NZ has 'underlying current of violence towards children': Paula Bennett

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett launching the White Paper for Vulnerable Children at Te Papa, Wellington.Photo / File
Social Development Minister Paula Bennett launching the White Paper for Vulnerable Children at Te Papa, Wellington.Photo / File

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett says her newly launched White Paper deals with an incredibly complex problem, and it is "too simplistic'' to blame poverty for New Zealand's child abuse rates.

There were a hundred different factors for child abuse, of which poverty was one, Ms Bennett told TVNZ's Q&A today.

The White Paper on vulnerable children, launched on Thursday, was criticised by Labour's social development spokeswoman Jacinda Ardern and Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei who said poverty was the most significant factor in child abuse and it was not addressed in the paper.

But Ms Bennett today said it was such a simplistic argument in what is an incredibly complex problem.

"I think it's intergenerational. I think we have an underlying current of violence towards our children that is, quite frankly, unfathomable. I think that poverty...

is one of the causes.

"I can give you a list of a hundred different factors. It is complex,'' she said.

Ms Bennett has said she was confident that the plans set out by the paper - including a Vulnerable Kids Database of up to 30,000 children considered to be most at risk of maltreatment - would work, and results would be seen almost immediately.

The Government had put aside $20 million initially to set up the database and fund the 'risk predictor' model that would identify the children who needed to go on it, as well as set up the first two Children Teams; teams of health and social professionals who would work with vulnerable children in each region.

The full effects of the paper would not be seen for another 10 to 15 years when at-risk children become young adults and were having their own families.

"I think it will be in year's time, when I see those children that are thriving and are having a successful life as adults, that we'll really know. This is not a quick answer. You know, there is no quick solution. It shouldn't be in my parliamentary term.''

- APNZ

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