I'm told patience is a virtue. Recently, however, I've decided there are exceptions. I don't need to tell you about our appalling child abuse statistics.
We all know how bad they are; we even know some of the faces behind them. What we hear less about is what we can do about them, other than feel continual disgust and anger.
We are all impatient for answers.
The Government's response has been to put out a Green Paper on Vulnerable Children.
Labour was a little cynical at the time this discussion document was announced. We thought it was time for action rather than more chat, but I have since changed my mind.
I am glad we're having the debate, but are we debating the right things? Are we debating the root causes - the hard stuff - or just the things we think can be fixed by politicians, things such as changing the law or introducing a nifty memorandum of understanding?
Sadly, it appears we're not.
The Green Paper acknowledges that we have limited resources, and we do, but this issue is a classic case of investing now for longer-term savings.
The Children's Commissioner estimates that the cost to society of a vulnerable child over the course of their life is $1 million. Rather than focusing as heavily as the Green Paper does on identifying vulnerable children and better targeting services, we would all be better off if we prevented these kids from becoming vulnerable in the first place.
Why wait for the abuse? Evidence tells us what the indicators are; it's a matter of putting them to use.
What would it look like if we finally put our impatience into practice and started doing things differently?
Almost all children, regardless of their parents, will at least begin their life in some form of maternal care. So let's start there, before the child is even born. If the mother has had contact with the justice system, or has any history of drug or alcohol abuse, we know straight away that she and her child are likely to be vulnerable in some way, and we act.
We bring in the kinds of services that every mum used to have, services like regular visits from Plunket or other Well Child providers. They're well trained to offer the support and advice needed and to make sure that the mum, who probably didn't get the best start in life herself, has a fighting chance of giving her child a better one.
For this same reason, every parent should have access to ongoing parenting advice and courses for as long as they need it.
There will be those parents who have already proven time and again that they should not have the privilege and responsibility of raising another child. They are not the norm, but for them our response should be swift and simple - they don't get to gamble with another child's life.
I don't care if this is seen as too interventionist. I'd rather that than more of the "waiting and seeing".
But there is still another elephant in the room. An astounding 20 per cent of children in New Zealand are growing up without the basics. What many people don't realise, and what the Green Paper only brushes over, is that a good portion of those are living in families where at least one parent is in full-time work but not earning enough to get by.
I'm not saying that all children living in cash-strapped households are abused - of course not - but as a wise researcher once concluded, "Poverty is the cause of the causes".
Our collective impatience means we must look at the hard stuff. I know that many Green Paper submissions will ask the minister to do this. I can only hope that her response isn't the same as the one I received in Parliament a few weeks ago when I asked about poverty - that there was another "ministerial committee" to deal with those issues.
I am pleased the minister has given us the opportunity to put these issues on the table, and now that they're there I absolutely agree with the call she made in a column in the Herald this week for a cross-party approach to developing truly sustainable solutions. That's why Labour wrote to Ms Bennett last month to reiterate the party's offer for a third time to work with her and other parties on child welfare. That offer was again declined.
Still, regardless of where any of us are coming from on this debate there is one thing we all possess and share; impatience. Let's finally put it to use.
* Jacinda Ardern is a Labour MP and their spokeswoman on Social Development.
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