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Stuff report on child abuse

Written By: - Date published: 12:32 pm, November 21st, 2015 - 123 comments
Categories: articles, child welfare, crime, human rights, journalism - Tags: , ,

Not exactly light or cheerful Saturday morning reading – but we should all read it anyway. Stuff’s (Katie Kenny & Blair Ensor) excellent special investigation:

Special investigation: New Zealand’™s shameful record of child abuse

New Zealand remains one of the most dangerous countries in the developed world in which to grow up, despite efforts from successive governments.

Thirteen Kiwi kids have died in suspicious circumstances so far this year – one of the worst years on record and much higher than the annual average of nine.

Every second day, a child is admitted to hospital suffering from inflicted injuries, including burns, broken bones and head wounds – with Starship children’s hospital in Auckland seeing more cases of serious abuse than ever before.

Police are being swamped with child abuse complaints and have boosted the number of detectives working on the sensitive cases in recent months. …

Read on on Stuff for plenty more. The piece concludes:


If you have concerns about the safety of a child, you can call police on 111 or Child, Youth and Family on 0508 FAMILY (0508 326 459) for advice.

If the social worker thinks the child is in immediate danger they will act on it within 24 hours.

Information can be provided anonymously to police via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

If you are a young person worried about what’s happening to you or someone you know, call Youthline for advice on free phone 0800 37 66 33, free txt 234 or email talk@youthline.co.nz.

123 comments on “Stuff report on child abuse ”

  1. Joy Clark 1

    FYI the media have made a gross error there… Leon Roberts was never abused by either of his parents. NO ONE has been convicted. To include him in the tragic list was a terrible mistake and the family is devastated. They have lost their baby and are being trashed on social media and now by the press. Not fair.

    • Reddelusion 2.1

      Or alternatively labour and the green declare another crisis

      • linda 2.1.1

        its not a joke to play politics with

      • Korero Pono 2.1.2

        @ Deluded go look at the White Paper for Vulnerable Children for your crisis – A Nat invention by the way – another flawed document that has been extensively criticised by the real experts on the issue.

        Another document designed to move the responsibility for vulnerable children into the community without resourcing the community to provide the support the children and their families need, in other words another money saving exercise for the Nats – meanwhile the rate of child deaths just keeps going up.

  2. Korero Pono 3

    Government’s been sitting on this problem for years and has not done enough to save lives of children at risk. Instead they have opted for review after review of the department and still they are not getting it right. They could try listening to the foremost ‘experts’ and ensure there are enough staff at CY&F just to start. Ensuring that there are enough ‘decent’ foster homes would also help. Then making sure that families are supported, instead of the current BS band aids in place.

    I have a few criticisms of CY&F and I am sure I am not the only one. CY&F have an extremely high and inconsistent threshold (this is a serious problem). Neglect has to be extreme to be deemed worthy of intervention (sorry I don’t have time to reference this stuff at the moment). In the past (though that is changing) a lot of professionals involved with children gave up on notifications to CY&F because their experience taught them that CY&F would not act. When CY&F do act (and that has to be serious), the intervention is often based on “you do xyz or else” – change is forced and may therefore not be lasting, only to become a problem again when CY&F sign them off.

    While the article is based on child deaths, it ignores the cases being brought to the attention of CY&F. Cases which are put on the back-burner until someone can pick it up (there are a lot of issues with time constraints and what that means for ‘investigations’. The 2014 CYF review highlighted that less than 25% of social worker time was spent working directly with children and families – the rest of the time was spent on bureaucracy. That review highlighted that the department were inadequately resourced, case loads were too high and because social workers were expected to meet certain KPIs this means that the work with children and their families is often a secondary focus. The latest CYF review is a complete waste of time and resources, with the main focus about trying to divert attention away from the fact that the department needs more resourcing and staff to adequately address the needs of children and their families.

    There is a lot more to be said on this issue but that is a few points to think about.

    • miravox 3.1

      Agree so much with making sure families are supported, and starting a lot earlier will take pressure off CY&F.

      According to Dr Patrick Kelly in the article:

      There hasn’t been any really serious investment in actually what the health system might be able to do.

      I’d start with support as early as possible through the health system to prevent child abuse. Support around pregnancy and birth too often falls away when new parents need it most. Postnatal support for new parents is seriously lacking – whether through distance from good parenting role models, or someone to hand the baby to from time to time (of clean-up, cook a meal etc) or from support services that could transfer knowledge to manage and engage with babies positively.

      Ensure new parents have the assistance they need to manage a new child, that they know what resources are available, that they have strategies for stressful babies and exhaustion. It would help if society acknowledged that knowing what to do to provide for a baby requires learning and that people can be shocked by a belated realisation of the demands that a baby brings.

      Providing new parents with the support they need will save CY&Fs, police and emergency departments picking up a lot of hurt children later on.

      • Lara 3.1.1

        Plunket is perfectly positioned to do this kind of work. Unfortunately they’re constantly underfunded.

        Its surprising how much work small babies are, how constant and demanding. Yet we call mothers at home “not working” and push them into the paid workforce and their babies into “day care”. Fine for those suited to this arrangement, but not fine for many.

        I think that much of the basis of our poor outcomes for children in this country is the denigration of the work that mothers do. If we denigrate it as “not working” its easier to give no support.

        I learned quickly when I was a SAHM that when I was in public company to respond to the question “what do you do” with the truth would see faces glaze over, as if I had no interest and no value.

