For the first time in ten years, reported cases of child abuse have declined. Minister Tolley and I are in agreement, that the number is still appallingly high. I sincerely hope that the reduction over the last year is due to government policies because then we can expect the downward trend to continue over the next few years.
We ALL need to be accessible to children to help ensure their safety. We need more programmes in schools which teach and explore respect in all relationships so that children recognise they have recourse if they are “disrespected” and are actually in an abuse situation. I have not abused a child but as an adult I accept that responsibility for the safety of children in my community is down to me too.
Many sexual abusers of children are adept at presenting themselves as nice people to the outside world (and, I suggest, some cultivate a good community image as part of their cover). They threaten harm to the child or others they love if they “tell”. That being the case some kinds of abuse have to be attacked from a different angle than identifying perpetrators per se. By teaching respect for others and ourselves we can empower children without turning them against those who they love and genuinely love them and are not abusing them. It is not about SEX education but respect and relationship education. Emotional and physical abuse are different again, although some children experience all three. I know there have been times when I have heard an adult speaking an appalling manner to a child and have bitten my tongue. That puts me at fault too. IF *I* as an older person if I have not the courage to speak up, how can that child?
We need to act more like a community in all things, reaching out to our neighbours (and their children) in good times and bad. Getting to know each other, support each other, and in some case, report on each other. If we do more of the first two things, we will hopefully have to do less of the reporting.
The impact of abuse on children and the cost to communities is well documented.
The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study is one of the largest investigations ever conducted to assess associations between childhood maltreatment and later-life health and well-being. The study is a collaboration between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Kaiser Permanente’s Health Appraisal Clinic in San Diego.
More than 17,000 Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) members undergoing a comprehensive physical examination chose to provide detailed information about their childhood experience of abuse, neglect, and family dysfunction. To date, more than 50 scientific articles have been published and more than100 conference and workshop presentations have been made. http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/acestudy/
20,000 cases of child abuse in NZ is too many but is definitely better than 22,000.
IF Treasury were leading the war on child abuse on the basis of costs to the country of every case of abuse, it would be an even higher priority. This brief paper outlines the costs of abuse of children.
297 people died on our roads in 2014. Consider the time, media focus and money spent on reducing that.