Business columnist, with a political twist, for NZ Herald

Not so crazy after all

Photo / Alan Gibson
Photo / Alan Gibson

Today, a 19-year-old Taupo man was jailed for throwing a three month old baby, who wouldn't stop crying, onto the floor, causing life-threatening head injuries. (See article here).

Only the quick actions of medical professionals saved this child's life, although one has to wonder what kind of life the quick-thinking professionals have saved this child for.

Because - naturally - the child was shown to have two serious previous injuries that had not healed. Yes, at three months old, the child had already amassed three serious injuries, two of those to the head and a torn upper lip that had not healed.

Worst of all, and again, far from surprising, is that the father of this poor unfortunate child, and the child's mother, have two previous children, both of whom are in care.

It is stories like this - and they are so frequent as to be almost wallpaperish by now - that should surely make us see the suggestion to offer monetary incentives to convicted child abusers to become sterilised for what it is - common sense.

I am aware that David Garrett resiled from his position, but to my mind it's a shame. Because the answers to why society continues to tolerate the most heinous, incompetent and fatal parenting need some different answers than the ones we have been coming up with in the past twenty years.

I am not a "far-right" thinker. I don't believe in Eugenics, I don't think it would be possible to force anyone to be sterilised, and I don't think one can be flippant about this kind of thing. And yet, I fail to see why anyone can be up in arms about the state stepping in to persuade known abusers not to reproduce.

The state has the right, because the state is precisely the body left to pick up the pieces when abusers go on to reproduce again, and again, and again. And by the state, I mean all of us.

The man who threw the 3-month-old on to the ground was 19 years old. That he had managed to father three children before the age of 20 is cruel in itself; there seems no way to ensure this man will not go on to repeat this pattern again, and again, and again. And his (ex) partner? No doubt on her way to still more children.

There is one small window of redemption open to people who find themselves repeating the pattern of deprivation, neglect and violence on their own children that was visited on them as children. That is to stop inflicting children on society who have no hope of having happy home lives. If they are not willing to do this, but might be swayed by the lure of $5000, why the hell not try it?

$5000 is a paltry sum compared to the bill society foots for every child brought into a home where there is known violence and neglect.

And let's not forget that to spare a child that fate is the most humane action of them all.

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Business columnist, with a political twist, for NZ Herald

Dita De Boni is a columnist, commentator and TV producer/journalist. She first wrote columns for the NZ Herald in 1995, moving to daily business news in 1999 for four years, and then to TVNZ in Business, News and Current Affairs. After tiring of the parenting/blogging beat for the Herald Online she moved back to her first love, business (with a politics chaser), writing a column for Friday Business since 2012.

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