        • miravox

          It’s also amazing how many people still think it’s easy to breeze on through with having a baby that will fit into an existing world rather that parents having to make adjustments. Many a relationship has foundered on the demands of parenting

          You’re right about Plunket and other postnatal services. I also agree that as long as mothering is devalued, so too will the services and support that are needed to perform that role well.

      • Psycho Milt 3.1.2

        Put better-equipped ambulances at the bottom of the cliff, sure. But maybe something at the top of the cliff might also help?

        • miravox

          I see it more as a safe (risk identification and reduction) pathway along the top of the cliff that is parenthood.

          Tie that in with improving access to adequate housing and primary health services, it’s also a much fairer and safer strategy than your broad hit and miss fixation on preventing poor people from having children.

    • Rosemary McDonald 3.2

      “I have a few criticisms of CY&F and I am sure I am not the only one. ”

      No, you’re not the only one.

      At the risk of getting another blasting from the Grumpy Ones…we were foster parents for a number of years. What prompted us signing up? A wee lassie who was beaten and tortured by her mother and partner.
      This little girl would cling to the teacher’s legs because she didn’t want to go ‘home’.


      “The school notified Child, Youth and Family Services. Board of trustees chairwoman Bev Cooper will not say what follow-up came from that call, or how many times the school called CYFS, but is confident the school acted appropriately.

      But sources told the Weekend Herald that CYFS made one phone call to Mereana’s home to ask if there was a problem with her care, and was told by one of the accused that all was well.

      No other call, no home visit and no follow-up were made.

      CYFS will not discuss Mereana’s case except to say its actions were “appropriate” and would not be reviewed – a decision made by chief social worker Mike Doolan with the Commissioner for Children’s backing.

      Asked if a single phonecall to one of the people alleged to be abusing the child was appropriate, a CYFS spokesperson was “not sure if we’re prepared to comment on that.”

      Two weeks before Mereana’s death, Edmonds was reaching crisis point.

      The abuse was out of control and she was having intensive counselling. Around this time plans were made for Mereana to return to her Nanny.””

      end quote.

      So…CYFs were notified, they phoned and spoke to one of the abusers and was told all was well. Mereana’s mother was having counselling for fucks sake…and no one thought to scoop that wee lassie up and put her somewhere safe?

      The ‘word’ went out that there was a shortage of foster homes…so we put our hands up…BUT…there was only so much of CYFs incompetence we could take without coming to the conclusion we were enabling further abuse of these children….this time by CYFs.

  3. Jay 4

    I totally agree. Cypfs staff are snowed-under, and have very limited resources. It’s very similar to mental health actually, neither department have the time or resources to do anything properly, especially in metropolitan areas.

    Setting aside humanitarian reasons, the social cost of leaving kids to be abused is enormous – they go on to be abusers, addicts, mental health patients etc etc. This all costs us down the line.

    As for needless bureaucracy, don’t get me started. It’s rife in every government agency and is a huge burden on good workers.

    Every time though that we scream for accountability, the usual reaction is to create more red-tape.

  4. Reddelusion 5

    Best way to get rid of bureaucracy is to implement a competitive framework and a profit motive to compete with sluggish state sector, the competing firm does not have to be a traditional private corporate, could be workers cooperative , a union owned business ie a chance for all you lefty to put your many words into action

    • Paul 5.1


    • Lara 5.2

      Oh yeah. Making a profit out of abused kids.

      That’s gonna work.

      Kinda like how making a profit out of imprisoning people is working so well.

      Oh wait….

      • Paul 5.2.1

        BM and his ilk are really quite hate-filled people.
        Always seem angry.
        Sad to see.

      • Reddelusion 5.2.2

        As long as a better outcome for kids re profit incentive, who cares. An example the quality of rugby and athlete has improved mega fold since a profit motive was introduced to rugby, there are 1000s of more examples you just need to break your silly idealogicsl view of profit Turn it around, the threat of making a loss also incentivises more urgent action and innovation, just think of your own circumstances, none of this incentives exists in public sector with soft budgets

        • DoublePlusGood

          The difference is that child protections services is already a professional endeavour, so there are no gains to be made by turning it into a private professional endeavour, and indeed, it will be done worse as the same money would have to attempt to perform the service and turn a profit for a company – which quite obviously results in a decline in the quality of service.
          Rugby on the other hand was amateur, and now it is professional.

        • One Anonymous Bloke

          Bollocks: success will shrink the market.

        • Rosemary McDonald


          “An example the quality of rugby and athlete has improved mega fold since a profit motive was introduced to rugby,”

          You use a gladiatorial, televised spectator sport to illustrate how awesomely wonderful are profit driven ventures.

          You actually seriously float the notion that the same model could, and should, be applied to addressing the appalling rates at we kill our youngest New Zealanders.

          At this point…right here…readers of this thread should have simply blanked out any further comments from you.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 5.3

      The “best way” is to abandon the economic infanticide right wingers call policy.

    • Korero Pono 5.4

      Oh hey deluded, you mean SERCO?

      • Reddelusion 5.4.1

        Exactly Cerco are been taken through the wringer for non performance, not so state run prisons. you need to give these things time. Responding to other point that Cfys are already professional, don’t confuse staff with underlying environment it carries out its function. Again all I can say here just look at how profit and loss motivates you personally, it’s not that difficult of a concept

        • Korero Pono

          @ deluded I think you hit the nail on the head when you stated “Cerco are been taken through the wringer for non performance”. Thanks for acknowledging that Serco are useless! As to giving Serco time – when it comes to abuse and saving lives and given they have already proved their incompetence both here and overseas (http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/nov/11/serco-is-failing-but-is-maintained-afloat-thanks-to-australias-refugee-policy), I don’t think they deserve time to screw up kids lives more.

