Poverty Watch 44

Written By: - Date published: 9:28 am, August 17th, 2013 - 3 comments
Categories: national, poverty - Tags:

Two weeks ago the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) released, in two parts, a report into the links between poverty and child abuse (Part 1 pdf, Part 2 pdf). I covered Part 1 last week, today for Part 2.

This document is called “Child abuse: an analysis of Child Youth and Family data”. Early in the introduction we get this assessment of the National government’s policies to date:

The current National government has made a strong commitment to highlighting and addressing the plight of ‘vulnerable’ New Zealand children. The 2011 Green Paper on Vulnerable Children (New Zealand Government, 2011) (hereafter ‘Green Paper’) sought public submissions on dealing with child abuse. The Green Paper was criticised by many organisations working with children for its narrow focus (Caritas New Zealand, 2012; Child Poverty Action Group, 2012; UNICEF NZ, 2012) and its focus on dealing with child abuse by re-prioritising existing spending on social services. Based on public feedback on the Green Paper, the government produced the White Paper (New Zealand Government, 2012c) (hereafter ‘White Paper’). The White Paper failed to reflect the many submissions received that noted the role of poverty and deprivation in child maltreatment and neglect (New Zealand Government, 2012b). The White Paper included a Children’s Action Plan (New Zealand Government, 2012a) that had little to do with preventing the abuse of children but was more pre-occupied with identifying and tracking “high-risk adults and offenders” and workforce training and development.

In contrast to this narrow focus, here is CPAG’s position:

Two key points emerge from the large body of literature and research into child abuse: firstly that child maltreatment and neglect are associated with poverty, an association that cuts across individual and community characteristics; and secondly that child maltreatment and neglect occurs within a dynamic matrix of individual stresses and capabilities, changing household circumstances, and the wider family/whānau, communities and neighbourhoods (Wynd, 2013). This complexity means it is difficult to identify at-risk children reliably, and to design programmes that work to protect children. Indeed, accurately identifying at-risk children and designing programmes that are effective at protecting children in the long-term remains the Holy Grail of child abuse research.

This paper explores the association between poverty and deprivation and child maltreatment and neglect in New Zealand, as reflected in the data available from Child, Youth and Family (CYF). … The paper proceeds as follows: a discussion of the aims and methodology of the research including the strengths and weaknesses of the study; the results of the study; a discussion of the results and their implications; and finally a conclusion and some thoughts on areas of further New Zealand- based research.

I’ll skip the brief chapter on aims and methodology. The results section is organised as follows:

3.1 Substantiations by type: A breakdown of the “substantiated” cases of abuse by type. Emotional abuse dominates (over 10,000 cases per year) with Neglect second (around 4,000), then Physical (over 2,000), then Sexual (over 1,000)

3.2 Proportion of notifications resulting in substantiation: This section looks at the proportion of notifications that resulted in substantiated claims of abuse (typically 20 to 30%) broken down by year and region.

3.3 Proportion of 0-17 year olds who were victims of abuse: Shows the proportion of children who are the victims of substantiated abuse, broken down by region, from Papakura (4%) to far North (over 2%). This regional analysis was one of the few aspects of the report that attracted any mainstream media attention.

3.4 Rate of substantiated abuse findings and proportion of young people: No strong result here but “a higher proportion of young people in the population may be a factor in child abuse”.

3.5 Benefit uptake: This section correlated rates of substantiated cases of abuse with proportion of beneficiaries over various regions. There was no statistically significant effect. This is probably the most politically fraught data, so a brief quote:

The weak [not statistically significant] relationship between benefit receipt and child abuse may be no more than a reflection of the impact of the low incomes of benefit recipients (Perry, 2007). The data here shows no evidence of an association between benefit receipt and distinct substantiated rates of child abuse.

3.6 Ethnicity: The data collected had “shortcomings” so this brief section notes only that, as anyone familiar with the racial dimensions of poverty and race in NZ, that compared to Pakeha, Maori are overrepresented, with Pacific and Asian / Other more mixed.

