With the third highest rate of child abuse in the western world, Plunket and the Paediatric Society is today calling for a halt to abuse, on the eve of the World Day for the Prevention of Child Abuse¹ (subs: 19 November).
On average, one child in New Zealand is killed each month by their parents and notifications of suspected abuse to Child Youth and Family (CYFS) are increasing by 2,000 a year. Child health professionals, including Plunket nurses, doctors and hospital nurses, see these children in their work every day.
Plunket president, Kaye Crowther, said we must take advantage of every opportunity to reinforce the fact that physical punishment increases the chance that children will be aggressive with others, have mental health problems or engage in criminal behaviour later in life.
"Zero tolerance of child abuse and more resourcing for evidence-based interventions, such as the SKIP programme aimed at positive parenting, are needed. We have a mountain of excellent positive parenting strategies which are either gathering dust or not operating to their full potential," said Kaye Crowther.
Paediatric Society president, Nick Baker, said the increased emphasis of CYFS working with community groups and greater targeting of well child services to areas with higher need are steps in the right direction.
"The repeal of Section 59 of the Crimes Act will make children equal with adults in the eyes of the law in regard to assault. Just as it is not OK to belt spouses, the elderly and family pets, so too is it abhorrent to belt children.
"Action for children cannot just be something for the future, it needs to start now," he said.
World Day for the Prevention of Child Abuse is recognised by non-government organisations on the day leading up to the International Day for the Rights of the Child (subs: 20 November).
Royal New Zealand Plunket Society Inc
Contact: Kaye Crowther, New Zealand President
Phone: 0274 335 976 (mobile)
Paediatric Society of New Zealand
Contact: Dr Nick Baker, President, 03 546 1800 (business) or
Dr Russell Wills, paediatrician, 0274 347 694 (mobile)
Craig Pollock, General Manager Marketing and Communications
Phone: 04 474 1526 (bus), 0274 345 312 (mobile)