Child abuse In New Zealand

In this paper we are going to stop at the most important issues related to the problem of children violence. The problem of child abuse has become rather acute one recently for many countries all over the world. This problem is closely related to not only human conditions of life, this is a vital problem to be solved for any country as it ruins the basis of the society as well as its future. Nowadays a lot of services and organizations are developed in order to provide the necessary support and help to children who are suffering from maltreatment.

There are however countries, where this problem became already flagrant and needs immediate consideration and urgent interference. As researches and reports prove – to one of such countries belongs New Zealand. Based on the results of the international study, done in the United Sates regarding violence against children, we can come to the conclusion, that many cases of violence remain hidden and there is even social approval for them, irrespective of the fact that there seem to be enough organizations in the world to protect children, namely “the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) and the World Health Organization (WHO)” (Wilson, 2005). However unfortunately at the moment it seems that there are still countries, where children abuse belongs to everyday reality, rather than to exceptional cases, New Zealand can be studied as one of the examples. There is a number of settings, which should be considered for controlling violence against children, they include: the home and family; schools and educational settings; other institutional settings such as orphanages, children in conflict with the law; in the workplace; and the community and on the streets. This is obvious, that violence against children is endemic (Barriere, 2005). Speaking about violence against children we are to include all the situations of children maltreatment: sexual abuse, neglect of parents at home, humiliating corporal punishment at school or kindergarten, awful cases of the so- called “honor” killing and so on.

According to the report presented in 2005 by UNICEF / INNOCENTI New Zealand occupied the 3d place in the world in terms of children deaths because of maltreatment. First of all it is important to consider the life of Maori children in this country, as they are known to suffer even more from violent treatment due to miserable life conditions and poverty. Researchers state, that Maori children are twice as likely to be abused or neglected (Bowis, 2003). “According to Christine Rankin, CEO of For the Sake of Our Children Trust, 60% of child abuse cases involve Maori, but the Maori people represent only 15% of the population of New Zealand” (Wilson, 2005).

It is not right to search for the sources of this problem only in Maori people, this is too simple and surface approach to the issue. This is true, that in social statistics for prisons, poor health and mortality rates, low income population the Maori people occupy leading positions.

The connection between financial conditions children are living in and likelihood of violent treatment is evident, as New Zealand belongs to one of the five countries, where the level of children poverty is especially high. However, this doesn’t mean, that there is no way out in this situation, on the contrary there is a huge necessity in finding means for developing and supporting educational and health services for these families and children first of all.

Sometimes, or even quite often we are not aware of the fact that today’s children are tomorrow’s adults, thus the representatives of the future society. The way they were used to live or to survive, they way they were used to struggle for life or to enjoy life, will be reflected in their social behavior when they become adults. Children abuse cannot continue without leaving a trace, it does influence the individual, his family and society, they are living in.

This is evident that the task of the New Zealand government is to work out the intervention and prevention strategies involving all social aspects. The ways to break the cycles of children maltreatment should be found and applied as soon as possible, moreover they should be concentrated on all aspects: family, where a child is brought up, schools, where children are educated, other kinds of surrounding, which are faced by children every day. It is necessary to provide special trainings for parents, for children themselves in order to make productive and worthy members of society of these children. We can admit, that New Zealand is developing such programs and they are operating, but still too little is done in reality in order to provide support and help for all who need it. “Until support and educational programs are made available and not just given lip service, abuse rates will continue to rise. Communities will be left in ruin with staggering crime rates, increased drug and alcohol abuse, truancy, and a gravely diminished workforce for the future” (Barriere, 2005). Very important is that we cannot limit all these effects only to Maori or other people of low life level, they have strong and constant impact on society as a whole, destructing and depraving life philosophy of young generations. Not a single person can feel himself laid-back from this problem, as denial of the problem and considering it to be a pure exaggeration is only the beginning, which is inevitably followed by growing anger, which brings only transformative solutions suggested. During the next stage there is somebody found to be blamed, when in reality everybody is responsible for the society he is living in and for its development in the future. As soon as realization, that such a problem cannot be solved within short period of time and with minor efforts comes, people start to be indifferent to it and the results of such an attitude are really destructive and irreversible. Thus the necessity to find realistic and valid solutions arises.

In the year 2008 the government of New Zealand was already urged to take more actions to alleviate child poverty in the country. “Commissioned by Children’s Commissioner Cindy Kiro and Barnardos, the report shows that about 230,000 children, or 22 per cent, of New Zealand children are living in unacceptable poverty” (St. John, 2008). The chief executive  – Murray Edridge ”“ underlined, that New Zealand is not longer able to risk the healthy development of children as productive human capital (St. John, 2008). Such problems however need the united efforts of families, communities, business sector and government to be solved. “The Pediatric Society of New Zealand urged the Government to take seriously the policies proposed in the report, so that every child in New Zealand was able to grow up to reach their full potential” (St. John, 2008). Poor life conditions have negative impact on all spheres of children surrounding ”“ health care, education, and future perspectives. According to Mr. Edridge “In the longer term, child poverty is associated with worse employment and earnings outcomes, alcohol and drug dependence, and poor health. Further, it leads to higher welfare, remedial adult education and other community costs.” (Bowis, 2003).

In order to have positive results it is necessary to embrace a lot of positions, including:

-            development and introduction of special policies exactly for those children, who are most likely to be subjected to violence ”“ such as street children, children who started to work at early age, children who are suffering from various forms of physical or mental disabilities, girls in general.

-            constant control of possible children violence at homes and institutions. For this it is necessary to provide the corresponding training for staff working there and create a reliable mechanism, which would seem trustworthy enough for children, who would need to turn to it for help in critical situation.

“Finally: all these and possible other measures should be a matter of priority for States Parties and for the effective implementation they should provide the necessary human and financial sources” (Skinner, 2007).

Overall, in this paper, we discussed the problems and possible outcomes of violence against children in New Zealand.

We studied a number of possible reasons, which became a fertile field for growing rates of child abuse; we considered in details the steps to be taken in order to struggle against children violence, which is a very dangerous factor for the future development of the social culture and society as a whole.

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