In recent posts in this series we’ve focused on the Children’s Social Health Monitor 2012 Update Report, see the the full report (pdf) here. Today we look at the the final Health and Wellbeing Indicator, and a wrap-up for the report.
INJURIES ARISING FROM THE ASSAULT, NEGLECT, OR MALTREATMENT OF CHILDREN
Every one is one too many, and the effects of child abuse (as detailed in the report) are both complex, and long lasting. Here’s the summary of the data relating to incidence, with the same socioeconomic / racial distribution as usual:
A UNICEF report on child maltreatment deaths, from 1994 to 1998, placed New Zealand near the bottom for deaths in the OECD, at number 24 out of 27 countries . The mortality rate for New Zealand was 1.2 deaths per 100,000 children under the age of 15 years, compared to the OECD median of 0.6 deaths per 100,000 children. A recent study published in the Lancet found no clear evidence of a decrease in child maltreatment in New Zealand over the past two decades . Between 2006 and 2010 there were 36 deaths due to assault among children aged 28 days to 14 years . Between 2006 and 2010 there were 13.9 per 100,000 hospital admissions for injuries arising from assault, neglect or maltreatment of girls aged 0 to 14 years, and 24.3 per 100,000 for boys . The rate of hospitalisation increased with increasing socioeconomic deprivation (RR 5.59, 95% CI 4.22–7.41 for NZDep deciles 9–10 vs. deciles 1–2), with rates of hospitalisation for Māori (39.1 per 100,000) and Pacific children (24.4 per 100,000) being significantly higher than for NZ European children (11.8 per 100,000).
After summarising these (and related) datasets, as usual the section ends. And that’s it, boom, end of the report (apart from Appendices on the data and statistical methods). I was surprised to find that the report didn’t finish up with conclusions and recommendations. Presumably their mandate was simply to present data, not to discuss its implications.
Nonetheless I think there are obvious conclusions to be drawn (they have cropped up time and time again in the data) and thus there are recommendations to be made. So I’ll have a go at writing a brief section myself.
My suggested CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Poverty causes many health, mental and social problems. In general there is a strong correlation with the degree of poverty – the poorer you are the worse it gets. Recommend: We should be taking serious action to eliminate poverty (there is every indication that such action would more than pay for itself in savings, for example to crime and health costs).
Families on benefits are disadvantaged, and unemployment is too high so too many families are affected. Recommend: The economy should be managed so as to create jobs instead of destroying them.
Benefits, in particular the DPB, are too low – children in these families are severely disadvantaged. Recommend: Raise the benefits.
In NZ the issue of poverty is inexorably bound to the issue of race. Maori and Pacific populations are the poorest, and therefore suffer the most from the ill effects (and the ongoing disadvantages) of poverty. Recommendation: Assistance should be targeted at the poorest. In the NZ context this means that assistance targeted to and in partnership with Maori and Pacific populations is likely to be the most effective.
The neoliberal “reforms” of the 1980s / 1990s did immense damage.
The detrimental effects of poverty are both complex, and long lasting. They limit social mobility and contribute to the significant inter-generational continuity of social problems. There is no “level playing field”. Recommend: Political policy should acknowledge these factors and work to “break the cycle” of poverty.
That’s it for the Children’s Social Health Monitor 2012 Update Report
I won’t summarise any current news this time, I’ll just point you to this excellent post at Local Bodies – “Child Poverty, No Plan!“. Go read it…
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.