Friday, 24 August 2007


Collins Comments - 24 August 2007
Column: New Zealand National Party

New Zealanders were sickened when little Nia Glassie – aged 3 – was brutalised and later died in hospital. Many New Zealanders felt that her death was, ironically, a respite from what had clearly been an unmerciful, cruel and short life. Most of us wondered at how anybody could be so evil to a child. Most of us wondered at what has happened to sections of our communities that every 5 weeks, one of our babies is killed, usually by those charged with loving and nurturing them.

It is very easy to put money into welfare and into “programmes”. It’s not so easy to understand the mindset of those who are so lacking in empathy and so devoid of human decency and kindness that they will kill a child. What is even less easy is to stop making excuses for such people, to identify and then prevent the abuse.

We were told by the proponents of the anti-smacking law that this law would stop child abuse. It hasn’t. It won’t. We were told that those of us who have smacked our child on the hand or bottom for being naughty or unruly were, at worst, child abusers and, at the least, condoned “beating our babies”. We weren’t and we aren’t. Now with John Key’s intervention, the Police are required to use common sense in deciding whether or not to prosecute – something that was missing from Sue Bradford’s bill.

We need to understand how someone becomes a child abuser - not to make excuses, but to try to stop babies being killed. There are common markers for child abuse. We know that these incidences primarily occur in what is called “dysfunctional families”. James Whakaruru, Coral- Ellen Burrows, Nia Glassie, Soleil Aplin and Olympia Jetson (to name only a few) lived their short lives in severely dysfunctional homes. The families are normally well known to Child Youth and Family and the Police. They usually consist of loose personal relationships, intergenerational welfare dependency, drug and alcohol addictions, intergenerational child abuse including child sexual abuse, criminality, poor literacy and numeracy, lack of empathy for others, despair, lack of personal responsibility and a reliance on a variety of government departments. Mix all these together, add a child, and we have a recipe for disaster.

In the meantime, a group of parents have organised a march against child abuse this Saturday, 25 August, at 10am in Queen Elizabeth II Square, Queen Street, Auckland. Indications are that the Children’s Commissioner and government agencies won’t attend. Apparently, the organisers are so politically incorrect as to call for harsher sentences for child abusers. Should abusing a child be elevated to a principal factor in sentencing? Of course it should. I’ll attend the march and you might like to be there too.

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