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Child abuse

ARTICLE: A short speech at launch of ‘Jade Speaks Up’ DVD by Violence Free Waitakere, Council Chambers, Waitakere, 14/5/14

What is it about our country? It is breathtakingly beautiful and inhabited by, in the main, decent people who are by world standards reasonably well off. But we are among the worst of the OECD countries for child homicide[1].

Countries like Spain, Greece, Italy, Ireland and Norway do not kill their children at nearly the rate we do. What is wrong with us and what is right with them? I do not believe we have a higher proportion of wicked people or even that we are more socially dysfunctional.

Why do so many of us lack a life blueprint that forbids violence to those nearest to us?’ Where are the cultural values and practices that carry a child-rearing ethic strong enough to stay the hand of even the drunkards, drug addicted, mentally unwell and socially isolated among us?’ For it is such embedded traditions of family behaviour that seem to be the difference between us and them.

That is why I set such store by Violence Free Waitakere and its sister organisations throughout the country. They are creating and reinforcing the traditions of family behaviour that we so badly need. For their work they need both patience and impatience and to take a long view. They are the very best of our people and of greater importance than the economists, celebrities, politicians and sportspeople who take up the space in our media.  

[1] UNICEF (2003) A league table of child maltreatment deaths in rich countries. Innocenti report card No. 5. Florence: UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre

Child abuse

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