Family First Midweek Update (3 May) – hot off the press

1.One child in four in single-parent home
Dominion Post 30 April 2011
New Zealand has the third-highest rate of children living in single-parent homes, an OECD study says. This means nearly one in four Kiwi children are growing up in single-parent homes as more marriages break up and single women choose to enter motherhood on their own. Of 27 industrialised countries, New Zealand ranked third in the Doing Better for Families study, with 23.7 per cent of children living in a one-parent household, compared with the 14.9 per cent average across all countries. Children’s Commissioner John Angus said Kiwi children were four times more likely to be living under the poverty line if they were being raised by a single parent. …Family First national director Bob McCoskrie said children raised by married parents were able to provide the best opportunities for children. “We’ve tried to delude ourselves that family structure doesn’t make a difference, but it does.” READ MORE
Family First Comment: The issue of family breakdown and decreasing marriage rates is barely registering a mention or a policy, yet it is one of the most important social issues we are facing in NZ. The research presents strong evidence that family structure and especially marriage is more than a private emotional relationship. It is a social good and we should develop policies, laws, and family and community interventions to help strengthen marriages and families. It is time that government policies and rhetoric acknowledged that there is a difference in terms of outcomes between marriage and other forms of relationship.
READ “21 Reasons Why Marriage Matters”
2.Childhood stimulation may reduce adult violence
Reuters 28/04/2011
Toddlers in a program to encourage interaction and play with their mothers grew into adults with higher IQs, greater educational attainment and less involvement in violence than kids who did not receive the early stimulation, a new study finds. These latest results are the fourth follow-up in a series of studies since the early-childhood program ended, about 20 years ago. “The most exciting finding this time was the reduction in violent behavior, because that’s something we haven’t shown before,” said Dr Susan Walker, the lead researcher and a professor at the University of the West Indies in Jamaica. READ MORE
Family First Comment: We were always told by the anti-smacking anti-punishment brigade that smacking leads to violent kids. But this study refutes that, saying that mother interaction was a key to reducing violent kids. Not that this tells us anything new. Parenting style is the key – not the technique which is used or isn’t.
3.Police Should Show Compassion to Father

Family First Media Release 23 April 2011
Family First NZ is calling on the police to drop the charges against a father who watched his three-year-old son die in a submerged van, saying that the death of his son is punishment enough. “Whether an act of stupidity, neglect, or unfortunate circumstance, this father has received a life sentence – literally. He will have to live with the tragic outcome of the death of his son. What is the point of pursuing him further?” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. “In the same week that this traumatized family will bury their son, the father will have to appear in court. That shows a complete lack of compassion towards the family in such a devastating time.” READ MORE
Call for police to drop charge against grieving father
April 23, 2011 ONE News Police have been urged to drop a charge laid against a father whose three-year-old son drowned when the van he was in rolled into a lake. READ MORE
LISTEN Newstalk ZB LISTEN Radio Live LISTEN National Radio – The Panel 
Alarm as grieving dad gets charged
Southland Times 25/04/2011 Would-be rescuer and Central Otago Mayor Tony Lepper says he cannot understand why the devastated father of a boy killed in Lake Dunstan last week has been charged over the incident. …Family First New Zealand national director Bob McCoskrie said the timing of the charges lacked compassion and discretion. READ MORE
4.Better Sleep for kids more than a pipedream
Sunday Star Times 1 May 2011
Research has found 40% of children and teens suffer sleep deprivation, but the Kiwi behind a new study says the right techniques can see them catch up on missed sleep. “Few people realise that sleep is a necessity, not a luxury,” says Dr Geoff Kira. “Many New Zealand kids don’t get enough sleep. While adults can always catch up on lost sleep, the impact on children can be more significant, in that a lack of sleep can potentially impact on their mental and physical development, so it’s important to get it right from an early age.” READ MORE
5.Family Court review overdue – counsellor
Yahoo news April 20, 2011
The Family Court system has been labelled “a fractured matrix”, with one family counsellor saying a review is overdue. Steve Taylor, the director of Auckland-based counselling and mediation organisation 24-7, welcomed the review today, saying the “tattered legal jigsaw” within the court’s system was unsuitable for helping families in crisis. “The New Zealand Family Court system is a fractured matrix unfamiliar with the best practice evidence for working with families in a either a legal or best-practice context.” Mr Taylor said international research showed a number of the New Zealand processes were inefficient. In particular, he questioned the appropriateness of using the legal system to deal with most family disputes, and the role of compulsory mediation. READ MORE
6.Report reveals ECE shortcomings
Herald on Sunday Apr 17, 2011
New Zealand’s biggest study into literacy teaching at childcare centres – where under-5s are cared for and prepared for school – has revealed some alarming findings.
* 330 Childcare centres were inspected.
* 60% were lacking a focus on literacy.
* $115.50 The daily rate paid at a top-end childcare centre.
One expert has labelled teaching practices discovered in some centres as “quite dangerous”, while another says the report reveals our children are being sold short. READ MORE
7.Plea to parents after boy’s booze death 20/04/2011
Teenagers urgently need to know that drinking alcohol can kill them and parents have to know what to do if their children are intoxicated, Coroner Gordon Matenga says. His passionate comments when ruling on the death of 16-year-old Auckland’s King’s College student James Charles Webster, who died on May 9 last year after sculling Jagermeister and vodka at a birthday party. His blood alcohol level was found to nearly five times that of the legal driving limit. …”Perhaps if it were an offence to supply liquor to a minor as opposed to purchase liquor for a minor, then that may have been sufficient to give James Barwell-Smith and the person or persons that supplied alcohol to Alex Banks and his friends, pause to consider,” Matenga said. READ MORE
8.Children who have family meals are ‘less likely to be overweight and binge on junk food’
Daily Mail UK 2nd May 2011
Children who sit down to eat with their families are less likely to be overweight and eat unhealthy foods, according to researchers. They found youngsters who ate with their parents at least three times a week were 12 per cent less likely to be overweight. The children were also 20 per cent less likely to eat junk food, 35 per cent less likely to have eating problems like skipping meals or bingeing, and 24 per cent more likely to eat vegetables and other healthy foods. READ MORE