Friday, August 21, 2009

Who is murdering the children?

The initial excuse for Bradford, Clark and Key’s anti-smacking legislation was the number of children killed or seriously abused.

It has now been acknowledged that this law will not reduce the number of children killed or seriously abused.

One would hope that the Ministry of Social Development would do some genuine research into the real causes of child abuse. I do not think it would be too much to expect them to have an open mind and identify honestly the environment where children are most at risk regardless who they offend.

I do not believe that this has been the case.

All international research shows that one of the most dangerous places for a child is with his or her mothers living with a man other than the child’s biological father and the safest place is with his or her biological parents married to each other.

The Sunday Star-Times published an article where the author was trying to make excuses for some mothers who murdered their children and then topped themselves. In the article, “Love and Death”, it claimed that. of the 91 children in New Zealand died at the hands of 101 perpetrators between 1991 and 2000 30% of the killers were fathers. The source of this figure is the government’s chief social worker, Marie Connolly.

After many phone calls and emails to Wellington I find that figure came from a study by Mike Doolan, former Chief Social Worker at CYF. The study, “Child death from maltreatment”, Doolan (2004) found that fathers (including stepfathers) were perpetrators in 54% of the deaths where a parent was the perpetrator. In other words the 30% figure supplied by CYS combined fathers and step-fathers. I am not sure how he defines step-father. Aside from finding this offensive as a father I am angry that in a

study meant to identify at risk environments for children and they did not bother to separate fathers and step-fathers as the child killers.

One can only speculate why this was done. If the ratio between fathers and mother’s boyfriends was similar to overseas who kill children not too many biological fathers would kill their children. This would show that children are far more likely to be killed by a divorced mother or her partner than biological father.

All this is seems to be getting a little off the topic of section 59. I will try to draw the connection. We have a government department charged with proposing policy that with protect children. They are also charged with helping enforce the new anti-smacking law.

The main architect of this draconian piece of legislation now admits that purpose of the law was not to prevent serious child abuse including child homicide. The opponents of this law are very concerned about child abuse. We also know the contributing factors through international research and just reading the newspapers. The usual perpetrator is the mother’s partner or boyfriend.

Indemnifying the problem is easier than finding the solution. However it is an important first step.

If Child, Youth and Family are serious about identifying children at risk regardless of who they might offend they would have separated fathers from step-fathers.

I have contacted the government’s chief social worker, Marie Connolly to get her to confirm or deny whether her claim that 30% of children murdered are killed by their biological fathers. I have not had the courtesy of an acknowledgment let alone an answer.

I will contact her again and if I still do not get an answer I will contact the Minster, Paula Bennett.

I will tell it is appalling that we have a government prepared to criminalise good parents but is not prepared to do honest research to find out who is killing and abusing the children of this country.

Why should parents be punished when in the majority of cases it is not parents murdering these children?

I think it is important that those of us opposed to this law show that we are very concerned at the high rate of serious child abuse.

Many of us know the major cause of child abuse is children raised in a house with their mother's boyfriend. This dishonest "research" appears to be covering up this fact.


Anonymous said...


you really are a complete nitwit? It appals me too that on the night that a majority of half of all New Zealanders voted resoundingly in favour of being allowed to hit children, the news carried a story about another child who's died at the hands of their parent. Once again. What's that? 3 little children killed by their parents in the last fortnight? And we're arguing in this country for the right to smack? Fuck off.

Andy Moore said...

a lot of good the law did those poor little ones.