Children learning violence from their families, police warn

By Laurilee McMichael

Police have a zero tolerance to family violence. Photo / File
Police have a zero tolerance to family violence. Photo / File

There are children in the community learning it's okay to behave violently and to control their family members, says Sergeant Rob Foster.

The Taupo policing area family violence intervention coordinator says he wants kids to grow up knowing that's wrong.

"In the seven or eight years I've been here I've dealt with family violence incidents with parents and now their kids are growing up and they're having the same in their own relationships," says Mr Foster, who prefers the term 'family harm' to family violence.

In Taupo, police work with a range of other agencies to prevent and deal with family harm. The years of "it's just a domestic" are long gone. Mr Foster says police have a zero tolerance to family violence.

"It's very rare that we deal with family violence with a warning. We're very, very keen to hold people to account for the offending."

He says notifications come from a mix of places - victims, friends, neighbours or passers-by - and some even from the perpetrators.

"We're probably only getting about 60 per cent of incidents being reported to us and I want to improve on that, but it's an improvement on five years ago."

Getting people other than the victim to call for help is important, as figures show victims will call police only one in every 20 family violence incidents and sometimes they need somebody else to take that responsibility from them.

"Call us. If you see that, call us, let us go and check that they're safe.

"The biggest thing people can do is to speak out ... because quite often people won't speak out themselves. Allow people around you to have that power."

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