Medics see 500 harmed children

By Anne-Marie Emerson

A Wanganui paediatrician estimates about 500 children go through Wanganui Hospital each year suffering some form of abuse or neglect.

Although there are no statistics, David Montgomery said it was likely that of the 5000 children who come into the emergency department every year, about 10 per cent have abuse or neglect issues.

He said staff at the hospital were honest with parents and other family members when treating children they suspected might have been harmed deliberately.

"We're not in the business of pointing fingers, but we are in the business of making sure a child is in a safe environment," Dr Montgomery said.

"The worst thing that can happen is that we treat a child for a minor injury only to have them come back at a later date with a much more severe injury."

In an interview with the Wanganui Chronicle, Dr Montgomery puts the reasons for family violence down to two issues: poverty and lack of support.

He says New Zealand needs to put a lot more effort into prevention for families struggling with life, be it for economic reasons or mental health, addiction or relationship problems.

He said every parent got stressed, and it was just that much harder for parents who didn't have many resources.

Dr Montgomery is the clinical head of the paediatric ward at Wanganui Hospital. He works at Wanganui Hospital and Middlemore Hospital in Auckland.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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