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Child abuse and poverty – still with us

Written By: - Date published: 11:32 am, November 28th, 2016 - 33 comments
Categories: child abuse, child welfare, national, paula bennett, poverty - Tags: , , ,

As topics like Trump and the quakes take the limelight, the slow tragedies unfolding in NZ carry on in the background. In the Herald this morning:

Our kids at risk: Lost security puts children at risk in Flaxmere

NZ has the fourth-highest rate of child deaths from assault in the OECD. Simon Collins visited three communities to look for the root causes of that bad child abuse record.

Treasury data shows that 570 (39 per cent) of Flaxmere’s 1473 preschoolers are “at risk” of poor outcomes later in life based on four risk indicators: mothers with no qualifications, parents on benefits, parents with criminal records, and official findings of abuse or neglect. The NZ average for preschoolers at risk is 15 per cent.

New Zealand children overall face higher risks of dying from assault before age 15 than children in any other OECD country except Estonia, the United States and Mexico. Latest World Health Organisation data shows eight Kiwi children killed by assault in 2011, a death rate seven times Australia’s for every 100,000 children. …

It’s a long and interesting read, lots of real stories. Stay tuned for the two follow up pieces on other communities.

Last week on One News:

‘It’s an embarrassment’ there are so many vulnerable children in NZ, says Sir Graham Henry as Plunket gala aims to raise $500k

Former All Blacks coach Sir Graham Henry says it’s an embarrassment that a great country like New Zealand has 300,000 young people who are vulnerable.

The 2015 Child Poverty Monitor found that around 300,000 under-18-year-olds are living in poverty and Sir Graham told Seven Sharp he’s a proud New Zealander but that statistic is an embarrassment.

“I think the Government’s refocusing in this area, as you probably know. They need to. It’s our embarrassment. This country is a great country,” he said. …

Rather difficult for them to “refocus” on this area without even an official measure of poverty I would have thought.

33 comments on “Child abuse and poverty – still with us”

  1. Rosemary McDonald 1


    Paula Bennett’s an embarrassment.

  2. Sorrwerdna 2

    rather than abuse and criticism from the left how about some suggestions and answers what the great left would do if they ever get into power

    • Rosemary McDonald 2.2

      Oh, I don’t know….perhaps increase the tax on alcohol and impose some kind of harm mitigation levy on the massive booze industry? This would piss off the booze barons…but what the heck.

      Fund extensive anti getting pissed messaging…perhaps even stating that using any mind altering recreational chemical when responsible for children is socially unacceptable….similar to the anti smoking message.

      Fund addiction services….REAL addiction services. Funding can be sourced from the Harm Mitigation Levy that will be imposed on the booze barons…

      Give real support to the initiatives from communities such as those in the article by Simon Collins. Grassroots, interventional programs.

      Hopefully, a left leaning government would refuse to have it’s duty to the less well heeled compromised by it’s commitment to it’s supporters.

      • Psycho Milt 2.2.1

        The government already imposes taxes on the liquor industry and funds extensive wowser messaging. The kind of people who file producing children under “shit happens” and unsurprisingly go on to neglect and abuse them are impervious to such messaging.

        • Rosemary McDonald

          “The government already imposes taxes on the liquor industry and funds extensive wowser messaging.”

          More taxes, levy to mitigate harm, funding for messaging that actually does encourage the reduction of substance abuse…not those stupid, facile, infantile…

    • One Anonymous Bloke 2.3

      Run the economy better, as usual.

    • ropata 2.4

      I dunno, how about actually address the problems outlined in this post rather than laugh them off like Pullya Benefit

    • Cinny 2.5

      A cross party group to investigate and find solutions, but the government said no, they were doing their own investigation. That really pissed me off, kids come first, our stat’s and abuse rates are shocking, but still the national party said no to a cross party group on child poverty.

      What’s changed? Nadda.

      Education is so important and support. Often when one has a baby they are shipped out of the hospital asap, with their newborn. Educate parents on how to cope with a baby, that would be a great start. How about Plunket? How much support do groups like plunket get from the government?

