The Government's latest report card for the public service shows an increase in the number of children and young people being assaulted - a trend that Labour describes as "dreadful".

One of National's 10 targets for the public service was to reduce the number of children being abused by 5 per cent, to approximately 3000 children, before 2017.

An update released this week showed that 3144 children were physically abused in the year to March, compared to 3111 the previous year.

When the target was set three years ago, the rate of physical assaults on young people was increasing and was projected to rise to around 4000 by 2017.


State Services Minister Paula Bennett said this increasing trend had been "successfully flattened", though she admitted more needed to be done to hit the target.

Labour Party children's spokeswoman Jacinda Ardern said Government's targets had served to highlight its failure to tackle child abuse.

"Those are dreadful figures, yet police stats tell us the situation could be even worse than that, with the number of violent assaults on children up 3.5 per cent to a record 5397 offences in 2014."

Ms Ardern said it was now unlikely Government's goal would be reached.

The State Service Commission's notes on the child abuse target said it was "extremely ambitious". Because assaults had been projected to increase dramatically by 2017, the target was effectively a 25 per cent reduction compared to the 2011 benchmark.

It also expected the publicity around reducing physical attacks on young people to raise awareness of child abuse, which would increase reporting by the public.

The latest report card also showed a slight rise in violent crime in the last quarter.

While violent crime had fallen 9.1 per cent compared to the 2011 baseline, it rose 2.3 per cent in the last three months.


Justice Minister Amy Adams said she was keeping a close eye on this trend, which was believed the result of an increase in domestic violence reporting rather than an actual rise in harm.

The minister revealed plans last week for a major overhaul of domestic violence legislation.

Despite attempts by successive governments to address the issue, family violence had remained at stubbornly high levels, defying drops in youth crime and overall crime which were at their lowest levels in 35 years.

On average, one domestic violence incident was reported every six minutes and half of all violence-related charges, including homicides, were family violence.

The newest report card showed government agencies were on track to reach most of the other targets.

Early childhood education rose 0.2 per cent in the last quarter to 96.1 per cent. The target is 98 per cent in 2016.


The goal of a 95 per cent immunisation rate for infants was expected to be met this year. It is currently 92.9 per cent.