Stuff co.nz 21 November 2015
Children and teenagers are 50 per cent more likely to die of abuse in New Zealand than across the Tasman.
We don’t know why – the countries share such similarities – but, per capita, for every two Australians aged 0-19 who die due to negligence, maltreatment or abuse, three Kiwi kids die.
While the data is limited, we can’t ignore the fact New Zealand remains one of the most dangerous places in the OECD for young people.
Thirteen children aged 0-14 have died in suspicious circumstances so far this year – one of the worst on record and much higher than the annual average of 9.
Trends are unreliable with such low numbers. Jurisdictions lack common definitions for even basic terms, such as homicide. Research methods are inconsistent. All of this means there’s little internationally comparable data.
However, we can draw some conclusions from the figures available.
In 2003, Unicef’s Child Maltreatment Deaths in Rich Nations report was the first ever attempt to catalogue physical abuse of children in the 27 richest nations of the world. New Zealand had the third-highest child-homicide rate of children aged up to 14 years for the period studied – exceeded only by Mexico and the United States.
Even after statistical correction to eliminate bias, New Zealand only improved slightly to the sixth-highest rate.
In 2007, Unicef’s Innocenti Research Centre report revealed New Zealand’s children and teens were more likely to die from accidents and injuries than those in any other developed country.
In 2013, Unicef’s league tables on child wellbeing indicated New Zealand was still lagging when it placed the country near the bottom for infant mortality rates – babies who die before their first birthdays.