Finishing with just a couple of quick quotes from the conclusion:

The data presented in this paper lends support to the proposition that higher rates of child abuse are associated with socioeconomic deprivation. This relationship is not conclusive in part because there is significant diversity within many site offices. However, the inclusion in the list of less diverse areas such as Clendon and Whakatane (which includes the low-income districts of Kawerau and Opotiki) strengthens the case. Conversely, the more affluent areas of Wellington City, Takapuna, and parts of Christchurch/Canterbury have far lower rates of substantiated abuse.

Of some surprise was the broad – although not definitive – finding that higher rates of child abuse appear to be linked to a younger population structure. Also surprising given the assumptions behind much current social policy was the finding that benefit income does not appear to be related to rates of child abuse.

Overall, even a cursory examination of the New Zealand data such as that presented here suggests that dealing effectively with child abuse will entail paying a great deal more attention to socioeconomic deprivation than has been the case so far. …

As I said at the end of last week’s post – 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.

3 comments on “Poverty Watch 44”

  1. red blooded 1

    Just imagine the clamour that would have been made if there had been a strong correlation found between benefits as income rather than lack if adequate income. Paula Bennett would have been in attack mode (& so would many other commentators).

    One wonders what the effects of halving the incomes of those judged not to be actively seeking work will be. Golly, more extreme poverty = more likelihood of..? Shameful.

  2. xtasy 2

    Those who abuse the disowned, downtrodden, dis-entitled, marginalised, exploited, shunned, shamed and persecuted parents, by blaming them for failing to be “responsible”, to feed, clothe and house their kids warmly and safely, while they are being denied the opportunity and support to earn sufficient through safe employment, or otherwise through sufficient welfare support, and then even intimidate them that they will be punished for failing “social obligations”, they are the greatest child abusers out there.

    One such child abuser would be Paula Bennett, as the Minister for Social Development, with the ultimate responsibility for her portfolio and her Ministry, and the departments that are administered under it.

    For every finger that is pointed at the alleged, blamed culprit, or suspect, there are at least three fingers at the same hand pointing directly back to the person who stretches out that finger.

    So dear Paula, you there in Henderson, at other times in the Beehive, sit down, do some reflecting, and perhaps let the penny drop. Perhaps look back in time, and remember the days you were there?

    The longer you are in your powerful role, the more you are losing touch with where you came from. Shame on you and your “leaders” in MSD, of whom I know, that you are the ones that ultimately think out and design the policies that you present us. They are thought out by their very own policy and planning departments!

    • +1 Xtasy, especially the first paragraph.

      The parallel between negative attitudes political parties encourage in the population toward those in less fortunate circumstances and ‘family violence’ are so blatant it is hard to see how they can be ignored.

      I’ve had enough of this crap.

      Humans are intelligent and good hearted when they make a bit of effort in that direction. Any effort, other than in that direction is a counterproductive complete waste of time. Its time we all worked that out and moved on from the ever-decreasing circles we are being led into.

