Kerre McIvor

Kerre McIvor is a Herald on Sunday columnist

Kerre Woodham: Save our kids from toxic adults

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Nia Glassie. Photo / Supplied
Nia Glassie. Photo / Supplied

Hitler wasn't the first to promote the sterilisation of undesirables but he was certainly responsible for sterilisation's bad PR.

The concept of forcibly removing the reproductive capabilities of people deemed undesirable by the state is anathema to most thinking people, so it's not surprising that politicians, including those from his own Act Party, have distanced themselves from David Garrett's suggestion that woeful parents be offered $5000 as an inducement to stop breeding.

He wasn't necessarily promoting forcible sterilisation, though; just suggesting that people who want to limit their fertility be given the option to do so.

It's one of life's cruel jokes that those who are responsible for the most vicious treatment of children seem able to pop out babies at will, while other people spend years of emotional pain and thousands of dollars trying to have just one baby they can nurture and adore.

Tania Witika, along with her partner Eddie Smith, inflicted the most appalling torture on her 22-month-old daughter Delcelia, before leaving the baby alone to die in her cot of peritonitis.

Witika served 10 years of a 16-year jail term, came out of prison, married and two years ago - 16 years after she was jailed for killing her first daughter - she gave birth to another one. God knows how many children Eddie's bad seed is responsible for since his release from prison.

When you read of the injuries Delcelia Witika and Nia Glassie and James Whakaruru and "Lillybing" Karaitiana-Matiaha and Saliel Aplin and Olympia Jetson suffered, you can't help wanting to ensure the toxic adults in their short lives never have the opportunity to cause that sort of pain again.

A primal response to evil isn't the answer but I'm not such a flabby lefty that I subscribe to the school of thought that education is the key to ending child abuse.

And while I'm sure welfare agencies help many families, they can't seem to cope with child abuse either.

How many government, community, iwi and council agencies were within a 5km radius of the home where twins Chris and Cru Kahui died?

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett's announcement this week that she would be looking at the recommendations of a special task force into child abuse shocked me: I would have thought that they would already be in place.

Data-sharing between agencies is basic stuff, but right now that's not routine and it probably cost the life of 22-month-old Hail-Sage McClutchie, who died in Morrinsville last year.

Her mother has one child in CYF care; the second lives with the father's family and the third, Hail-Sage, died of head injuries in Waikato Hospital.

It goes without saying the children were all born to different fathers.

No one has been held accountable for Hail-Sage's death and CYF have admitted they hadn't known she was at risk.

I don't have the answer. I don't know how anyone can abuse vulnerable babies so I don't know how to stop them - short of lining the mongrels up against the wall and shooting them. (Little David Garrett moment there).

But our child abuse stats are absolutely appalling and every option to save kids' lives should be considered, no matter how extreme we might think it.

- Herald on Sunday

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