Tragic child abuse case brings focus on real causes

The tragic deaths of the Kahui twins have brought into sharp focus the real causes of child abuse in NZ.

While we waste energy and time on attempting to change laws to penalise and threaten good parents who choose a smack as reasonable punishment, we are ignoring the glaring problems that are prevalent in our communities,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of the Family First Lobby.

A recent UNICEF report1, which showed NZ as in the top 5 in the OECD for child abuse per head of population, identified poverty, domestic abuse and stress, along with substance abuse as the factors most closely and consistently associated with child abuse and neglect. The breakdown of the family is also a major factor. According to the report, children living in a 2-parent home are half as likely to be abused as children in a single parent family or not living with their parents.

And a recent Swedish government report2 stated “A weak family economy stands out as the background factor most closely associated with child abuse, sexual abuse, and bullying. The worse the family economy, the greater the risk of abuse.”

The Family First Lobby calls on the government to help reduce the prevalence of child abuse in NZ by;

  1. providing relationship, marriage and parenting education and early intervention support so that families have optimal chances for success, reducing the stress on families and the unacceptable level of domestic violence

  2. building an economy that is family-friendly – that doesn’t financially penalise a stay-home parent, that allows greater flexibility in workplace culture to cater for family needs, and provides tax breaks for families to offset declining housing affordability, and rising education, health and living costs.

  3. adopting a zero tolerance to substance abuse including alcohol and all illicit drugs

It is interesting to note that of the 5 countries with the lowest child abuse rate in the UNICEF report, 3 allow smacking,” says Bob McCoskrie. “Let’s focus on the real causes of child abuse.”


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