Govt Needs Target For Reducing Child Abuse

Media Release 24 January 2018
Family First NZ is calling on the Government to maintain the Better Public Services target on physical child abuse, even though the previous government had struggled to meet the target.

“The government’s priorities in this area should be the same as the previous government – to significantly reduce child abuse. To remove targets, no matter how difficult or challenging they may be, removes the motivation to make and measure significant and needed change,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

The target to reduce ‘assaults on children’ was introduced by Prime Minister John Key in 2012. By 2017, the government aimed “to halt the 10-year rise in the number of children experiencing physical abuse”. However, they admitted; “This is extremely ambitious. In 2011, numbers were rising, and projected to rise further without intervention. Meeting this target means bringing the projected number of approximately 4,000 children expected to experience substantiated physical abuse down to less than 3000 by June 2017, which is a reduction of approximately 25 per cent in projected numbers.”

State Services Commission Better Public Services: Supporting vulnerable children:
The number of children who experienced substantiated physical abuse in the 12 months to 30 June 2015

According to the latest State Services Commission report, in the year to September 2016, physical abuse was substantiated for 3,051 children, compared to 3,011 for the year to September 2015. However, police records show increasing rates of recorded offences of physical abuse of children. While physical child abuse found by CYF levelled out over the past 6 years, police statistics show a 200% increase since 2000 and this trend shows no sign of abating. Most disturbing is the increase in serious physical abuse resulting in injury that has increased by 86% since the anti-smacking law was passed in 2007. In addition, according to the police, “Assaults on Child offences are likely to be significantly under-reported to police.”

“Also of concern is that the government target of 3,000 children attempts to reduce child abuse only to the levels reported in 2011, rather than the lower levels as experienced in 2007 when the anti-smacking law was passed, or even those experienced at the beginning of the decade,” says Mr McCoskrie.

When the 2015 figures were released, Labour Party’s then-children’s spokeswoman Jacinda Ardern said the Government’s targets had served to highlight its failure to tackle child abuse. “Those are dreadful figures, yet police stats tell us the situation could be even worse than that…”

“The overall increase of almost double the number of cases found by CYF since 2004 alone shows that there is still much work to be done to protect our children from physical abuse by rotten and dysfunctional parents.”

“The government should be setting a goal that we can hold them accountable to.”

Detailed statistics available from our report “Defying Human Nature”

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