          If the CYF environment carries out its function – what do you think that function might be in this case?

          In regard to personal profit and loss motivation – I think the standard would vary from individual to individual because not all human beings are motivated solely by profit – survival yes, profit is more about greed than survival. I know a number of individuals (usually those least able to afford it) who willingly give to those worse off than themselves. Something about being poor makes you learn that treating human beings as commodities is a dick move. If you are motivated solely by the profit motive, then that is your choice but don’t tar everyone with the same brush – profit is usually gained off the sweat of someone elses hard work and human misery.

    • Richard@Down South 5.5

      It hasn’t worked for prisons… Serco keeps failing their targets miserably, or covering stuff up (as well as in the UK).

      Health spending should be looked at as in investment (both mental and physical) and its so much cheaper to do preventative health, than to have the ambulances at the bottom of the cliff, as it were

    • Have you ever worked in a private business? Bureaucracy is rife there too, especially large corporates. And competition is actually inefficient in many cases, duplicating infrustructure, creating more downtime, etc… It’s not a fix-all, and it doesn’t really work for the sorts of things the public sector is asked to do.

      This is just blind ideology talking.

  5. NZSage 6

    Child abuse is apolitical.

    All MP’s should be working their collaborative arses off to improve New Zealand’s shameful record on this issue.

    • Korero Pono 6.1

      +100 but they won’t.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 6.1.1

        No, they won’t. And why? Because all the solutions that will work (and we know they’ll work because they’re backed by overseas example) are too Socialist for them.

        They’d rather children die than give up their precious dogma.

        • Korero Pono

          + 100 I think this has something to do with deluded’s ‘profit loss motive’ – reducing humanity to a dollar value. It is a false economy and dogma and they know it – there is enough evidence to show the long term cost benefits of supporting children and their families now.

  6. Gangnam Style 7

    & Key is walking around in some hotel foyer in his undies. He spas while NZ burns.

  7. Jay 8

    First of all Cypfs need to identify a set of goals, decide what good performance looks like, then instill that vision into their staff.

    I just bet that they won’t be using what resources that have efficiently, and being a government department the workers will be divided into goal driven go-getters with a strong work ethic, and lazy free-loaders. I should know btw,I work for a government department.

    Working for the government it’s just too easy to skive off, and laziness and incompetence is tolerated for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that lazy incompetent people are often promoted. The main reason though is in a normal business poor performance will hit the boss in the pocket, obviously that’s not the case in government departments, in fact many supervisors being lazy themselves can’t see what’s in it for them to address poor performance, it’s far easier to do nothing since nobody cares anyway.

    Sorry to be so negative but that’s how I see it anyway. If they’re anything like my workplace (and I’m actually certain we are far more efficient and effective) a culture shift would see some great results. Without that extra staff will achieve little.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 8.1

      Keep fiddling around with ambulances all you like. You are being offered a fence: it’s cheaper than the ambulances but you rejected it because it’s painted red.

    • RedLogix 8.2


      I have worked 40 years in both public and private sector organisations. While they are different in some respects, neither has any claim on being inherently more efficient.

      Efficiency is nothing more than a number, it is the ratio of desired outputs over consumed inputs. But when people use this word they almost never stop to define exactly what inputs and what outputs they are talking about, and failing to do this renders their use of it meaningless.

      Another common mistake is to use a measure of efficiency from one context (eg the private sector) and apply it to another (the public sector) – where the actual inputs and outputs are quite different in nature.

      The problems you mention, lazy free-loaders, the promotion of incompetence, wrong or misdirected incentives are absolutely rife in the private sector as well. These are problems of human nature and are common everywhere.

      • Reddelusion 8.2.1

        Yes the private sector is not perfect but eventually if you are not meeting market expectation you go out of business or are aquired via the market of corporate control, reflecting the value aquirer obtains by getting rid of your inefficiencies that is reflected in your firm been undervalued There are no such diciplins in the state sector, hence the rise of private enterprise and corporates by now been the greatest driver of economic activity over the state ( every where, even socialist countries, albeit I do agree capitalism does require a degree of external regulation as per previous blogs)

        • Korero Pono

          @ deluded – children are not commodities and the motive should never be profit when it comes to them. Whenever any individual, corporation or Government reduces a child’s value to profit, it is abuse – it is state and corporate abuse because the motive will not be what is in a child’s best interests, it will be about the profit that they can extract from that child.

          • Reddelusion

            What are you on about. Profit is simply the indirect benefit of achieving the outcome for the children,

            • Korero Pono

              @ Deluded – No, profit is the motive – outcomes are less important but just to tick the boxes ‘let’s manipulate the data (just like Serco did) to achieve our KPIs’ – that is how the private sector would treat vulnerable children.

            • One Anonymous Bloke

              Total and complete gobshite for the reason I’ve already explained. You’re introducing financial incentives to ensure infanticide is here to stay.

        • One Anonymous Bloke

          What complete bullshit. The market is driven by the GINI coefficient and is completely outside of the control of providers, who will measure “success” by the market shrinking to nothing.

          Oh, plus we tried your bullshit for the last thirty years and children die in greater numbers. Stop lying and get out of the way.