      How about taking the booze out of the supermarket? Can’t tell me that some of the abuse is not alcohol related. Pick up some wine with the nappies and formula…

      How about some ads on tv to educate parents, dang how about a parenting tv programme? Do we even have one of those?

      Are teachers in schools and preschools taught to identify signs of abuse? So they can do something if they see it?

      Is mental health funded properly? Is post natal depression even talked about?

      Are the social pressures of life causing so much stress that parents can’t cope?

      A cross party group would be a good start.

    • Chris 2.6

      Labour promises to reverse its war-on-the-poor policies of 1999 to 2008, says it got it wrong and promises not to do it again, instead of merely repeating the line “we’re a different party now”, like it said in 1999. There’s a start.

  3. save nz 3

    Put simply, a UBI is a pump-priming minimum income that is unconditionally granted to all on an individual basis, without any means test or work requirement. It eliminates the poverty traps that the poor fall into when welfare payments have many conditions and are administered by large and inflexible bureaucracies….

    “We tend to think that simply giving people money makes them lazy. Yet a wealth of scientific research proves the contrary: free money helps. It is time for a radical reform of the welfare state.”


    • Mr Nobody 3.1

      Save NZ as you seem to have a better understand on UB, can you explain this to me (or point me towards a resource that can)…

      As a country we’re already supporting a those who need it via the welfare system (No issue). From my understanding a UB would eliminate the welfare system and those people would still be getting supported (though I believe at a greater amount than today?), but what about the person $50k/annum or $100K/annum?

      Do their tax rates increase?

      What happens when we pay UBI and people still “need” more because they can’t survive?

      thanks in advance.

    • AB 3.2

      @save nz
      “We tend to think that simply giving people money makes them lazy”.
      Actually we only tend to think that giving poor people money makes them lazy. Secretly, and without any justification, we believe they are really lazy anyway and that’s why they are poor.

      But we have no problem at all with well-off people getting money for nothing – unearned capital gains from rental property speculation anyone? A nice portfolio of shares that goes up in value? All good – a fair and just monetary reward for umm, err, for already having money. And getting it doesn’t make them lazy – no it drives them to ever greater and more heroic investments. Truly they are our salvation.

      Next time some authoritarian fool says they don’t like a UBI because people would get money without working for it – ask if they would prohibit all income from capital.

      • Jono 3.2.1

        The rich are a different breed but you will never hear from the media they are lazy. But actually they are much lazier than the average poor person. They usually make there money throught the least labour intensive method posible ie the share market or a takeover. I know i might get a bit of flack for saying this…

        • save nz

          Jono, the rich and actually even the middle class don’t even have to pay taxes as they were previously because of all the legal tax avoidance. Nowadays the big money is made on paper and there seems to little taxes on it, and talk of them seems to be shut down.

          That is why I would advocate a robin hood tax on banks for each transaction and maybe some sort of transaction tax to pay for the UBI.

          That would tax those that are whizzing their money around the world and avoiding local taxation. As soon as tax avoiders try to take it away, they would have to pay some tax.

          In addition some sort of electronic tax, maybe .01% on every transaction in the country. That way they can tax consumption, something which is not being taxed properly.

          Therefore no legal hassles or accountancy battles either. Sell a house, then .01% automatically goes to the government, sell a business .01% automatically goes to the government, pay some wages or get some money out .01% automatically goes to the government.

          I can see the howls from the super rich. But the opposition need to find some way to tax them. Remember we have apparently the forth richest country in the world per capita!! We can afford to eliminate poverty and increase equality.

          At the same time other taxes could come down like PAYE or Corporation taxes.

          At present the super rich don’t earn much taxable income so the rich can get more welfare than those that actually need it!

          Those that need welfare can’t access it because of the amount of bureaucracy it requires and those giving it seem to be trying to stop people getting what they are entitled to.

          In terms of income, the UBI should be at the same levels as super is set today. Aprox $300 p/w per person net. Maybe $150 per child with a upper limit of 2 children?


          Not only that it would encourage parents to stay together as they are not being penalised under the current system that seems to try to break up families by paying more for single parents than those in a relationship.

