“A Families Commission study in Masterton found that some parents avoided seeking help for genuine injuries or assistance for parenting issues because of concern that state agencies would treat the family with suspicion and overreact,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. “And a former Health and Disability commissioner has echoed concerns of a district court judge that good parents are being viewed and treated as potential child abusers without good reason at Starship Hospital.”
“We have created a climate of suspicion and overreaction under the guise of tackling family violence, and targeted good law-abiding parents rather than targeting our resources and support towards families where there are obvious risk factors such as drug and alcohol abuse, previous history of violence, and family breakdown and dysfunction.”
Family First has already highlighted cases where parents have had heavy-handed intervention by state agencies when admitting they have given their child a smack.
“Having worked as a community youthworker in South Auckland for 15 years, it is clearly evident which families are at risk and there will be a number of agencies including schools which will see the warning signs,” says Mr McCoskrie. “This networking of information and warning flags is what will really help us prevent repeats of Coral Burrows, Nia Glassie and the Kahui twins – which is what we all want.”
“It is time we stopped abusing the definition of child abuse and targeted our energies and resources at at-risk families who are actually abusing and killing their kids. Otherwise ‘paranoid parenting’ will put our kids further at risk by good families not seeking the support they need.”