          • Reddelusion

            You make no sense OAB, apart from and anger issue

            • One Anonymous Bloke

              That it makes no sense to you says something about you. You’re attempting to introduce market incentives to a situation where success is measured by how small the market (tackling family violence) is.

              Your opinion depends upon you not realising this. Good luck.

            • RedLogix

              OAB at has explained perfectly why the private sector notion of ‘efficiency’ is almost wrong when applied to the public sector.

              There are no such diciplins in the state sector, hence the rise of private enterprise and corporates by now been the greatest driver of economic activity over the state

              Again you take an idea from a private sector model, and mis-apply it to the public sector. The public sector is (or should be) driven by democratic political accountability. It just acts on a longer time-frame than you may be used to thinking about.

              The fact that, despite working for a govt. entity you don’t realise this, also says something about you. But neither do I find this surprising; nat govts don’t really believe in the public sector, so they tend to be very shit at making it work.

              • Reddelusion

                He has done no such thing, all he has done is confirm a pre determined bias and group think on this blog

                • RedLogix

                  There will always be a large market for social services to argue otherwise as a justification that it should simply be left to the state is reduculous

                  The underlying idea of the ‘group-think’ on this blog would be to reduce, minimise and ideally eliminate that market.

                  Is the state the only possible actor here? Of course not; in the short-term I’ve no especial objection to some specific, narrowly focused social services being contracted out. That is the kind of thing the private sector is good at.

                  But in the longer run, given that the obvious goal here is to reduce the size of the market, then all your usual private sector models and incentives are a complete mismatch.

                  My pre-determined bias is for no poverty at all.

                  • Reddelusion

                    Your confidence in the state is admirable

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Well, the state has a track record of success in this area, and the market doesn’t. Being able to recognise this isn’t “admirable” – it’s a simple consequence of taking personal responsibility.

                      Something sadly lacking in those who pay the most lip service.

          • Korero Pono

            +100 – neo-liberalism has failed, continues to fail and will always fail and in my opinion and the opinion of a lot of others (including academics and politicians) is implicated in the rising levels of poverty and child abuse that we see today.

            • Reddelusion

              Possibly in the rarified world of left wing academia who survive on state largess and left wing blogs but thankfully not in the real world where such views are held by a dwindling ageing but noisy minority, Even Draco and CV will attest labour are Neo liberal at heart, unions are disappearing, young people see entrepreneurial endeavour,individualism as the future, socialism is dying but painfully

              • RedLogix

                Yes we are an ageing, noisy minority. That’s because we are the ones old enough to remember the world, imperfect as it was, before this:

                The report states:

                Almost half of the world’s wealth is now owned by just one percent of the population.

                The wealth of the one percent richest people in the world amounts to $110 trillion. That’s 65 times the total wealth of the bottom half of the world’s population.

                The bottom half of the world’s population owns the same as the richest 85 people in the world.

                Seven out of ten people live in countries where economic inequality has increased in the last 30 years.

                The richest one percent increased their share of income in 24 out of 26 countries for which we have data between 1980 and 2012.

                In the US, the wealthiest one percent captured 95 percent of post-financial crisis growth since 2009, while the bottom 90 percent became poorer.


                And BTW – you are an ageing noisy minority too. All individuals are.

              • One Anonymous Bloke

                The people dying painfully are children, cheered on by right wing trash.

        • Paul

          Or like the banks in 2008 you extort $700 billion from the government.

    • Korero Pono 8.3

      That may be the case in your work place and I am sure that is true in all or most work places, however my understanding is CYF staff do not have time to ‘be lazy’ as they are constantly chasing their tails to get through their case loads – case loads which are too high (see the 2014 CYF review).

      In the 2015 year (ending June) there were a total of 83,871 notifications made to CYF (http://www.cyf.govt.nz/about-us/key-statistics/care-and-protection-notifications.html), which by anyone’s standards is extremely high and I doubt the department can thoroughly investigate every notification. An expert in the field identified that work loads are too high in New Zealand in comparison to overseas and disregards best practice (http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/245545/call-to-refocus-social-workers'-role) – in other words, staff work loads are putting children’s lives at risk.

      • Reddelusion 8.3.1

        Never accused CYFS people of been lazy, their environment is not conducive. Wrong strategy, wrong structure, possibly wrong training , wrong processes, wrong systems, wrong measures ………. Very rarely have I found people are purely at fault, I find most people want to do a good job and work in an efficient evironment

        Subject closed now on my part, exhausting but a good debate RWNJ signing off😀

  8. reason 9

    The Nats care more about flags than abused or murdered children …..

    Under the nats we have dropped from 7th in the world down to 23 in the education rankings ……….

    It will probably get even worse with the gutting they have done to early childhood/kindergarten standards…..

    “The Government has cut the money to early childhood services that have 80% or more of their teachers qualified. News recently that kindergartens are being forced to cut qualified teachers is of no surprise.” https://blog.greens.org.nz/2015/10/16/early-childhood-cuts-and-doing-our-best-for-children/

    National have delivered us to the place where we are now number 1 in the world for domestic violence ……….. It’s the world cup for violence that john key can truly say he helped win for us.

    He and his ministers have also seen to it that our kids have more chance of catching life impacting poverty related diseases like rheumatic fever, whooping cough and poor health brought about by crowded unhealthy living conditions …………

    But specifically regarding violence, abuse and the drug alcohol ……. The nats pretend to be tough on crime but does anyone believe that if Helen Clarke was prime-minister instead of John Key that the roastbusters would have not have been prosecuted ????????