      • save nz 3.2.2

        (AB did you read the article, it showed that the ‘poor’ when given the UBI got off drugs, did courses and turned their lives around!!)

        As well as being good for society UBI can also save money from all the other support services that don’t seem to be working. It costs $90,000 to put someone in jail for a year in NZ, maybe $500,000 to prosecute them -etc etc All these costs could be eliminated and more jobs created in the recreational areas

        Think about it, who in their right mind would think Pokemon would exist 10 years ago?? Nobody. It seems crazy to me, but I’m not the target market but it’s some world wide phenomena and I guess getting people out socialising and doing something is better than them drinking, committing suicide or committing crimes. (Something that seems to be increasing in NZ).

        We don’t know what the jobs of the future are yet or what is going to motivate people. But if unemployed people are too busy filling in forms at WINZ, committing crimes to survive because WINZ arbitrarily cut off their benefit or doing busywork to punish them, then they are not happy productive members of society.

        It’s not just young, unemployed people that will benefit. This is a way for a country like NZ to stop relying on other people and trade for everything and to increase our productivity and innovation. Use our people power. Not things, services or ideas.

        NZ desperately needs to find some way to improve productivity – because our low wage, banana republic economy is not working.

        What is going to happen when we have sold our last farm, our last section and our last asset (sooner than you think with Natz at the cashier in the fire sale!!)?

        • AB

          save nz
          Agree – I’m a UBI proponent.
          Apologies if my sarcasm in the post above not clearly flagged as such.

          • save nz

            Thanks AB (sorry sometimes hard to tell sarc from trolls) –

            The reality is that neoliberalism is not working.

            Neoliberalism is increasing the cost of living by encouraging growth by increased profits on food, housing, power and the other essentials.

            At the same time Neoliberalism is stopping people’s wages from rising (because that takes away company profits) so people have less income and more expenses.

            Clearly something has got to give with that and that is why all around the world people are suddenly voting to disrupt neoliberalism.

            Neoliberalism is not sustainable unless people get more money to live off!

            I’m not keen for some sort of bloody revolution, civil war OR One word Army surveillance approach, so how about some old fashioned fairness and let everyone have a living wage with zero conditions with a UBI.

            Rather than have supper, accommodation supplement, unemployment benefit, working for families, sickness benefit, DPB, ACC etc – just have a UBI

            Neoliberalism is leading to massive loss of taxes through global tax avoidance and at the same time there is little effort on climate change .

            Government need to tax consumption and they can do that with Robin hood and transaction taxes.

            Let’s start taxing consumption not encouraging it for a sustainable approach.

  4. ropata 4

    I wish this post was permanently pinned to the top of TS. A society should be judged by how it treats its youngest and most vulnerable. On that score, we suck. Good on Alexander Gillespie for reporting this.

    NZ’s end of year report – Could try harder
    While we score high in the indices for peace and transparency, our poverty and inequality gaps have grown.

    The anchor that stops us progressing, for which we deserve a fail mark of D is that although we are close to the OECD average for poverty (as in, 50% of the median income), our poverty rates have increased since the mid 1990s when it was closer to 8% to about 11% today.

    Also, our income inequality and the gap between the rich and the poor, has grown since the mid 1980s, with a trajectory that put us in the top end of the OECD for the growing gap (but the USA and UK are still above us, but Aus is not).

    Where we are lagging is with our youth. The Global Youth Development Index of the Commonwealth Secretariat, has us at 11th out of 49 countries in this group (Aus 3rd and UK 4th).

    According to the OECD, our child poverty figure, at 14%, is slightly above the OECD average but we are in the lowest third of the OECD members, meriting a clear failure of an E grade with regards to children, in terms of adolescent suicide rate, teenage birth rate, educational deprivation and sense of belonging at school. In terms of child deaths from assault we are the fourth worst country in the OECD.

    • save nz 4.1

      It’s pretty clear to me as a parent, that the National government hates and ignores children.

      Not being economic units yet, or voters, they just don’t count.

