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Christine Rankin

‘Another one bites the dust’… Another baby is dead.

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For some reason that I simply cannot fathom we fail as a Nation to understand or respond to this hugely embarrassing and destructive issue. If we are not embarrassed by it, we damned well should be. We are rated by the OECD to be at the top of world statistics for child abuse and murder.

And why in this fantastic little country that many believe is paradise – God’s own.

Quite frankly I think God is horrified in terms of what we allow to be done to our babies, these young souls, the future of our nation, the participants, the contributors, the leaders.

I now fully understand through my work with ‘For The Sake Of Our Children Trust’, something that a growing number of New Zealander’s are slowly coming to understanding to. That the 10-12 child murders that occur annually in New Zealand are the tip of the very ugliest iceberg.

Beneath these babies whose lives have been cut tragically short, (usually after months and years of brutality at the hands of their so called caregivers) is another time bomb.

Thousands of New Zealand children are beaten and sexually abused (often both) every day of the year. I believe that a high proportion of these babies go on to become our criminals, rapists, paedophiles, murderer’s, and why not! They grow up very angry surrounded by daily violence often fuelled by drugs and alcohol.

We are what we see unless a miracle happens.

Needless to say they have no self esteem, no confidence and certainly no ambition, with the exception of course, of joining a gang! – The family substitute.

We have lost sight as a society of the vital effect of the family on any child. It is beyond doubt that children who grow up in a home with a mother and father who love them and who love each other fare best.

A number of people go on to break the cycle of abuse almost always because of the intervention of one or more mentors who through love, support, challenge and discipline help change that life.

Many however instinctively choose life situations that recreate the environment they have grown up in and so the cycle goes on.

There are currently around 70,000 cases of suspected abuse reported to CYF annually. This organisation who arrogantly claims to be doing such a good job is overwhelmed by the workload they face.

However I want to be very clear that it is not CYF’s fault that children are abused. I do not blame this organisation for our disgraceful statistics.

Every parent in this country is responsible for the safety and well being of the children they choose to bring into the world.

It is not the politician’s fault either but they are elected to give leadership to the major issues facing this country and the response to this one is like using a sprinkler on a bushfire.

The anti smacking bill for example is not just unwanted by 85% of New Zealander’s but is a smoke screen. Well intentioned liberals determined to make ordinary citizens into criminals, while we ignore the real issue. How traumatic is an investigation for that child and its family over a smack on the hand.

Yet horrifying child abuse is occurring every day and in my opinion the leadership, is just not there.

If we are serious about addressing the real issues, urgent and tough action is required.

Two OECD reports and one from CYF’s tell us that, drugs and alcohol are the primary cause of dysfunction and abuse.

What real debate have any of us heard on this one?

We must stop being politically correct, lets talk about the situation with Maori. We must talk about it because what we ignore remains the same. There is a problem here, 60% of the abuse statistics are created by 14% of the population. Maori have undergone a renaissance and this can only be positive but how can Maori or any of us ignore this ugliness. There are a group of powerful Maori lead by Paora Maxwell who have met to discuss this challenge and I am grateful for this initiative.

Rapid action is imperative.

As a Nation we have to shake ourselves out of our complacency. We must stand up and say we really have had enough!!! Changing the penalties would be a great and easy message to the monsters that abuse and murder. Our sentencing of child offending is laughable compared with other countries.

The murderers of little Nagatikaura Ngati whose injuries police said we’re the worst they had seen we’re convicted of ‘manslaughter’ and given an 8 year sentence with 4 ½ years non parole. To cap it off, our Children’s Commissioner disagreed with the judge’s decision to allow photos of his battered little body to be made public, because his family had been through enough! This so called mother will be able to produce as many extra children as she wishes and CYF will watch to see if abuse occurs. (Remember the Kahui’s ) Oh please….

People comment to me on a regular basis that there is so much that is wrong but that we can’t change it because nobody listens.

Of course we can!

We don’t yell loudly enough! We are far to laid back waiting until it is too late to make our feelings known.

We must fight for the country we want and this is a big and dangerous issue.

These babies can’t fight for themselves.

We advocate several things to those wanting to know what they can do.

  • Protect the babies in your family no matter what.
  • Become a ‘SIGNIFICANT OTHER” in an abused child’s life. It really can make a huge difference.
  • Express your horror to this situation by:
  1. Phoning talkback
  2. Writing to the Editors of Local and National Newspapers
  3. Writing to the Prime Minister
  4. Writing to you local MP
  5. Joining Protests
  6. And report abuse to the police

New Zealand does have enormous potential but not only must we concentrate on all that is good and support each other in prosperity and happiness.

We must also stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves and make those responsible truly pay.