Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Family First - Child Abusers Are Also Women

Press Release: Family First
31 JULY 2007
Child Abusers Are Also Women

Family First says that the questioning of women entering New Zealand public hospitals about family violence is a step in the right direction towards tackling child abuse - but only a very very small step.

"This procedure will tackle 1% of the problem," says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. "However, it ignores a fundamental issue that women, including mothers, are also abusing children."

Recent cases include:
* a Napier woman admitted hitting her young children on the hands and arms with a hammer, belt with metal studs, punched children in head (April 2007)
* mother, 32, and stepfather, 27, convicted of beating 3 year old Ngatikaura Ngati (Otara) to death (June 2007)
* Porirua mum and step-father charged with mistreating 3 children including 5 year old admitted to Wellington Hospital with serious head injuries (June 2007)
* 28-year-old woman charged with murdering a newborn baby found dead in the backyard of a Te Mome Road property in Alicetown (June 2007)
* Mum-of-two found at P Lab. Charged with failing to provide necessaries of life and allowing home to be used for manufacturing P (June 2007)

And earlier high profile cases including Delcelia Witika, Mereana Edwards, Lillybing Karaitiana-Matiaha, Kalin St Michael, and Kathleen Harris.

"The approach also ignores research by the Christchurch School of Medicine showing that men and women are equally to blame in dishing out domestic violence," says Mr McCoskrie.

Family First reiterates that honesty and reality is needed in reaching solutions on child abuse.

It repeats its call for a 5-point Action Plan to be implemented immediately, which takes the responsibility out of the hands of politicians, and puts it firmly in the hands of local communities and organisations who are working with at-risk families on a daily basis.

The 5-Point Action Plan is:

1. establishing a non-political Commission of Inquiry comprising community leaders who are already working with at-risk families - to identify effective and achievable solutions to child abuse, and examining specifically the role of drug and alcohol abuse, family structure and breakdown, race-based issues, and poverty and stress.

2. immediate increase of support and resourcing of grass-root community organisations who are working with at-risk families and those attempting to stop abuse in the first place - for example HIPPY Foundation, Early Start, Family Help Trust and other early childhood home-based programmes.

3. increased investment and availability of parenting organisations such as Parents Inc, Triple P and other community based positive parenting programmes.

4. media-based anti-'child abuse' campaign, in the same way road safety 'shock' campaigns are run, raising the awareness of and encouraging 'positive' parenting and identifying what is abuse.

5. sentencing for those who abuse and kill our children to be substantially toughened to provide both a deterrent and a clear message of our community's disgust with the actions of people who abuse children.


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