Charity horrified by three major child abuse allegations in first 10 days of 2022

  • 11/01/2022

A child abuse charity says it's clear New Zealand is making no progress on protecting young people after a horror start to the new year.

Police investigations have been launched into three very serious alleged child abuse cases inside the first 10 days of 2022.

The first saw a three-month-old from Christchurch die last week following a suspected homicide, while a toddler from Gisborne also died on Monday having sustained critical injuries. On New Year's Eve, a three-month-old was admitted to Gisborne Hospital in a critical condition.

Child abuse charitable trust Child Matters is calling for significant improvements to frontline community support, resourcing and training, saying the issues the country has won't go away until something changes.

"Between January and November last year nine children were killed allegedly at the hands of a caregiver or family - or one child every five weeks - and unfortunately these appalling figures are already worsening just two weeks into the start of the year," CEO Jane Searle said.

"To add to that, these figures don't include the thousands of children who are suffering abuse at the hands of a caregiver or family member every single day in New Zealand."

Searle says part of the solution lies in recognising we all have a part to play ourselves - whether that's knowing what to do if we have concerns about the welfare of a child, being vigilant about child safety, speaking up, or holding politicians and community leaders to account.

"The sad truth is that New Zealand is not a big country, yet we are unable to effectively protect our most vulnerable tamariki," she says.

Searle says while there have been plenty of conversation and reviews about what to do about the issue of child abuse, no real change has yet been implemented - and children are still dying.

"We will keep losing and causing irreparable harm to children unless an actual change is made at the front line where support needs to be implemented - instead of a lot of talk in Wellington," she says.

"While some of the solutions take time to implement, such as increasing community capability to support families so intervention happens earlier, there are some things that can be implemented easily such as mandatory child protection training for professionals that work with children and young people."