Lower Hutt Child Abuse Unit head Detective Sergeant Tusha Penny says that solo mothers need to exercise extreme caution after a Wellington man was convicted on five counts of child abuse against his former girlfriend’s son.
She said on TV One News (Saturday 26 August) “Our message to women would be, be very vigilant about who you let in your life and particularly into your home and into the lives of your children.”
“This is honest and factual information from someone with first hand experience of seeing the risk factors associated with child abuse,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of the Family First Lobby, who was a youthworker in South Auckland for 15 years, and is Chair of a trust he founded for at-risk youth.
The CYFS report released at the end of last month highlighted statistics showing that children living in households with an adult unrelated to them were almost 50 times as likely to die of an inflicted injury as those living with two biological parents.
According to a study published in 2005 in the journal Pediatrics, researchers from the University of Chicago and the University of Missouri found that young children who live with their mothers’ boyfriends or other unrelated adults are 48 times more likely to die from child abuse than those living with two biological parents,
And Canadian Researchers found that Preschool children in stepfamilies are 40x more likely as children in intact families to suffer physical or sexual abuse. They said that stepfathers are far more likely to assault nonbiological children than their own natural children.
“This does not mean that all children in step families are at risk of abuse,” says Mr McCoskrie. “However, the safest environment for a child to be raised is with their 2 biological parents. The CYFS report identified family breakdown as a key contributor to child abuse.”
“Of course, this has nothing to do with s59 – blamed for allowing child abuse,” says Mr McCoskrie. “However, it does raise the question of what are we are doing as a country in terms of government policy and community resources to encourage commitment from parents to be there for their children.”
We must do more to encourage and strengthen marriage – the safest environment for a child to live.