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.

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    Imperator FishBy Scott Yorke
    6 days ago
  • British inquiries are a sham
    We all know how it goes: the UK establishment does something terrible, like murdering people, or illegally invading somewhere, or burning hundreds of people to death in a high-rise incinerator. The public get justifiably angry. The government announces an "independent" ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Irrigation is a threat to public health
    That's the view of Canterbury Medical Officer of Health Alistair Humphrey:Drinking water in the Selwyn District is at increasing risk of contamination as more dairy cows are being farmed there, local residents have been told. [...] Dr Humphrey said it ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • On Metiria Turei and the Quality of Mercy
    The quality of mercy, according to the Bard, ‘is not strained’. Though I got the gist of it, I’ve never actually known precisely what ‘strained’ meant in this context. Enter Dr Google. ‘Strained’ means ‘not held back; freely given’. ...
    6 days ago

  • Government pays twice the price for emergency housing motels – with two more on the way
    Under Labour’s plan to build at least 1000 state houses each year, New Zealand wouldn’t be paying more than double the valuations for motels to house Kiwis needing emergency housing, says Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni. “Under questioning today, ...
    18 hours ago
  • HAM shows country needs Labour on housing
    The latest Housing Affordability Measure report shows affordability dramatically worsening for Auckland first home buyers, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. ...
    21 hours ago
  • Canterbury kids get more support for mental health
    Children in Canterbury and Kaikoura will get dedicated mental health support to help them overcome the trauma of the earthquakes, says the Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern. “We’ll fund an extra eighty mental health professionals for the next three ...
    1 day ago
  • Statement on Julie Bishop’s comments
    It is highly regrettable that the Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has chosen to make false claims about the New Zealand Labour Party. I have been utterly transparent about this situation. I stand by my statements this morning that I ...
    2 days ago
  • Labour stands with Pike families
    A Labour Government will stand with the families of Pike River and reaffirm its commitment to safe workplaces by ensuring there will be a Minister responsible for Pike River, says Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern. “The Pike River disaster ...
    2 days ago
  • Yes to Sallies – Labour will build more state houses
    The Salvation Army’s latest report ‘Taking Stock’ shows why New Zealand needs a Labour-led Government committed to a massive house building programme, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “When the Sallies say the country needs 2000 extra state houses a ...
    2 days ago
  • New Zealanders deserve better than scaremongering over water
    New Zealanders need to hear from National about how they will fund the clean-up of our rivers and lakes for future generations. Instead, National has broadened its scare-mongering, says Labour’s Water spokesperson David Parker. ...
    3 days ago
  • School Leavers’ Toolkit to equip young people for adult life
    Labour will give school leavers the practical skills and knowledge they need for adult life with a new School Leavers’ Toolkit, says Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern. “Our teachers and schools do a great job of teaching our children ...
    3 days ago
  • Pay equity to be a priority for Labour
      Labour will make sure that the country’s mental health workers are a priority when it comes to pay equity negotiations, says the Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern.  “It is very important for me to right the wrong created ...
    5 days ago
  • Labour’s positive education plan
    Today’s announcement on learning support is more tinkering and proof that only a Labour Government will deliver the resources that schools and parents are crying out for, says Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins.  “We have a positive vision for a ...
    6 days ago
  • Pike footage raises questions over government’s actions
    The Government’s seeming determination to turn a blind eye to new questions about what happened at Pike River Mine is troubling, says Labour’s West Coast-Tasman MP Damien O’Connor. ...
    6 days ago
  • Solution to rent rises lies in building houses and stopping speculators
    The spread of rental increases from the big cities to the surrounding regions shows why we need to get on top of the housing shortage build homes our families can afford, and lock out the speculators, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson ...
    7 days ago
  • Clean rivers don’t cost $18 a cabbage
    National is falling into a bad pattern of promising the world and not saying how they will fund it, says Labour’s Water spokesperson David Parker. ...
    7 days ago
  • Time for honest answer on transport funding
    National needs to explain how they will fund the $6 billion funding gap in their 10-year Auckland transport plan, says Labour’s Auckland Issues spokesperson Phil Twyford. ...
    7 days ago
  • Time for true numbers on overseas speculators
    It’s time for the Government to give accurate figures on the number of houses being bought by overseas speculators, says Labour’s Land Information spokesperson Raymond Huo. ...
    7 days ago
  • Fair and sustainable trade: A Green Party vision for New Zealand’s trading relationships
    Trade is a cornerstone of the New Zealand economy. It provides us with the things we want and need, and enables us to pay for those with exports that generate business opportunities and jobs. However, it should be recognised that ...
    GreensBy Barry Coates
    7 days ago
  • Clean rivers for future generations
    Labour will lead a nationwide effort to restore our rivers and lakes to a clean, swimmable state, says Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern. ...
