Child abuse reports increase

The Press 01/07/2009

Reports of child abuse and findings of emotional abuse and neglect have more than doubled in Christchurch over the past five years. Experts say the numbers will continue to rise as communities become more aware of child abuse. There are also fears that cases of neglect and emotional harm will escalate during the recession.

Child, Youth and Family (CYF) figures show the number of children found to be emotionally abused in Christchurch rose from 128 in 2004 to 421 last year an increase of more than 300 per cent. The numbers suffering neglect more than doubled from 211 in 2004 to 454 last year, while the number of children found to be suffering sexual abuse dropped dramatically from 93 to 37. The number of children being physically abused was at its highest in 2008 at 150 cases, compared with 129 five years ago. CYF southern regional director John Henderson said the rise in notifications was due to an increased awareness of child abuse in the community.

Five years ago, 90 per cent of all notifications to CYF required further action. This dropped to 37 per cent last year. Henderson said many of the cases with “no further action” were in fact referred to community groups or other agencies.