New Zealand’s shameful child abuse rates have hit a “plateau” and will nosedive by 2014, our new Children’s Commissioner says. But Dr Russell Wills conceded figures revealing 25 hospital cases of infants suspected to have been assaulted before their first birthday in the year to April were “still too high”. Figures released under the Official Information Act also showed nearly 300 babies less than a year old were tagged with special assault codes at hospitals between 2006 and 2010.
Dr Wills, a Hawkes Bay Regional Hospital paediatrician who stepped into his new role just over a week ago, said New Zealand’s child abuse rates were still higher than in most OECD countries. He put that down to a high rate of children in poverty, low investment in services to support parents and services that had been allowed “to drift into things that don’t work”. But a combination of new campaigns and programmes, better collaboration and an increased awareness of child abuse would see the number of cases drop sharply by three years’ time, if not sooner, he said.
Will he resign if the rate doesn’t nosedive? Can we scrap the position altogether?
On the same day, we hear
RadioLive has obtained shocking new statistics on child abuse. Figures released to RadioLive under the Official Information Act reveal Maori children are being abused at a higher rate now than ever before. Maori make up more than half of the 21,000 children harmed in the last year, and the number abused over the last five years has also more than doubled to 11,000 in 2010. More than half of the 4000 children removed from families and put into foster care were also Maori.
And what does Maori also have – the lowest rate of marriage.