August 23, 2009
Whatever proposals the Cabinet considers this week, they must focus on the need for real action on New Zealand’s shameful levels of serious child abuse.
“It is time to stop squabbling about the right to smack children and get down to serious action to stop child abuse,” says the Yes Vote coalition spokesperson Deborah Morris-Travers.
“On this, there is no disagreement between Yes and No voters.
“We have the world’s worst child death by maltreatment rate, and the consequences of child maltreatment and are costing all New Zealanders $2 billion a year in social welfare, legal, prison system and other costs, let alone the community and social costs.”
That cost is the conclusion of an Infometrics report prepared for Every Child Counts, which counts many Yes vote supporter organisations among its members.
“The Prime Minister is to be applauded for sticking by the law as it stands, and for seeking non-legislative responses which can give people comfort on the issues that clearly concern many.
“We hope that the Government will now seize an opportunity to take serious action on the real problem that distresses us all: the huge cost to individuals, society, and the economy of child abuse.”
“Since before its passage in 2007, member organisations of the Yes Vote coalition have advocated active communication with the public about what the law means and how it is intended to operate to contribute to lowering child abuse rates in New Zealand.
“If such action is part of the Government response, we will support that wholeheartedly. Such an approach would hasten the change in social attitudes to physical punishment which is already occurring, and which is a fundamental part of stopping child abuse.