    Maybe John Key was relying on his then ‘law and order’ expert mike sabin …….

    Kids and young people do not seem to matter under this government ………………

  9. New Zealand remains one of the most dangerous countries in the developed world in which to grow up…

    Lies, damned lies and statistics. New Zealand is indeed a dangerous place to grow up in, if you’re among the kids being raised by your mother and a succession of waster boyfriends. For kids outside that category, New Zealand is a very safe place to grow up in. Reducing the number of kids growing up in that dangerous category would offer the best reduction in child abuse stats, but it’s not obvious what CYF could do to get these kids’ sperm donors to put a bag on it.

    • Ad 11.1

      Male birth control implants.

      Failing that, two round rocks and hold still.

    • Rosemary McDonald 11.2

      Bugger me dead Psych Milt…sigh….go and bloody read the short (i.e. not tooo many words for you) descriptions you will find if you click on the image of the children.

      Very few come from the particular group you are narrowly focused on.

      Reducing these children down to a statistical group is an insult to their lives.

      At least do them the courtesy and read their individual stories.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 11.2.1

        But, but, but, PM has a straw to clutch at!

      • Psycho Milt 11.2.2

        If consideration of statistical probability is an insult to the victims of crime, then the linked article, a hell of a lot of other articles, and a wide range of sociological research insults the victims of crime. Fortunately, the premise is untrue.

        The article’s claim, that “New Zealand remains one of the most dangerous countries in the developed world in which to grow up,” is a statistically-based one. However, it’s a misuse of statistics. For the great majority, NZ is not a particularly dangerous country in which to grow up – there’s a risk that you’ll suffer child abuse, but not a significantly higher risk than in other developed countries. However, if you’re being raised by a sole parent on a benefit, your risk of abuse is a hell of a lot higher than for the majority – one piece I read put the risk of abuse at 13 times higher. The fact that few of the cases described in an article you read came from that category doesn’t alter the stats.

        EDIT: went back and found the reference for the “13 x” claim – it actually referred to children raised for at least 9 years on a benefit, not specifically sole parents.

        • One Anonymous Bloke

          Don’t worry, you won’t let that reality check stop you repeating the same rhetoric the next time the issue comes up.

          • Psycho Milt

            Oh, sure. The “reality check” that being raised long-term on a benefit gives you an abuse risk 13 times the non-long-term-beneficiary one totally demonstrates that I’m wrong about the risk factor being wildly different for different categories of family (or “family,” as the case may be). How could I have been so stupid?

            • RedLogix

              Oh give up you two. Statistics is one of the two topics I ever got A+’s on so quit the bs.

              Of course you are both right, depending on what measure of ‘rightness’ you are trying to apply. And whether you are considering the individual cases or the collective aggregate.

              If one person in a thousand will die from a particular illness, this is obviously bad for that one person, but neither is it meaningless for the other 999.

              If we fund medical research that totally cures this disease – it becomes an interesting question – who has benefited? The one per thousand who used to die from it or the 999 others who now have their risk of dying from it eliminated?

              It very much depends on how you want to define ‘benefit’. But as a society we have always decided that it is in the collective interest to fund medical research for the collective benefit – even when most individuals will not gain from it.

              • And if the stats show that particular circumstances dramatically increase that risk, should we look closer at what it is about those circumstances that causes the increased risk and what we might do about it, or should we obfuscate and write articles that misuse statistics to pretend the risk is evenly distributed? If you choose option 2, ur doin it wrong.

                • One Anonymous Bloke

                  It’s the way you characterise the grinding inevitability of inequality and poverty in such terms as to blame the victims. That’s the particular rhetoric I’m referring to.

                  As for Redlogix’ funding for disease, I suspect something to fix distended amygdala syndrome is in order.

            • Korero Pono

              @ psycho while you quote that rubbish and showing your stupidity (what is the original source for the stats), a critical thinker would ask themselves the question about why is that the case.

              While you are on a beneficiary bashing exercise – evidence confirms a link between single parenthood, work and increased risk of child deaths. The Gilbert et al article referenced below outlines that the reasons for this is because single working parents (particularly those on low incomes) have higher levels of stress related to having to juggle both work and raising children. This evidence shows (and the other author referenced) that being on a benefit in and of itself does not cause someone to abuse their child. However it does show that single working parents on low incomes are at higher risk. Which really makes a mockery of the Government’s White Paper on Vulnerable Children. There is a clear link between inequality and child abuse. In New Zealand this is pertinent because the increase in both child deaths and child abuse cases has risen in line with inequality and poverty (Wynd, 2013). I would be so bold to say that it is in fact Government policy (in particular Neo-liberal policies) that have created an environment that has led to children becoming the unfortunate victims of parental stress.

              Gilbert, R., Spatz Widom, C., Browne, K., Fergusson, D., Webb, E., & Janson, S. (2009). Burden and consequences of child maltreatment in high-income countries. Lancet, 373, 68–81

              Wynd, D. (2013). Child Abuse: what role does poverty play. Child Poverty Action Group Retrieved from: http://www.cpag.org.nz/assets/Publications/130610%20CPAG%20Child%20Abuse%20Report%201%20June%202013.pdf

              • …you quote that rubbish and showing your stupidity (what is the original source for the stats)…

                Yeah, nice to talk to you again too. Funny you should ask, given that the 13x figure comes from the MSD’s own data, but they did a fine exercise to “misuse statistics to pretend the risk is evenly distributed.” The MSD data is here: http://www.msd.govt.nz/about-msd-and-our-work/publications-resources/research/childrens-contact-with-msd-services/index.html. Lindsay Mitchell explains the attempt to conceal the 13x figure here: http://lindsaymitchell.blogspot.co.nz/2013/08/child-abuse-rates-in-beneficiary.html.