    1 week ago
  • New Zealand really can do better on health
    Labour’s commitment to affordable access to high quality healthcare will provide a better service for New Zealanders than the current Health Minister, who will not apologise for statements that he made that wrongly criticised hard-working staff in the Southern DHB’s ...
    1 week ago
  • Labour’s plan the answer to motorway chaos
    Labour’s plan to build a light rail network and improve heavy rail and bus services across Auckland is the only answer to the kind of motorway congestion Aucklanders endured this morning, says Labour Transport spokesperson Phil Twyford. ...
    1 week ago
  • Labour to build rail to Auckland Airport
    A world class city needs a rail connection from the CBD to its international airport – that’s why Labour will build light rail to Auckland Airport as a priority, says Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern.  “Let’s get Auckland moving ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Is pay equity just too hard for this Govt?
    You are hard pressed these days to find someone that openly admits their misogyny, that men should still be paid more than women. Politicians proclaim that they want to see women paid more, but do their actions back it up? ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour’s commitment to our Rainbow nation
    The Labour Party has reaffirmed its commitment to New Zealand’s rainbow community with its 2017 Rainbow policy, featuring the goal to end HIV in New Zealand by 2025. Grant Robertson says Labour continues a long and proud tradition of advocating ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour’s vision for Auckland more than reheated roads
    Labour is more ambitious for Auckland than the reheated set of transport projects proposed by National, says Labour’s Auckland Issues spokesperson Phil Twyford. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Waiting urology patients are the tip of the iceberg
    The 10 patients waiting for urology surgery at Dunedin Hospital are just the tip of the iceberg, says Labour’s Health spokesperson David Clark.  "Hundreds of patients are waiting for follow-up appointments, but they are not deemed serious enough to be ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Maori Landowners Misled by Maori Party
    Māori landowners are being misled by Government hui being held throughout the country promoting the troubled Māori Land Service (MLS), which underpins the Crown’s unpopular Ture Whenua reforms, says Labour’s Ikaroa-Rāwhiti MP Meka Whaitiri. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Government’s Johnny-come-lately approach to multinational tax won’t wash
    It’s a case of baby steps for a Government that still allows multinational companies to avoid paying their fair share of tax, says Labour’s Revenue spokesperson Michael Wood. “After nine years in government, five years after the issue of multinational ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Auckland congestion up there with the world’s worst
    Traffic congestion is costing Auckland up to $2 billion in lost productivity according to the latest report from the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research, says Labour’s Transport spokesperson Michael Wood.  “This is a disaster and underlines the need for ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Experience in Youth Parliament 2016
    Being a Member of Youth Parliament was an unexpected, but fabulous opportunity for me. It provided me a way to connect with other young people who have some things in common, and to learn what it is like to be ...
    GreensBy NZ Green Party
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour backs renters’ call for warm, healthy homes
    80 per cent of renters wish their home was warmer and drier, and that’s what Labour will deliver, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • We can – and must – do better for Kiwi jobs
    Labour has the plan to get more young New Zealanders into jobs and tackle concerns raised in the latest statistics which show an extra 3000 young Kiwis are neither earning or learning compared to the same time last year, says ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Statement from Jacinda Ardern, Leader of the New Zealand Labour Party
    I want to start by giving my thanks to Andrew. His announcement today and the situation we have found ourselves in is not what anyone expected or wanted In my time working with Andrew I know one thing to be ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Better homes for Maori under Labour
    Labour’s vision is that Māori enjoy an equal playing field and have the same home ownership opportunities as non-Māori, says Labour’s Māori Development spokesperson Kelvin Davis. “Today Labour is proud to announce a detailed Māori housing policy from South Auckland’s ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Labour to build replacement for Gorge Road
    Labour will build a new road to replace the Manawatu Gorge Road as quickly as possible, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Government suppresses better transport options for Auckland
    A newly-revealed un-redacted report into options for Auckland freight movement shows the Government has been actively trying to suppress more efficient and cost-effective options to construct a third rail line, says Labour’s Transport spokesperson Michael Wood. “While Auckland’s congestion gets ...
    3 weeks ago
  • How to vote and keep your info private
    Going to vote or enrolling to vote can be scary. Having your details out there can open a can of worms. I wish we lived in a country where everyone was safe and secure enough to be openly enrolled, but ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    3 weeks ago
  • Coleman’s lost control of his Ministry
    Basic blunders and chronic underfunding revealed in Treasury documents obtained by Labour clearly show Health Minister Jonathan Coleman has lost control of his ministry, says Labour’s Health spokesperson David Clark. “Every New Zealander deserves affordable access to quality healthcare but ...
    3 weeks ago

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