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Although New Zealand once had a very powerful voice in addressing
child abuse, over the last 20 years or so the focus in reducing acts of
violence has favoured women more and more over other groups. Like the
elderly and the disabled, children's pain is no longer at the forefront
of New Zealand's violence reduction programmes. Many of the programmes
addressing violence reduction in recent years purport to address abuse
against all people, but in reality focus heavily upon reducing men's
violence towards women, or women as victims. Women make up the majority
of domestic carers however, and are more likely to be the offender
rather than the victim of much of the domestic abuse perpetrated on the
Female perpetrators are not generally addressed in terms of offender and
abuse reduction programmes, and the abuse to victims is often
because of a fear of falling foul of the female (or feminist) vote.
Child abuse in New Zealand is defined under section 2 of the
Children, Young Persons, and Their Families Act 1989 and is the harming
a child by physically, emotionally or sexually ill treating them through
abuse or neglect. This mirrors the Domestic Violence Act principles,
however the DVA goes further to make it an abuse of a child if the child
is exposed to violence. Prevention of such abuse in New Zealand is
said to be a high priority by the New Zealand government as well as
relevant non governmental organisations due to the prevalence of child
cases occurring in New Zealand, particularly when compared with other
developed countries. This response is consistent with New Zealand’s
obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the
Child at article 34 – 35 which deals specifically with Child Abuse.
there is no evidence that New Zealand values it's children enough to
hear their voices.
Child abuse isn’t just physical violence. It may be facing constant
criticism, being degraded, or feeling fearful at home. It could be
failing to receive medical care, being left alone unsupervised, or
receiving excessive discipline. It might also be inappropriate touching,
or adults initiating sexual conversations with children. Most child
abuse occurs within the family environment but it can happen anywhere -
at school, in the larger community, or online. The signs of child abuse
are not always obvious, and abuse frequently goes undetected and
Education is key to identifying child abuse. Abuse against children is not diminishing - but the reporting of it is.