                …a critical thinker would ask themselves the question about why is that the case.

                Well, you’d think so, but I’ve given up expecting critical thinking from people in the social sciences. It’s pretty clear there’s something about being raised long-term on a benefit that causes a massive increase in your risk of suffering child abuse, but fucked if there’s any sign of the nation’s social scientists taking an interest in why that might be.

                While you are on a beneficiary bashing exercise…

                I’m not. Here’s what you people never get: it’s a fact that being raised long-term on a benefit hugely increases your likelihood of suffering abuse. That’s simply a fact – if you want to leap to the conclusion that it means social welfare beneficiaries are somehow by definition morally inferior to people not currently on a benefit, that’s your prerogative, but leave me fucking well out of it, if you don’t mind. This is about statistics and social structures, not about who’s a better person than somebody else. If you can only think in terms of who’s a better person than whom, just leave your keyboard alone.

                • Rosemary McDonald

                  @PM “It’s pretty clear there’s something about being raised long-term on a benefit that causes a massive increase in your risk of suffering child abuse,”

                  In a discussion elsewhere about this issue…it came up that those from the more affluent sections of Town are less likely to be suspected or accused of abusing their children. This does not mean that abuse is not happening in those homes. Not by a long chalk. Just ask your rich mates….

                  Beneficiaries are low hanging fruit.

                  To save another comment…those wishing to profit from child abuse, those wishing to capitalise on the misery of others might be a little pissed off if it was decided that instead of handing over thousands of dollars per child per annum on state funded child farming the government would give that money to the custodial parents to do with what they chose.

                  • This does not mean that abuse is not happening in those homes.

                    No shit, Sherlock? It’s almost as if statistics covered probabilities other than 0 and 1, right?

                • Korero Pono

                  @ Psycho – if you didn’t read the earlier post I wrote in reference to Gilbert et al, the link to child abuse is not benefit receipt it is in fact poverty (and all the stressors that go with that), as well as social exclusion – i.e. being a single working parent on a low income increases the risk of infanticide – in this case benefit receipt has nothing to do with child deaths. Poverty and child abuse is linked, however child abuse occurs across all socio-economic groups. The White Paper for vulnerable children links benefit receipt to child abuse without explaining why that might be. Ask yourself the question why? (hint it fits into the Government’s agenda to target those on Welfare and introduce sanctions – ironically increasing the stressors that lead to child abuse)

                  Whenever we grasp a small detail i.e. blindly accepting that being on a benefit causes child abuse that is by virtue an attempt to denigrate a particular type of person, instead if you look underneath that you might actually understand that link is not being on a benefit but poverty. Naturally the Government does not want to acknowledge the link between poverty and child abuse (despite overwhelming evidence that shows the correlation) because the Government has no will to address the issue of poverty and inequality. Benefits in New Zealand are woefully inadequate and the Government knows this. Instead of doing the right thing and giving parents with children enough to support those children, the Government instead writes a nice paper stating that beneficiaries are more likely to abuse their children, so now we must push them out into the workforce to find non-existent jobs because being on a benefit is bad for the kids. (Ironically this very policy is likely to increase the stressors on single parents, which Gilbert et al have shown is linked to increased risk of infanticide) – this is a dick move from the Government.

                  Being poor in itself does not mean someone will abuse but all of the stressors that go with poverty increase child vulnerability – including parents ability to protect their children from the environment in which they are forced to live. For example poor state housing and those areas – increased social problems, increased crime, increased health problems, increased drug and alcohol problems, increased mental health problems (all related to the stressors of poverty).

                  Psycho while you stick to your mantra and your flawed stats (i.e. framed in regard to benefit receipt rather than poverty) then you are supporting a process that denigrates beneficiaries, this is beneficiary bashing. That is what the Government wants you to believe and do – you are only doing what they want, it is not your fault you are so easily deceived – that is why critical thinking is important.

              • …evidence confirms a link between single parenthood, work and increased risk of child deaths.

                While I’m at it. The above is (uh, duh-uh) why pretty much everyone who’s looked at the subject and bothered to put their brain into gear has recommended that children should be produced by couples who want to raise children, and that the inevitable situations in which that doesn’t happen are unfortunate and we should avoid them to the extent possible.

                • Korero Pono

                  @ Psycho naturally I would expect this type of comment from you. Again you are suggesting only certain types of people should breed – your comments do not account for the realities of life. For example the women who find themselves living with the abuser who was once the nice guy, finding herself on her own raising children. Or the women who find themselves being left to raise children on their own for various reasons (or the men for that matter), or those unfortunate enough to have a partner die. Life is not all picket fences and sunshine and children are born to all types of families.

                  Regardless of which type of families children are born to, they deserve a decent start in life, something that they won’t get while we live in a society that under values them and the role of parenting.

    • Korero Pono 11.3

      Hey psycho are you going for the eugenics argument again – speaking honestly doesn’t that make you a nazi?