Leave a Comment

Show Tags

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Bring back the Mental Health Commission
    The People’s Mental Health Review is a much needed wake up call for the Government on mental health, says the Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little.   “I applaud their proposal to restore a Mental Health Commission and their call for ...
    2 days ago
  • And the band played on…
    Making Amy Adams the Housing Minister five months out from the election is just the orchestra playing on as National’s Titanic housing crisis slips below the waves – along with the hopes and dreams of countless Kiwi families, says Labour’s ...
    2 days ago
  • Hotel no place for children in care
    ...
    5 days ago
  • Maybe not, Minister? Nick Smith’s housing measure suppressed
    Sir Humphrey: Minister, remember the Housing Affordability Measure work you asked us to prepare back in 2012? Well, it’s ready now.Minister Smith: Oh goodie, what does it say?Sir Humphrey: Nothing.Minister Smith: Nothing?Sir Humphrey: Well, sir, you asked us to prepare ...
    5 days ago
  • Inflation data shows many New Zealanders are worse off under National
    The latest inflation data from Statistics New Zealand shows that too many New Zealanders are now worse off under the National Government, said Labour’s Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson “Consumer Price Inflation (CPI) is now running at 2.2 per cent, and ...
    6 days ago
  • Another emergency housing grant blow out
      Emergency housing grants data released today show another blow out in spending on putting homeless people up in motels, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.   ...
    6 days ago
  • Families struggle as hardship grants increase
    The considerable increase in hardship grants shows that more and more Kiwi families are struggling to put food on the table and pay for basic schooling, says Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni. ...
    6 days ago
  • More tinkering, no leadership from Nats on immigration
    National’s latest tinkering with the immigration system is another attempt to create the appearance of action without actually doing anything meaningful, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. ...
    7 days ago
  • Suicide figures make for grim reading
    The 506 suspected suicides of Kiwis who have been in the care of mental health services in the last four years show that these services are under severe stress, says Labour’s Health spokesperson David Clark.   “If you do the ...
    1 week ago
  • Pay equity deal a victory for determination and unions
    The pay equity settlement revealed today for around 55,000 low-paid workers was hard-won by a determined Kristine Bartlett backed by her union, up against sheer Government resistance to paying Kiwis their fair share, says Labour Leader Andrew Little. “Labour welcomes ...
    1 week ago
  • DHB’s forced to make tough choices
    The Minister of Health today admitted that the country’s District Health Boards were having to spend more than their ring fenced expenditure on Mental Health, says Labour’s Health spokesperson David Clark.   “The situation is serious with Capital and Coast ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Nats break emergency housing pledge – deliver just five more places
    Despite National’s promises of 2,200 emergency housing beds, just 737 were provided in the March Quarter, an increase of only five from six months earlier, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Research underlines need for KiwiBuild
    New research showing the social and fiscal benefits of homeownership underlines the need for a massive government-backed building programme like KiwiBuild, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Social data security review too little, too late
    The independent review into the Ministry of Social Development’s individual client level data IT system is too little, too late, says Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni. “The Minister of Social Development has finally seen some sense and called for ...
    2 weeks ago
  • More questions raised on CERA conflicts
    With the admission that three more former CERA staff members are under suspicion of not appropriately managing conflicts of interest related to the Canterbury rebuild, it’s imperative that CERA’s successor organisation Ōtākaro fronts up to Parliamentary questions, says Labour’s Canterbury ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour to tackle Hutt housing crisis
    Labour will build a mix of 400 state houses and affordable KiwiBuild homes in the Hutt Valley in its first term in government to tackle the housing crisis there, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. “Housing in the Hutt ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Farewell to John Clarke
    This wonderfully talented man has been claimed by Australia, but how I remember John Clarke is as a young Wellington actor who performed satirical pieces in a show called “Knickers” at Downstage Theatre. The show featured other future luminaries like ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    2 weeks ago
  • Valedictory Speech
    Te papa pounamu Aotearoa NZ Karanga karanga karanga; Nga tupuna Haere haere haere; Te kahui ora te korowai o tenei whare; E tu e tu ... tutahi tonu Ki a koutou oku hoa mahi ki Te Kawanatanga; Noho mai noho ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Buck stops with Gerry Brownlee
    The fact that the State Services Commission has referred the CERA conflict of interest issue to the Serious Fraud Office is a positive move, but one that raises serious questions about the Government’s oversight of the rebuild, says Labour Canterbury ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Teachers deserve a democratic Education Council
