Trust slashes violence in at-risk families

The Press 25 May 2009

Early intervention with at-risk Canterbury families is saving children from being beaten by their mothers, a new report shows. The Christchurch-based Family Help Trust runs early-intervention programmes that deal with children at the highest risk of extreme child abuse. Trust chairwoman Annabel Taylor said carefully targeted investment in socially deprived families would generate a substantial payback for society. “There are around 64,000 babies born in New Zealand each year, of which 2 per cent, or approximately 1200, are in families with the greatest levels of dysfunction and therefore the most extreme risk of child abuse.”

In a report officially released today, the trust says its work over two years has helped substantially lower violence rates in at-risk Canterbury families. The trust’s report said of 59 families involved with the trust, nearly 15 per cent of children were initially struck or shaken by their mothers. More than a quarter of the mothers were assaulted by their partners, 13.6 per cent of partners were imprisoned, and over 5 per cent of the mother’s partners assaulted the children. Two years after the trust’s intervention, no mothers were striking or shaking their children, 6.8 per cent of mothers were being assaulted by partners, and 3.6 per cent of mothers said their partners were in prison.