      The problem with your solution is it does not address the current problem. Children do exist and wishing they were never born denies their humanity, it reduces them to a mistake, a mere inconvenience to be ignored and wished away.

      Meanwhile those children growing up in ‘safe’ homes (by the way which ones are those?) – they will grow up into a world where a large proportion of children have developed numerous social problems as a result of their ‘unsafe’ homes. So while their homes may be ‘safe’, the society they live in will become increasingly complex and dangerous. Next thing you will be advocating detention centres or gated communities so that the children from ‘safe’ homes don’t have to mix with the children from ‘unsafe’ homes.

      • Psycho Milt 11.3.1

        OMG, it’s just like the Nazis!

        I suggest acquainting yourself with how statistics work before embarrassing yourself further. Hint: it’s about “more likely” vs “less likely,” not 0 vs 1.

        • Korero Pono

          Avoiding the question and the information with semantics?

          • Psycho Milt

            Avoiding the question? That’s pretty funny. Have you stopped beating your spouse yet? Please be sure not to avoid the question with semantics.

            I didn’t bother taking your comment to pieces because there’s so much wrong it’s a lengthy process, but since you’ve asked…

            The problem with your solution is it does not address the current problem.

            Reducing future instances of child abuse doesn’t address the current problem, no. However, no “must address the current problem” criterion for commenting was specified.

            Children do exist and wishing they were never born denies their humanity, it reduces them to a mistake, a mere inconvenience to be ignored and wished away.

            Good luck wishing a kid away. Some kids are accidents and as far as I’m aware, there’s nothing in our human rights legislation to deny them the same rights as anyone else. However, a fucking good starting point is to at least make some attempt to avoid having a kid you didn’t want. If you can’t even be arsed doing that, your likelihood of being a shit parent is high.

            Meanwhile those children growing up in ‘safe’ homes (by the way which ones are those?)…

            Here’s where you don’t understand statistics. “Safe” homes are homes in which the kids don’t get abused. Statistical reporting offers no information about whether any individual home will fall into that category or not, so your question is pointless.

            …they will grow up into a world where a large proportion of children have developed numerous social problems as a result of their ‘unsafe’ homes.

            Sure. And what statistical reporting can do is provide information on what types of families are more likely or less likely to be “unsafe.” At which point, you can target the most likely types. As long as you’re willing to be honest about the “more likely” and “less likely” part, and don’t try to pretend that type of family has 0 effect on likelihood of suffering abuse.

            Next thing you will be advocating detention centres or gated communities so that the children from ‘safe’ homes don’t have to mix with the children from ‘unsafe’ homes.

            Next thing you will be advocating re-education camps or gulags so that the people you think are fascists can have their lives directed to productive labour. Or not, if we just get a fucking grip on ourselves and stop spouting bullshit.

  10. Tanz 12

    Good to see the anti-smacking law is working, just as promised…..sarc…

    • One Anonymous Bloke 12.1

      No, the promise was that people who beat their kids won’t be able to hide behind legal loopholes any more. It was opposed by people who want to beat children. I expect you’re one of them.

    • Tracey 12.2

      Sad to see pro smacking children people still dont understand why s59a was required.

      • Tanz 12.2.1

        Sigh. If the s59a was working then NZ wouldn’t have the dreadful child abuse stats it does, which have increased since its introduction. All it did was punish good parents and ignore the ones who main and abuse. Wasting my breath, here, I know. The argument will soon get twisted…

        • One Anonymous Bloke


          What drives violence against children? Can it be fixed by application of the criminal law?

          Economics, mostly, and, erm, no. Unless we criminalise Ministerial manslaughter.

        • Tracey

          You are talking about something you hve scarily liitle knowledge of.

          S59a removed a defence it could never stop abuse at best it could hold some to account after the event

          Please cite 15 court cases indicating where good parents were punished under s59a

        • Korero Pono

          @ Tanz – The anti-smacking bill actually protects children. Hitting children teaches them that violence is okay, prior to the anti-smacking bill they were treated like they were lesser beings in the eyes of the law. You know how that went, you could smack your kids and get away with it but do that to an adult and you were up on an assault charge. I don’t understand how the anti-smacking bill punishes good parents, good parents wouldn’t hit their kids, it is that simple. Not twisting your words at all but it is sad that there are still pockets in New Zealand that believe that violence toward children is okay. NO violence is okay.

    • Treetop 12.3

      Hold on there, had it not been for the anti smacking legislation more children would have been murdered or brain damaged.

    • To expand on OAB’s point… the so-called “anti-smacking law” repeal of §59 wasn’t designed to prevent all child abuse. It was designed to stop acquittals for people who were literally beating their children with weapons, who would plead that their whipping their children with hosepipes (or similar) was “reasonable force,” and would be able to successfully convince juries that they had a valid defense under §59.

      It was inappropriate and it has ended since the repeal, which has actually increased discussion around domestic violence and propably done a lot of good in making parents more aware of the appropriate use of force. But it was never intended to completely end domestic violence, it was just one step closer to some of its victims getting justice. Everyone involved in the law change knew this and wasn’t trying to over-sell it, so if you got the wrong impression, I highly doubt it was from any supporters of the repeal.

    • millsy 12.5

      The S59 amendment was designed so people like you couldnt beat your kid with a a rubber hose after you catch her kissing her boyfreind (or discovering she was pregnant) and then getting a christian lawyer to get a christian jury to get you off because it was reasonable force.

