Rodney Hide: Government is keeping abusive parents afloat

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Shockingly, 5.4 per cent of all New Zealand children have a substantiated finding of emotional, physical or sexual abuse or neglect by age 5. That's more than one in 20 children. Photo / Thinkstock
Shockingly, 5.4 per cent of all New Zealand children have a substantiated finding of emotional, physical or sexual abuse or neglect by age 5. That's more than one in 20 children. Photo / Thinkstock

Here's a quick quiz. You are a child. Who is most likely to kill you. Your mum? Your dad? Stepdad?

Police have the answer after analysing family violence deaths over the past seven years. The answer is clear.

It's your mum. By a long margin.

You are more than twice as likely to be killed by your mum than your stepdad. Mum is five times more likely to kill than dad.

It's not what you would expect. It's certainly not the sense that you get from the news. That's because mums who kill their babies go largely unreported.

Five of the 15 children killed by mum were newborn babies whose mothers concealed their pregnancy and killed their babies immediately on birth. Six children were victims of their mother's suicide.

As depressing and as shocking as their deaths are, they don't make the news.

That's in stark contrast to the news of delinquent stepdads who torture and murder their children and the trials by media and jury that follow.

It's not exclusively a Maori problem either, despite the impression the news gives. The killer mums were overwhelmingly non-Maori.

The killer mums also had no history of violence. Not one of them had a previous conviction for violence. It's all too easy to draw the wrong conclusions from the news.

We get a clearer picture with mistreatment though. Our instincts on this one are right, even though anyone publicly stating the obvious is shot down.

Shockingly, 5.4 per cent of all New Zealand children have a substantiated finding of emotional, physical or sexual abuse or neglect by age 5. That's more than one in 20 children.

The children abused are overwhelmingly from benefit-dependent households.

Consider the statistics. Say one child is from a household that relies on a benefit before that child is 2. The other is not. The first child is nine times more likely to be maltreated by age 5 than the second.

The first child's chance of being maltreated by age 5 is one in eight. That's incredibly high. It's one in 72 for the second child.

We know this from the news. And from common experience.

Poor little JJ Lawrence's mum and dad were incapable of putting a roof over their own heads or food on their table. His stepdad was of no more use. They were dependent on the Government for a house, for money for food, and for drugs.

They could not look after themselves. They could not look after their babies.

We know in times past that such irresponsible souls wouldn't have had children. Or if they had the children would be offered for adoption.

But in today's civilised society delinquent men and women are free to procreate without the effort required to financially provide for themselves and their children. The taxpayer picks up the tab. The Government supplies the house and money for food, booze and drugs. There is absolutely no test of fitness for parenthood.

In the past there was: people didn't have, and keep, their children unless they could first financially provide for themselves.

Even that most basic level of personal responsibility before parenthood is now gone.

Kiwis who work long hours and look after their children are punitively taxed to provide a house and an income to the likes of Joel Loffley and Josephine Lawrence.

The Loffleys and the Lawrences don't have to work. Freed from the need to work they can spend their days drunk and drugged up. And have babies.

The Government sponsors and supports irresponsible parenthood. And chances are abused kids grow up to be abusive parents. There is a generational cycle and it is getting worse with each generation.

Our overbloated welfare system cuts any requirement for financial security - and the necessary personal responsibility that requires - before parenthood. We all know it. But to state the obvious is to be labelled a beneficiary basher.

Well, if we really cared about the lives of children we would put an end to the sponsoring of irresponsible parenthood. We once thought that welfare was the foundation of a compassionate society. It's not. Our horrible child abuse statistics prove that.

We can't expect government agencies to play mum, dad and protector for the little JJs of the world.

They wouldn't have to if the Government wasn't providing houses and income to the drunk and drugged up.


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- Herald on Sunday

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