Papa Don't Preach

Scott Kara's (rough) guide to being a father.

Papa Don't Preach: Reflecting on rising child abuse

Two year-old James Joseph Ruhe Lawrence - known as JJ.
Photo / File
Two year-old James Joseph Ruhe Lawrence - known as JJ. Photo / File

Merry Christmas Cezar. What do you want from Santa this year Sahara? And a very merry Christmas to you too JJ.

At least it might have been a merry Christmas for these young ones if they were still alive. Or would it? Given the horrific end that these young kids came to, December 25 would most likely be just another miserable day in the world.

Think of six-month-old Cezar. Still too young to even roll over when his mother's partner James Hemana shook and beat him so violently it rattled his brain to a bruised pulp. Sahara was only six when she died. And if two-year-old JJ was still here he would have perhaps been at the stage of comprehending the fact that Christmas day is a special day - one of presents, lollies, and love. For most of us that is.

In a recent Herald article about the rates of child abuse in New Zealand it pointed out that 166 children had been put on the "abused" list at Starship this year - up from 157 in 2011. That figure has no doubt already gone up given the frequency with which kids are getting belted and beaten by adults.

Child Youth and Family's official figures are also on the rise this year.

And come Christmas time child abuse - and domestic violence in general - tends to escalate given the added stresses of the festive season.

The good news, say the experts, is that despite the rise in child abuse more people are being turned in by those witnessing the abuse. Still there are those families who continue to close ranks, or turn a blind eye, to protect the culprit.

It's easy for me to sit here with my Christmas tree, nicely wrapped presents, and two little girls that I love dearly and say, 'Spare a thought for JJ, Sahara and Cezar as you rip into your presents on Sunday'.

But I'm going to try to at least because judging by the picture in the newspaper, that little JJ looked like a lovely fun young fella.

And looking forward to 2012, wouldn't it be nice to have less kids on that abused list at Starship?

As trite as new year's resolutions are, it might be time to do as the late great Marvin Gaye once said and "live life for the children, oh, for the children".

That lyric is from 1971's Save the Children, one of my favorite songs ever. When it kicks in, and takes off, it's one of the most impassioned soul serenades ever recorded.

Check it out on the album What's Going On - a record so affecting that it has the power to save kid's lives.

Listen to Marvin Gaye's Save the Children here:

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