The case of a girl who became pregnant at 11 and had her baby when she was 12 was cited by Children's Commissioner Cindy Kiro today when she made a plea for people to speak up against child abuse.
Dr Kiro said her office was being thwarted by a "wall of silence" protecting people who abuse and kill children.
Today was World Child Abuse Prevention Day, and Dr Kiro said New Zealanders needed to speak up if they witnessed abuse against children and young people, and hold others accountable if they knew they were abusers.
Talking about the girl who gave birth at 12, Dr Kiro said no one in the girl's family would come forward and shed any light on who was responsible.
"What we've done obviously is keep contact with that young girl and keep contact with Child Youth and Family and basically are pursuing that as a case to see what's going on with her," said Dr Kiro.
"But, so far, she's not naming, nobody in the family is stepping up, nobody around her seems to know anything and nobody has been held to account for the fact that an 11-year-old girl is pregnant".
A spokeswoman for Dr Kiro's office said she could not give any more details of the case "obviously because there is a real person involved".
Dr Kiro said while children and young people should tell a trusted adult if they were victims of or witnessed abuse, it was ultimately adults who had to take responsibility.
"New Zealand is at a tipping point where communities are making it clear they will not tolerate child abuse and every adult needs to take responsibility for the physical, emotional and sexual abuse and abuse through neglect of our children," Dr Kiro said.
"We should focus on prevention and intervene when we see child abuse happening. Take action and tell someone. Call the police or Child, Youth and Family Services."
She called on people not to ignore what might be happening in their homes and communities.
"While home should be a haven, for many children around the world it is a lethal place," Dr Kiro said.
"Children suffer violence in their homes, from homicide to life threatening neglect or physical assault; humiliation to sexual violation. Commonly, this abuse is at the hands of family members who should be protecting the children.
"One of the most disturbing aspects of this survey is the finding that the perpetrators are mainly people in positions of trust with the children, including family members and so-called `uncles'."
Dr Kiro said New Zealanders had to change their attitudes and behaviour to become more child-focused.
"Children rely on adults to keep them safe and healthy."