and ‘changing mindsets’ over nutrition, physical activity and obesity. Great! The programme is based on a successful model from… ...
    GreensBy Kevin Hague MP
    3 days ago
  • ‘Healthy Families’ a good start but not enough to tackle obesity relate...
    Today the Government is making a the meal out of the launch of its ‘Healthy Families’ package to promote ‘healthier decisions’ and ‘changing mindsets’ over nutrition, physical activity and obesity. Great! The programme is based on a successful model from… ...
    GreensBy Kevin Hague MP
    3 days ago
  • No more sweet talk on obesity
    The Government should be looking at broader measures to combat obesity rather than re-hashing pre-announced initiatives, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says.  “While it is encouraging to see the Government finally waking from its slumber and restoring a focus on… ...
    3 days ago
  • Government two-faced on zero-hour contracts
    The Government should look to ban zero-hour contracts in its own back yard before getting too high and mighty about other employers using them, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says. “Information collated by Labour shows at least three district health… ...
    3 days ago
  • Scrutiny of battlefield deaths should continue
    As New Zealand troops head to Iraq under a shroud of secrecy, the Government is pushing ahead with legislation to remove independent scrutiny of incidents where Kiwi soldiers are killed in hostile action overseas, Labour’s Defence spokesperson Phil Goff says.… ...
    3 days ago
  • Damp-free homes a right for tenants
    Labour is urging tenants to use a little known rule which gives them the right to live in damp-free rental homes. Otago University researchers have today highlighted the Housing Improvement Regulations 1947 as a way tenants can force landlords to… ...
    4 days ago
  • National must take action on speculators
    The Government must take action on property speculators who are damaging the housing market and shutting families and young people out of the home ownership dream, Labour Leader Andrew Little says.  “There are a number of options the Government could… ...
    4 days ago
  • Milk price halves: A $7b economic black hole
    Global milk prices have halved since the peak last year, creating an economic black hole of almost $7 billion that will suck in regions reliant on dairy, crucial industries and the Government’s books, says Labour’s Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson. “The… ...
    4 days ago
  • Kitchen plan set to swallow up health boards’ funds
    The financial impacts of implementing a proposal to outsource hospital food, forced on them by a crown-owned company which is now facing an auditor-general’s inquiry, are being felt by district health boards across the country, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King… ...
    5 days ago
  • Reserve Bank scathing of Government
    The Reserve Bank’s most scathing critique to date of National’s inability to handle the housing crisis shows the Bank is sick of having to pick up the pieces, Labour Leader Andrew Little says.  “John Key continues to deny there is… ...
    5 days ago
  • Time for McDonald’s to upsize work hours
    Labour is calling on McDonald’s to have more respect for their workers and offer them more guaranteed work hours. McDonald’s is proposing to guarantee its workers 80 per cent of their rostered hours, Labour’s spokesperson for Labour Issues Iain Lees-Galloway… ...
    5 days ago
  • Brownlee misses the boat on asbestos
    Gerry Brownlee has once again missed an opportunity to improve the lives of Cantabrians post-earthquakes, Labour’s Canterbury Earthquake Recovery spokesperson Ruth Dyson says. A new report from the Royal Society of New Zealand and the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Adviser,… ...
    5 days ago
  • Government must come clean on troop deployment and protections
    New Zealanders deserve more than to hear about their troops’ deployment overseas from Australian media, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says. “News from Australia that Kiwi troops are on their way to Iraq this week is another example of the culture… ...
    5 days ago
  • Cancer prevention calls gain momentum
    Research showing bowel cancer treatment sucks up more public health dollars than other cancers once again highlights the need for a national screening programme, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says. A study by Otago University, which found colon cancer is… ...
    5 days ago
  • Burger King shows zero-hour contracts not needed
    The abandonment of zero-hour contracts by Burger King is further evidence good employers do not need to use them, Labour’s spokesperson on Labour Issues Iain Lees-Galloway says. "Congratulations to the Unite Union and Burger King for settling an employment agreement… ...
