Over the next few days the Herald will be running a series of articles on child abuse and highlighting charities working to end it. See the bottom of this page for today's charity.
Justice Minister Simon Power told the Herald he planned to introduce an amendment to the Sentencing Act, which would see tougher penalties for people who have offended against children.
The Herald understands Mr Power hopes to table that amendment this week - possibly on Friday - and have it passed under urgency so it can become law before Christmas.
The legislation is one of several plans Mr Power has in mind for child abusers. He is also looking at a review of the sentences given for crimes against children compared to similar offences against adults, and a review of the controversial right to silence.
At the moment there is a provision in the Sentencing Act which requires judges to take into account the age and/or vulnerability of the victim as an aggravating factor. However, Mr Power said that did not go far enough.
"We specifically think reference should be made to a child and that [could be] a high-principled signal that we take [child abuse] seriously.
He said there were currently abnormalities which meant sentences for different crimes were not always commensurable.
He cited the example of the two-year term of imprisonment which is the maximum penalty for assault against a child compared with a three-year sentence for people who mistreat animals.
"There are some significant realignments needed in the area against children and I'm asking for quite a substantial piece of work to be done to make sure those offences align properly."
Sensible Sentencing Trust chairman Garth McVicar said the Government's tough stance was a step in the right direction. It showed a changing attitude that was taking place in the country whereby child abuse was no longer acceptable.
Mr McVicar also welcomed news of a review into realigning sentences saying there was evidence from victims that sentences for crimes against children were not as lengthy as they were for similar crimes against adults: "From the information we have available to us, they are way out of kilter."
However, Otago University Law Professor Geoff Hall, who specialises in sentencing and criminal law, said
Section 9 (1G) of the Sentencing Act already dictated that judges must take into account the age or vulnerability of the victim - which covers children in no uncertain terms - as an aggravating feature.
"It's already there. It sounds to me like it's window dressing, what is being proposed, unless he's suggesting that priority be given to one factor over another," Mr Hall said.
Mr Hall said comparing sentences for assault against a child and mistreatment of an animal was also difficult as there were other charges available to police for child abuse which carried tougher sentences.
The charge laid would depend on the seriousness of the injury and whether there was any intent involved.