I first alerted the Prime Minister and the Minister of Social Services Steve Maharey and Minister of CYFS Ruth Dyson early in the year 2002 about the existance and dangers of child abuse regarding my two estranged daughters ! They did not listen and the damage is done .
I am livid when I read the government's recent response to help victims of child abuse . They did not care then in 2002 , why should they care now ?
TRACY WATKINS and KERI WELHAM - The Dominion Post | Tuesday, 31 July 2007
Every New Zealander needs to act as a welfare agent, reporting any child abuse to counter a shameful culture of silence, political leaders and child welfare groups say.
A national outcry over the treatment of three-year-old Nia Glassie, allegedly spun on a clothesline and put in a drier, has drawn attention to what critics say are widespread failures in systems to keep children safe from abuse.
Prime Minister Helen Clark said yesterday it was "reprehensible" that neighbours were aware of Nia being abused but did nothing.
"It seems to me almost incredible that people were not aware within the wider family, neighbourhood and community."
Nia is in Starship children's hospital in Auckland with critical injuries, allegedly sustained in weeks of abuse at her home in Rotorua.
Days after the allegations became public a second Rotorua child, a 12-week-old boy, was admitted to the hospital with head injuries.
Labour MP Shane Jones said Nia's case highlighted the hopelessness of the plight of many children when adults failed to act.
"There is an element that we are losing in New Zealand, the view that `I am my brother's keeper'. I think a lot of people are genuinely afraid of these groups, these pockets of thugs."
Mr Jones said "kids need to be taken away" from parents in drug and alcohol-fuelled lifestyles.
United Future leader Peter Dunne threw petrol on to the debate by calling on Maori to sort out the problem.
"It is time to stop pretending that the kind of child abuse suffered by Nia Glassie and the Kahui twins is not a Maori problem. Within some families there is a culture of cover-up and collaboration that condones long-term child abuse."
Maori Party MP Te Ururoa Flavell said abuse was not the Maori way and Maori had the ability to stop "the scandal" in their own communities. "We all need to take responsibility."
Rotorua Mayor Kevin Winters said people should report any signs of child mistreatment and put aside concerns about politically correct behaviour.
"I want people to become nosy neighbours from now on.
"This is not a Rotorua problem. This is a New Zealand problem."
Family advocate group Jigsaw called on all people to come forward if they knew of child abuse.
"Many New Zealanders have turned a blind eye when they have witnessed child abuse in their community or have felt that they have no right to interfere in the way that other parents or families bring up their children," Jigsaw joint chief executive Liz Kinley said.
Unicef NZ executive director Dennis McKinlay said everyone had to become an agent for child protection.
Nia was in a stable condition last night.
Four of the five people charged with abusing her appeared again in Rotorua District Court yesterday as an angry crowd gathered outside.
A sobbing Oriwa Kemp, 17, her boyfriend Michael Curtis, 21 - who had a black eye - his father William Curtis, 47, and Michael Pearson, 19, were remanded in custody.
William Curtis is charged with abusing Nia over a four-month period, while the others face a joint charge of assaulting her in the three days before she was taken to Rotorua Hospital suffering convulsions and abdominal and severe head injuries.
Pearson is the nephew of Nia's mother, Lisa Kuka, 34. She has not been charged but her partner of two years, 17-year-old Wiremu Curtis, has been charged and is out on bail.
The front row of the court's public gallery was taken up with kuia from the Maori Women's Welfare League, who said they were there to show there are enough surrogate nannies to help.
"We don't have to put up with this disgusting habit, or whatever you want to call it," said Ruthana Begbie. "It's not good enough for us to sit at home and feel sick about it."