    6 days ago
  • Kiwis deserve more than reheats
    The Government looks set to rely on regurgitated announcements for this year’s Budget if today’s speech is anything to go by, Labour Leader Andrew Little says. “National has been building up to this Budget for seven long years, promising a… ...
    6 days ago
  • Landlords not cashing in on insulation schemes
    The fact so few landlords have taken up the generous taxpayer subsidy for retrofitting shows it is time to legislate minimum standards, says Labour’s Associate Housing spokesperson Poto Williams. “Many landlords aren’t using Government insulation schemes because they don’t want… ...
    6 days ago
  • Zero excuses, end zero hour contracts now
    It’s time Workplace Relations Minister Michael Woodhouse cut the weasel words and banned zero hour contracts, Labour Leader Andrew Little says. “Michael Woodhouse today acknowledged zero hour contracts are unfair. ...
    6 days ago
  • We’ve reached Peak Key with ‘artificial target’
    John Key’s attempt to redefine his cornerstone promise of two election campaigns as an artificial target suggests his other promises are works of fiction, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “For seven years and two election campaigns, John Key has… ...
    6 days ago
  • Top 10 need to know facts on climate change
    All the numbers and stats around climate change can be confusing, so we’ve put together a handy list of the top 10 numbers about climate change that we should all know- and then do something about. You can sign up here to… ...
    GreensBy Frog
    1 week ago
  • Campbell Live a bastion of investigative journalism
    The announcement that current affairs programme Campbell Live is under review and may be axed has sparked outrage from the New Zealand public, for good reason, says Labour’s Broadcasting Spokesperson Clare Curran. “Investigative journalism is a precious resource in today’s… ...
    1 week ago
  • Ground Zero for ‘disastrous’ contracts
    Yesterday the Green Party called on the Government to follow the leadership of Restaurant Brands and ditch zero-hour contracts. Currently it looks like the Government is a large part of the zero-hours problem. It allows these types of “non-jobs” to… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    1 week ago
  • Trust in National will disappear with deficit
    Bill English is set to break his promise to get the books back in the black this year and lose the trust of Kiwis who have had to do it too hard for too long, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant… ...
    1 week ago
  • Dorothy Jelicich passes away
    It is with sincere sadness that the Labour Party conveys its sympathies and condolences to the bereaved family of Dorothy Jelicich who passed away last night at the age of 87 years, says the MP for Mangere, Su’a William Sio.… ...
    1 week ago
  • Government leaves aquaculture industry at sea
    If the Government had acted in its first term, the Sanford mussel processing plant would not have to close, says Labour’s Fisheries spokesperson Rino Tirikatene. “Sanford is considering closure after a decline in the natural supply of spat. This is… ...
    1 week ago
  • Maggie –it’s time to roll your sleeves up
      It’s time for the Minister of Conservation Maggie Barry to listen to the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment  and start untangling the mess around  New Zealand’s stewardship land, says Labour’s Conservation spokesperson Ruth Dyson.  “The Commissioner has called for… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Gutting of prison jobs a gift to private prison provider
    Today’s announcement that sections of three prisons are to be closed is the thin end of the wedge for the privatisation of the country’s prison service, says Labour’s  Corrections spokesperson Kelvin Davis.  It's estimated that 260 prison officers will lose… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Joyce must rule out revising export target
    Steven Joyce must rule out a second revision of the Government’s export target in six months and stop trying to massage statistics when he fails to meet his goals, says Labour’s Economic Development spokesperson David Clark. “National set a target… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Caregiver law passed in haste now a fail
    The Government’s response to supporting family caregivers is mean spirited and designed to fail, says Labour’s Disability Issues Spokesperson Ruth Dyson.  “Figures released by the Ministry of Health show that only a tiny percentage of the eligible families have applied… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Clear message handed to nuclear states
    MPs Phil Goff, Shane Reti and Marama Fox are due to meet with diplomats from the United Kingdom, Russia, the United States, China and France tomorrow to hand deliver a letter calling for their countries to disarm their nuclear weapons.… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Parity is no party for export businesses
    The extent of the damage done by the high dollar to New Zealand businesses is larger than many think as shown by a dramatic decrease in exports to Australia as our dollar rises, Labour Leader Andrew Little says. “When the… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Nats’ limited thinking stifling innovation
    Businesses trying to innovate and create better products are being let down by this Government with an industry expert saying Steven Joyce’s mini-tax credits will have almost no impact, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Andrew Dickeson, director of taxation… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Vanishing Nature: A must-read for all New Zealanders
    The Environmental Defence Society’s new book Vanishing Nature – facing New Zealand’s biodiversity crisis, should be read by every New Zealander concerned about our native plants and wildlife and striking natural landscapes; and particularly by Government Ministers before Budget Day… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage MP
    2 weeks ago
  • The CYF review – an exercise in predetermination?
