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Sensible Sentencing Trust
On being asked to comment on the Dominion Post article “Cradle to an early grave”, my dilemma is, “where do I begin?” Let me start with the facts, which will reveal exactly why it is that NZ children are so over-represented in abuse and death statistics.
We have a Children's Commissioner, an Office of the Childrens Commissioner (OCC), and we have Child, Youth and Family (CYF). The OCC operate under the Care of Children Act 2004 in which the welfare of the child is the most important priority. This Act shifts the focus away from parents' rights, towards parents' responsibilities towards their children.
On their website it tells us:
“If you have a concern about the way in which a child is being treated, you can contact the Office of the Children's Commissioner (OCC). The Commissioner's office has special responsibilities to investigate child abuse and neglect, youth offending and the actions of Department of Child Youth and Family Services.”
Sounds good so far – and when any concerned person writes to the OCC about an issue, they are likely to be told: “It is people like you that Dr Kiro applauds. Rather than sitting back and not doing anything, you have taken action. Many don't”.
Unfortunately it all goes downhill from there.
The OCC then advise you:
“If you suspect a child or young person is being abused, tell Child, Youth and Family, or the Police.”
Now for some obscure reason, CYF do not operate under the same Act as the OCC. They have their own Act, the 1989 CYPF Act .
Within the Summary of 1989 CYPF Act (Up to Section 14) under PART II, Definition of child in need of Care and Protection, it tells us that:
14. A child is in need of care and protection if -
(a) The child is being , or is likely to be, harmed (whether physically, emotionally or sexually), ill-treated, abused, or seriously deprived; or
(b) The child's development or physical or mental or emotional wellbeing is being, or is likely to be, impaired or neglected, and that impairment or neglect is, or is likely to be, serious and avoidable;
So in 1989 when that Act came into effect, the criteria included “if the child is being, or is likely to be harmed”. Apparently it has now changed, because I have it in writing from Peter Hughes, CEO of CYF (NZ's highest paid civil servant on $500,000 a year), that
“CYF works towards reducing the recurrence of abuse and neglect when children and young people have been harmed”.
So these days the children have to already have been harmed before CYF will step in.
Peter Hughes also tells me that:
“Re OCC and CYF: While both agencies work together, they have differing roles.
The Office of the Children's Commissioner has an important function in monitoring and assessing the policies and practice of CYF, but cannot direct CYF in its work.”
(I've been told by three different CYF Managers that 'OCC is not the boss of them”;
* that parents have the right to raise their children in the manner of their choosing unless they cross a line of unacceptability (CYF obviously places that line too high !!!), and
* grandparents have no rights in matters concerning the child.
If a Grandparent makes a Notification about their concern for their grandchild's welfare due to - let's say – drug use by the parent, CYF will visit the parent, who will assure them that everything is just fine, and CYF will go away satisfied. They will not return until after the child has been harmed.
So what exactly is the role of the Children's Commissioner? Apparently, to criticise CYF after the damage has been done to children.
In the 1930s, New Zealand made history by being the first nation to establish a comprehensive welfare system. The aim was to provide people with security ‘from the cradle to the grave’ through assistance for the sick, the unemployed and for families.
After reading the “Cradle to an early grave” article it would appear that in these modern times it now makes economic sense to ensure that journey is completed in as short a time as possible.
What other conclusion could we reach?
Perhaps in order to maintain his $500,000 a year, the CEO is directed to reach a target of so many dead children. Looking at it that way, he's doing a wonderful job, and his job (and salary) is secure for another year.
Pity about the kids.
Sensible Sentencing Spokesperson on Drug Issues,
mobile 027 6376166
Christine Davey has first hand experience of P use in her family, and also supports many other NZ parents in her role as Administrator on the Fight Against P website www.fightagainstp.com
Through the Sensible Sentencing Trust Christine is campaigning for intervention in drug use at family request and removal of children from the care of known drug-users.
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