Children's groups are concerned that targeting new child abuse measures only at the most vulnerable could mean others - such as children suffering so-called middle class neglect - are overlooked.

Elaine Dyer from Violence Free Waitakere said the Government's white paper set out strong measures to identify and deal with those who were most at risk but abuse and neglect were endemic throughout society.

Every Child Counts manager Deborah Morris-Travers said she was concerned about the paper's tight focus only on those considered most vulnerable.

"If you target too hard, there will be children who are vulnerable, but sit just outside the criteria ... "

Advertisement

Labour's social development spokeswoman, Jacinda Ardern, also said resourcing was critical.

"As a nation we spend more on pet food than we do on child protection."

She said the proposals did little to address one of the main factors behind child abuse: poverty.