    Child Youth and Family (CYF) has a troublesome history of underperformance and botched care and protection cases, the most recent being its abject failure, along with the Police, to address the Roastbusters sexual abuse allegations with any semblance of professionalism.… ...
    GreensBy Metiria Turei MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Time to act to protect Hector’s Dolphins
    The death of a Hector’s Dolphin in a set net must lead to action from the Minister of Conservation, Ruth Dyson, Labour’s Conservation Spokesperson said today. “Despite the fact that the Akaroa Harbour has been a Marine Mammal Sanctuary since… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Double-laning Darby and Joan disputed
    The Prime Minister’s by-election promise to double lane the road between Northland’s iconic Darby and Joan kauri trees has been contradicted by officials, Labour’s spokesperson Phil Twyford says. The NZ Transport Agency has told a media outlet that not all… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Parity: Cheaper trips but lower incomes
    The Kiwi dollar’s near-parity with the Australian means some tourists will have cheaper Gold Coast holidays but New Zealand incomes will stay lower for longer, making it harder for many to afford the trip, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson.… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • English’s state house flog off plans exposed
    Labour is calling on Bill English to confirm or deny a claim the Government is exploring a mass sell-off of state housing to tenants. Property magnate Bob Jones writes in a newspaper column published today that the Minister responsible for… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Extension of work scheme urged for disaster relief
    The Government is being urged to extend the Regional Seasonal Employment (RSE) scheme to help families in the most severely-damaged islands of Vanuatu, following Cyclone Pam. “Allowing a further 300 people to take up seasonal employment in New Zealand under… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Nuclear deal with Iran should be just the start
    A deal struck by Iran and major powers to ensure the Iranian facilities producing nuclear material are not used for the purpose of constructing nuclear weapons has been a long time coming, Labour’s Disarmament spokesperson Phil Goff says. “Undoubtedly Iran’s… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Green Aoraki Newsletter March 2015
    Attachmentsmarch2015_web.pdf - 1.4 MB ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Minister needs to do his homework
    Nathan Guy needs to do his homework, Labour’s Primary Industries spokesperson Damien O’Connor says. “Answering questions in Parliament today on the dairy sector, the Primary Industries Minister denied John Key wants to float Fonterra. ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Minister needs to put the kibosh on dirty diesel
    State-Owned Enterprises Minister Todd McClay has to get a grip on the KiwiRail board and put the kibosh on its crazy plan for dirty diesel on the main trunk line, Labour’s Transport spokesperson Phil Twyford says. It has been revealed… ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Louise Nicholas Day: Work still to do
    This is a summary of a speech I gave in honour of Louise Nicholas Day on March 31 The IPCA report showed us basic mistakes are still able to be made within a specialist unit. The Police Commissioner said there… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    3 weeks ago
  • The meanness and pettiness of Nats in power
    Last night, Parliament debated NZ First MP Tracey Martin’s Bill to ensure children in the long term care of family members were able to access a clothing allowance currently only available to children in foster care. Many of these children… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    3 weeks ago

Public service advertisements by The Standard

Current CO2 level in the atmosphere