Focus the Resources on Dysfunctional Families

Media Release 25 August 2011
Family First NZ is welcoming calls by the Rotorua Coroner to monitor families for child abuse to avoid repeat cases like the Nia Glassie case, but says that the focus should be on dysfunctional families where there are obvious risk factors and/or a history of dysfunction. 

“It is an absolute waste of resources and time to monitor families where there are no concerns about the physical or emotional needs of families and their children,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. “90% of NZ families don’t need monitoring – they simply need encouragement and support to continue doing the great job they’re already doing. To threaten to refer the overwhelming majority of well-functioning parents and families – who will quite rightly resist this intrusion – to social welfare agencies to be closely monitored, as was also previously floated by a past Children’s Commissioner, is flawed and pointless.” 

“How many times in abuse cases have we heard ‘the family was known to CYF’? It is families where there is family breakdown and instability, drug and alcohol abuse, low maternal age, mental illness, previous family violence – all the risk factors highlighted in reports over the past decade on child abuse – who we should be closely monitoring.”

“What Coroner Bain is calling for is not rocket science – to more closely monitor dysfunctional families. We shouldn’t have to wait for an inquest into Nia Glassie to figure that one out,” says Mr McCoskrie. 

“But for so-called ‘experts’ to call for monitoring across the board of all kiwi families is simply misguided and a waste of valuable time and resources.” 

“We need to go back to the old Plunket family model of supporting and working with new parents through the challenging first couple of years, responding to their needs, but the monitoring and spot checks need to be targeted where there are ‘red flags’ of drug and alcohol abuse, family violence present or past, instability and breakdown in adult relationships in the home, and signs of neglect and abuse which have been picked up by agencies, schools and doctors,” says Mr McCoskrie. 

“It’s also time that we ditched the Privacy Act provisions which prevent the sharing of information between agencies which quickly identifies dysfunctional families and children at risk.” 

“It’s time we more closely monitored dysfunctional families – not create a ‘police’ state around every good parent raising great kids.”


4 comments for “Focus the Resources on Dysfunctional Families

  1. Helen Johnstone
    25 August 2011 at 12:49 am

    Totally agree! Forget the nanny state approach! What you have said in your article es exactly what my husband & I said to each other when we saw this in the news. The families who do this sort of things to their children are already known to government agencies. Put more support and monitoring in place for families who need it and share information between agencies. DON’T waste time and money on families who are doing fine on their own and would have every reason to resist this intrusion. This suggestion is an over-reaction to a problem with a very small number of families in NZ.

  2. 25 August 2011 at 12:03 pm

    People who refuse to govern themselves open the door to totalitarianism.

  3. 29 August 2011 at 11:36 pm

    Check out these guys for an actual real solution for families This is a mentoring programme where local churches can provide mentors trained by FP that then work with families who put up there hand for some help.

  4. Mimitu
    30 August 2011 at 2:04 pm

    Having just finished reading Macsyna King’s story, one (of many!) comments that struck me was that even dysfunctional families need more than just being monitored. Macsyna suggests that providing some time-out for stressed parents would be a valuable way of helping tackle the causes of the abuse happening in these homes. Support such as offered by the website Matt Meek recommended also looks like a fantastic way to provide real help. Monitoring judges. We need to do more than that.

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