INDEPENDENT NEWS

Fathers killing children alarms agencies

Published: Sat 6 Nov 2004 04:20 PM
5 November 2004
Fathers killing children alarms family violence agencies
Family Violence agencies expressed alarm and distress today at the increasing number of fathers who have killed their children as a response to separation or disappointment in the relationship with their partner.
A four year old child was found dead in the backseat of a car after her father died in the path of a truck on the Auckland motorway this week.
In May this year Kelvin Mercer murdered his ex-wife and baby son Will and attempted to murder his two daughters. He was separated from their mother and she had a new partner.
Earlier this year an Otaki father murdered his two children then took his own life.
"It seems that men are increasingly responding to disappointment or rejection by taking it out on those closest to them," Sheryl Hann, National Collective of Independent Women's Refuge, spokesperson said.
"Too many men see their children and partners as their possessions and if women make choices to leave relationships men will often respond by threatening to harm the children, or themselves."
Research shows separation is an extremely dangerous time for women and children, as men struggle to come to terms with their feelings of jealousy or rejection and resort to violence.
"It is abhorrent that men still see violence, even killing their own children, as a valid response to a problem," she said.
"These men are often portrayed as loving fathers and partners, but if you love people, you don't kill them."
The four year old child who died this week was a powerless victim of adult violence, Heather Henare, Child Abuse Prevention Services spokesperson, said.
"Adults are supposed to protect children. In this tragedy on the Auckland motorway, the adult made his choice, but the child had no choice at all," Ms Henare said.
"Men have a responsibility to shield children from adult issues and not use them to punish their partner," Brian Gardner, National Network of Stopping Violence Services spokesperson, said.
"Men need to start doing things differently and taking responsibility," Mr Gardner said.
"Men who fear they may hurt someone need to get help urgently and those around them need to support them to change their behaviour. Often male friends and family members are in a good position to do this.
"People round this man must have seen the warning signs even if they didn't realise it. People need to speak up and intervene."
Warning signs that someone may be a risk to their family are :
* obsessive, possessive and jealous behaviour including stalking * threatening to kill or injure * threatening suicide * past violence * past breaches of protection orders or bail * a recent separation or change eg child's mother has a new partner * drug and alcohol abuse * access to weapons * family members say they are terrified.
A combination of these factors increases the risk for family members.
All murders by family members are predictable and preventable.
ENDS

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