      How the hell, they can get away with turfing out parents with newborns after 4 hours of giving birth, I don’t know. (wonder why we have enormous rates of child abuse, who knows, sarc), having plunket as a charity rather then a government run service, making single parents go out looking for work when their child is 1 or whatever the new rules are, only 17% breastfeeding at 6 months, Ministry for vulnerable children being chosen as a name against official advice, etc etc

      You can’t ignore kids for 18 years and then suddenly look at them and say, you’re hopeless, lets import in someone better than you, (oh that’s right, that’s the neoliberal solution to not looking after your own kids as a society is importing in ready to go adults…)

      Remember there is not such thing as society…

      • Incognito 4.1.1

        I hear what you’re saying but it is daft to say that National “hates children” because they are not economic units yet.

        The raising & upbringing of children, even conceiving, is a billion-dollar market, literally. Children are a sure way of tapping into people’s pockets through pulling heart strings if a little ‘encouragement’ is desired. People mortgage themselves silly to live in zone so that little Jasper or little Jennifer can attend the right school; parents choose up, socially, for their children first and foremost.

        As to vulnerable children, child poverty, etc., it is important to realise that National is waging a class war and is extremely well-camouflaged.

    • lprent 4.2

      It’d be nice if that was what people wanted to debate. However it seldom is unless it is a slow news day.

      Generally editors will prefer to pin ‘hot’ topics to the top because it encourages people to read into the comments and join the debate. They also then carry on to spill over into the other posts. With google analytics we can track that behaviour happening in almost real time. Some of those hot topics relate to comments, sometimes to pageviews, sometimes to unique views, and sometimes to numbers of new readers.

      That fits the general thrust of the site. It concentrates less on the authors posting than it focuses on the commenters getting involved in writing cogent arguments. Since we also don’t want to become a stodgy echo chamber, we also allow a reasonable amount of (often boring for non-participants) cut and thrust provided it doesn’t start to overwhelm the post topics – after all we provide Open Mike and Daily Review for the personal jousting for a reason.

      However some times an editor will decide to pin a topic up for a while because they consider that it is important topic. Mostly that will happen on weekends or weekday mornings and evenings. But you have to remember that we’re not here for pontificating broadcasts, we’re here for debate.

      We do however provide a mechanism if you want to promote something. The social media buttons at the base of posts is a very powerful mechanism to push attention to a post. As importantly it allows you to editorialize ‘above’ the post rather than below the posts as a comment.

      • ropata 4.2.1

        Understood, wasn’t really complaining about site policies, more wishful thinking really. Poverty is hardly ever a leading news item but it impacts more people and causes just as much trauma as any natural disaster.

        • lprent

          Figured that. Personally I prefer thoughtful and informative posts on things I know too little about. That is despite my own behaviour of only being to able to write when I want to rant with facts.

          But hey.. we mix and match..

  5. save nz 5

    incognito – the Natz are after easy short term returns, kids don’t cut it. It’s the parents that spend the money not the kids.

    So if anything, it is about manipulating what the parents want for their kids than any real statistics or policies on improving kids lives.

    • save nz 5.1

      For example National standards. Have been showed everywhere not to work.

      But parents want their kids to ‘succeed’ and be better than their peers so Natz put forward National standards which make the parents feel good and something is being done, they get some bogus report rating on their kid.

      Sadly it is harming the kids and the teachers and our country eventually when these robot neoliberal babes grow up and think that is the only system out there.

    • Incognito 5.2

      I hear you but you’re not hearing me, it seems.

      Let me try this then: parents spend money on children, this is true, but a lot of the “manipulation” actually occurs through the children (not just advertising, but also peer pressure, social networks, etc.). Many children, especially privileged ones, have their own bank accounts and do have spending power. We live in a neo-liberal Nirvana (AKA social nightmare) – children are brought up to make their own choices in life …

      PS if you do engage with others here on TS it helps a lot (!) if you use the reply button appropriately 😉

      • save nz 5.2.1

        I’m more talking about children 0 – 12 rather than teenagers. Even then, I’m not sure how many kids have their own bank accounts with enough money to be influencing the politicians. The post is about kids in poverty.

        I think the parents are being manipulated.

        We actually agree on the main points – I agree National is waging a class war,but class is different now than it used to be.

        Class used to be about breeding, now wealth is more important to the political system.

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