Child abused to death by family every 23 days
Recent figures released from the Family Violence Death Review Committee showed 16 children abused to death at the hands of a family member in 2009. This equates to a child being killed by a family member in New Zealand every 23 days. The committee also states that there may be some deaths from the end of the year that have not even been included.
Anthea Simcock, CEO and founder of CPS, New Zealand’s child protection specialist organisation says “the Chairperson of the Family Violence Death Review Committee called these figures ‘shocking but unsurprising’. This is so true. Whilst 2009 showed an increase on the average, children have been dying at the hands of those charged to care for them for ever. New Zealand has been at a crisis point in keeping our children safe for a long time.”
“If 16 children were killed in one incident, the entire country would be up in arms. However, because this has been happening for so long, people seem to have become complacent about the fate of children.”
Mrs Simcock also stressed that these tragic cases where the child dies is just the tip of the iceberg. “Thousands of children in New Zealand are suffering horrendous abuse at the hands of the people charged with nurturing them every day. And even more are suffering lower levels of abuse and neglect that just go under the radar, but can be just as harmful for the child emotionally and developmentally.”
“This research shows child abuse at its clearest and most stark. We need to start talking about child abuse. Bring it into the open. Child abuse is a massive problem in its own right. Let's not allow it to be hidden under the blanket of ‘family violence’, which doesn’t tell the full story.”
CPS, in partnership with Hamilton City Council, starts a local campaign today to empower people who are concerned about a child to take action to protect that child, and also to send the message that it is everyone’s responsibility to keep our children safe. This campaign called “Speak up for Children” has been funded by the MSD Community Action Fund.
To learn more about protecting children, or for information about CPS and the “Speak up for Children” campaign, visit www.cps.org.nz.