Editorial: No single answer to abuse problem

By Craig Cooper

When I read last week that Northland had the highest number of reports of child abuse "requiring further action", I had to ask myself, "what is being done about this?"

In the year to June 30, Northland had 2408 such reports followed by Manurewa (2363), Tauranga (2193), Waikato West (2191) and Wellington's Hutt Valley (1951).

Our region has a smaller population than all those centres.

Respected local physician Dr Roger Tuck and a CYF spokesperson both observed that they hoped the Government's White Paper on Vulnerable Children would help to make a difference. Liz Cassidy-Nelson, from the Whangarei Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG), was more forthcoming.

The White Paper, released last month by Social Development Minister Paula Bennett, was a good start in addressing child protection but failed to address the important issue of poverty, she said.

She was mindful to point out that there are 100 different factors for child abuse, of which poverty is but one.

But in Northland in 2010, 63.5 per cent of the region's babies were born into the three most-deprived deciles.

There is presently much focus on planning job creation in the region.

Job creation in Northland will help to counter poverty, that means that less children will be abused.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett's announcement that the nation's second Vulnerable Children's Team will be rolled out in Whangarei is also part of the solution.

There are multiple causative factors behind child abuse - so there is no single answer.

But if doctors, social workers, politicians and economic development agencies are contributing, then we shouldn't underestimate the part each of us have to play in jigsawing together the solution.

- Northern Advocate

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