The Bay's child abuse shame


Hawke's Bay child abuse prevention advocates are targeting the victims of abuse in a bid to stamp out the cycle of family violence.

In the past financial year there were 3525 child abuse notifications in Napier, 1051 required further action and 217 were cases of substantiated abuse.

The figures were worse in Hastings - 4016 abuse notifications, 1374 requiring further action and 476 substantiated abuse cases.

Family Works general manager Lorna Cowan said a number of programmes were in place to tackle the problem and give families tools to make better choices for their children and themselves.

The Hippy (Home Interaction Programme for Parents & Youngsters) programme was a preparation for schools programme designed to help parents.

"Some of our Hippy tutors will go around places like Flaxmere and actually door knock the parents.

"Hippy is about parents being given the skills to teach their children to be ready for school, and at the same time often literacy is an issue for those parents too, so they're learning alongside their children and learning better parenting skills."

However, child abuse wasn't a problem that only affected poorer areas of society, although poverty exacerbated the situation, Ms Cowan said.

Social workers in schools was another programme aimed at targeting child abuse victims before the violence became inter-generational.

More than 150,000 child abuse notifications were made to Child, Youth and Family (CYF) nationally in the past financial year, uncovering 61,074 cases that required further action and 21,525 cases of substantiated abuse.

CYF general operations manager Marama Edwards said the organisation received thousands of calls from people worried about children or families every year. Police notified CYF every time they attended a family violence incident and found a child present, she said.

The highest number of notifications that required further action were recorded in Whangarei, Manurewa, Tauranga, Waikato West and Wellington's Hutt Valley respectively.

Of the 21,525 substantiated abuse findings in the past financial year, 12,114 were emotional abuse cases, 3249 were physical abuse, 1396 were sexual abuse and 4766 were cases of neglect.

One of the key initiatives of the Government's White Paper on Vulnerable Children, released last month, was establishing a database of about 30,000 "at risk" children.

The database will assess the chances of a child being abused and act as an early alert system.

Also introduced were measures to keep potential abusers away from children, and the ability to strip parents of guardianship rights.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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