Child, Youth and Family defends child abuse stats

  • 17/02/2016
Child, Youth and Family defends child abuse stats

Child, Youth and Family has defended its approach to child abuse investigations, saying it's taking a more holistic response for the good of the child.

Labour has demanded an explanation from CYF over claims the agency is investigating fewer child abuse cases.

It comes after the Salvation Army's ninth annual State of the Nation report, called Moving Targets, questioned why the number of cases CYF investigated in 2015 dropped from previous years.

The report states that in the year to June 30, 2015, the agency received 150,905 notifications of possible child abuse or neglect.

Of these, it investigated 30 percent, down from 42 percent the previous year.

The Ministry of Social Development has said it strengthened practises by providing a better screening at intake, so fewer cases proceeded to investigations.

Chief social worker Paul Nixon told NZ Newswire that after a 2014 review, CYF changed its approach so children with complex needs were dealt with by a range of suitable agencies.

"What New Zealand has not been good at historically, is looking at the whole child.

"When looking at the profile of an abused child, significant health and education needs could become apparent," he said.

"So the notion that Child, Youth and Family could fix these on its own is conceptually wrong.

"You need the range of agencies working together."

If children needed a CYF social worker, one would be appointed, he said.

Emotional abuse and neglect made up the "lion's share" of CYF work, with numbers slowly decreasing in the past few years.

He welcomed the "healthy, considered debate" brought about by the Salvation Army report, as it shone light on the serious issue of child abuse.

Labour's children spokeswoman Jacinda Ardern earlier called on the agency to explain the drop in investigations.

The Salvation Army report states that for the June 2015 year, CYF reported 3235 individual cases of physical abuse, while over the same period, police reported 4698 separate instances of assault.

Ms Ardern said the difference in CYF and police figures raised questions over whether the Government was understating child abuse rates.

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei said the report raised serious doubts about the government's "much-trumpeted achievements" for children.