  11. Treetop 13

    What a difference a billion dollars a year spent on the most needy children would make. Key’s legacy will be his frivolous tax cuts, which did not target the poorest children. I am sick of hearing the government say how much extra money they have put into services for children because a lot more money is required.

    I did not have to hear the latest dreadful tally of deaths to know that the average number of child killings each year had been exceeded this year.

    From 1 April next year part time work testing (when the youngest child is age 3) will push an already stressed out parent further. My fear for children is that they will be left with an unsuitable carer who could easily become frustrated or angry and harm a child. I would rather see children attend childcare/kindergarten and the parent attend some sort of adult education (a short course twice a year until the youngest is age 5).

    The list of subjects I would like to see offered would be:
    Reading, writing maths
    Child development
    Adult development
    Healthy relationships
    Home sewing
    Health care
    Self esteem

    I could go on and on.

    For those who would like to study part time or full time I would like to see them funded by at least 50%. When someone already has a child/ren they have more day to day costs than people without a child/ren.

    The struggle to put a roof over the head of a child/ren and a parent/s has never been as hard as it is today. 100,000 health low costs homes need to be built, hospital admissions and poverty would be halved.

    I have previously stated that the focus has to be on the needs of the child first.

    • Rosemary McDonald 13.1

      “I would rather see children attend childcare/kindergarten and the parent attend some sort of adult education (a short course twice a year until the youngest is age 5).”

      Or…do the course that covers all of the subjects you list but instead of the child going to some faraway kiddiecare farm…have an onsite creche where the parent can still be very close to their child.

      Anther skill they would learn is to be able to pay attention to their children as well as doing other tasks.

      In a safe environment.

      Teen mother units used to work on this principle.

      (The latest report on ECE does not say positive things about a child’s communication and socialisation skill acquisition…the unedited one anyway;-))

  12. Rosemary McDonald 15

    And from the mouth of a child killer….


    “Earlier that day, after emergency services were called to the Housing NZ property, Joachim initially claimed Duwayne had hurt himself during a fall in the bath three days earlier

    “He got a hiding because of his attitude, not listening and not doing what we were saying to him,” Joachim answers.

    “He allowed someone to just take his jumper from him [at school] and he kept on telling so many stories about what happened to his jumper and he wouldn’t even own up.”

    He picked up his stepson from school about midday then beat him at the Fergusson St flat over the course of an hour while “trying to explain to him how important it was to tell the truth instead of spinning all these stories”.

    (Duwayne’s mother)..found him semi-conscious, incontinent, struggling to breathe and partially paralysed down his left side after suffering a stroke.”

    Eight days later she called the emergency services.

    The last eight day’s of this wee boy’s life were spent in pain and misery.

    • millsy 15.1

      ““He got a hiding because of his attitude, not listening and not doing what we were saying to him,” Joachim answers.”

      The words that all parents say after they lay into their kid with a 4 x 2.

    • Tracey 15.2

      And prior to s59a, this parent could claim that he believed that this was reasonable discipline, and IF a jury believed, that “he believed” that, they needed to aquit him. It was a highly subjective etst reliant solely on the offenders beliefs about discipline.

      Now, he still has to go through a process, and he has some defences, but believing it as reasonable discipline is NOT one of them.

      • Rosemary McDonald 15.2.1

        I am fairly sure that at the time, when the fists and feet are being applied to a small person, the Law is not foremost on the murderer’s mind.

        Afterwards, while the child is suffering, before the merciful oblivion of death, it is obvious from some of these accounts that the murderer and others close to the child know DAMN well that was has occurred is against the Law.

        • Tracey

          I know that Rosemary. My comment was in relation to the s59a conversation. Which could only ever send a general message that believing what you are doing is reasonable discipline IS NOT acceptable in NZ anymore.

  13. Rosemary McDonald 16

    More from Stuff’s “Faces of Innocents”


    Coral Burrows, Saleil Aplin and Olympia Jepson, James Whakaruru….all killed by their mother’s partner.

    • Thanks for backing up my comment 11. I see from that article though that Jan Pryor, like a lot of social scientists, knows little about evolution. Would it kill social science academics to read some actual science occasionally?

      • Tracey 16.1.1

        You’ve made some good comments, imo, in this htread BUT your disdain for social science academics detracts from many of your points. Your self righteousness and academic arrogance won’t actually help advance your viewpoint.

        • Psycho Milt

          My disdain for the social sciences comes from having studied one of them at a university, from long acquaintance with its academics, from decades of reading news stories that highlight its methodology (correlation=causation errors backed up by confirmation bias), and from direct personal experience of having recommendations based on that methodology adversely affect my health. It’s by no means a casual dismissal of the field.

  14. Rosemary McDonald 17

    The authors of the Faces of Innocents series have posted this….


    They list the Government reports, papers, discussion documents etc on child abuse
    over the past 23 years.

    1992 the Mason Report….well worth listening to Ken Mason discussing this.
    1993 Craig Manukau case review….
    2000 Brown Report
    2000 James Whakaruru case review
    2009 Prime Minister Helen Clark comments
    2002 CYF strategy for abused Maori children
    2003 CYF baseline review
    2003 CYF phone calls to be taped
    2007 Unicef report
    2009 Families Commission report
    2009 Never shake a baby campaign
    2010 police safety orders
    2011 Reasonable steps to protect a child
    2012 Children’s action plan
    2015 Vulnerable children’s act

    ….plus another forty five further ‘promises on child abuse’.

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