Reported assaults on kids nearly double

Rotorua Daily Post 28 February 2008

Reported assaults on children in Rotorua have nearly doubled in the last two years. Police say it’s because of greater awareness about family violence. Figures supplied to the Daily Post by Rotorua police show there were 26 arrests in 2006 for assault on a child. That jumped to 45 last year and already this year there have been 29. The figures come as a new survey shows almost half of parents with children under 12 have smacked them in the past year, despite a new anti-smacking law coming into effect in June last year. The survey, commissioned by Family First, has prompted the lobby group to call for the new law to be dumped.

..No one in Rotorua has been arrested for smacking their children but Rotorua Detective Sergeant George Staunton, who leads the Rotorua police Child Abuse Team, says the new law is another tool to emphasise that violence against children is not okay. Mr Staunton said people were only arrested if the smacking was excessive and the police had the power to use their discretion. He said there had been a noticeable rise in Rotorua in the number of people reporting abuse against children. “It goes hand in hand with family violence and how topical it is now to say no to family violence … It’s not tolerated and people are ringing us more.” He said no matter how small the complaint was, people should still ring the police. “It might add to something else that we have got. We also talk to Child, Youth and Family. Our only focus is to make sure the children are safe.”