    Teachers around New Zealand reeling from the news that their registration fees could more than double will be even angrier that the National Government has removed their ability to have any say about who sits on the Council that sets ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Free trade backers are simply out of touch
    Are the backers of free trade out of touch with public opinion? This was the question asked when the Chartered Accountants launched their Future of Trade study. I was astonished by the answer in a room of free trade enthusiasts ...
    GreensBy Barry Coates
    2 weeks ago
  • John Clarke aka Fred Dagg will be missed by all Kiwis
    The man who revolutionised comedy on both sides of the Tasman, John Clarke, will be sadly missed by Kiwis and Aussies alike, says the Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little.   “I grew up with Fred Dagg and I am ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour’s modern approach to monetary policy
    A commitment to full employment and a more transparent process to provide market certainty are the hallmarks of Labour’s proposals for a new approach to monetary policy, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Greens back Labour’s plan for monetary policy reform
    Labour plans to change the way we do monetary policy in New Zealand and the Green Party supports them fully. We’re now of a single mind on this. Labour will move away from our reliance on a single, unelected person ...
    GreensBy robert.ashe
    2 weeks ago
  • Greens back Labour’s monetary policy reform
    Labour plans to change the way we do monetary policy in New Zealand and the Green Party supports them fully. We’re now of a single mind on this. Labour will move away from our reliance on a single, unelected person ...
    GreensBy James Shaw
    2 weeks ago
  • Govt drops ball on Masters Games housing squeeze
    Families currently living in emergency accommodation face being forced out onto the street as motel accommodation in Auckland is filled up by contestants and visitors of the World Masters Games in coming weeks, says Labours social development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • State inquiry for Nga Morehu – The Survivors of State Abuse
    The Prime Minister must show humanitarian leadership and launch an independent inquiry into historic claims of abuse of children who were in State care, says Labour’s Deputy Leader Jacinda Ardern. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Coleman – ‘overwhelmed by disinterest’ and ‘conked out’
    Today’s trenchant criticism of the Government’s health policy by Ian Powell the executive director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists must trigger action by the Minister, says Labour’s spokesperson for Health David Clark. ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Statement on Syria
    Like the rest of the world, I have been horrified at the chemical attack on innocent Syrians that led to the deaths of so many men, women and children,” says Labour Leader Andrew Little. “The deliberate attack on civilians as ...
    3 weeks ago
  • The hard truth about that soft drink ad
    I am relieved that Pepsi has pulled its ridiculous commercial that obscenely co-opted the #BlackLivesMatter movement. At the very least, it was an awkward failure that tried too hard to be something it could never be. At its worst, it ...
    GreensBy Marama Davidson
    3 weeks ago
  • Journalism Matters: Interesting the public in the public interest
    Last week I launched two policies to support Kiwi journalism because as Bill Moyers put it, “the quality of democracy and the quality of journalism is deeply intertwined.” Journalism matters because it’s how we discover what’s happening in our world, ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes
    3 weeks ago
  • Homeownership rate hits new low; KiwiBuild needed now
    The homeownership rate has fallen to just 63.1 per cent, according to Statistics New Zealand’s newly released Dwelling and Household estimates. That’s down three per cent under National to the lowest level since 1951, confirming the need for Labour’s KiwiBuild ...
    3 weeks ago
  • OECD endorses Labour’s Future of Work approach
    An OECD report released today, highlighting the need for increased support for workers who are made redundant, is a strong endorsement of the direction of Labour’s Future of Work Commission, says Labour’s Employment spokesperson Grant Robertson. “We welcome the OECD’s ...
    3 weeks ago
  • The Government knows diddly squat about health funding
    Asked about the funding of the Auckland Regional Public Health Service, the Associate Minister of Health was at sea today on the typhoid outbreak, says Labour’s Health spokesperson David Clark.   “When I asked Nicky Wagner who was responsible for the ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Nicky Wagner blames disability workers for Govt’s funding failure
    Nicky Wagner displayed disrespect and sheer arrogance when she insulted disability support workers today, says Labour’s Disability Issues spokesperson Poto Williams. ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Parata in denial over special education crisis
    Hekia Parata has her head buried in the sand when it comes to the pressure that schools are under as they attempt to cope with an increasing number of children with severe behavioural and other learning support needs, says Labour’s ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Data-for-funding move hits Privacy roadblock
    The Government’s much-criticised grab for private client data from social service organisations has suffered another defeat after the Privacy Commissioner’s damning report, says Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni. “This is a defeat for the Government’s plans to force social ...
    3 weeks ago
  • New research shows need for government-led house building
    Research by economist Shamubeel Eaqub shows the need for the government to lead the building of affordable starter homes, as would happen under Labour’s KiwiBuild policy, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. ...
    3 weeks ago