Maori children at highest risk of abuse but Asian kids safest

Michael Laws – Sunday Star Times 3 April 2011

A review of convictions by offender ethnicity against children, for the years 2006 to 2009, paints a grim picture. First, offences overall have more than doubled in four years – from 280 in 2006 to 575 in 2009. That may reflect changes in police policy but it also reflects the environment in which the police are operating. But it is the Maori statistics that draw the breath. Over half (54% in 2009) of all convictions for violent offences against children are committed by Maori, 24% by European/Pakeha and 19% by Pacific Islanders. On these statistics, Asian families are significantly under represented. That there is a particular violence problem within the Maori culture is not a new finding and has been commented upon for more than a generation. But these statistics suggest that it is not getting better – it is getting worse and especially for Maori children.

..(A)lmost every family prone to abusing their children is already known by government agencies – Police, justice, health, education, CYF, social welfare and Housing Corp. You could draw up that list right now from such shared information. And then just target them. Virtually none of their children will go on to achieve anything. They will repeat and probably accentuate the environment in which they have been raised. They were born into a particular environment that means leaving them with their “parent/parents/whanau” is an act of state cruelty. Most New Zealand parents, indeed most Maori parents, are fine. Leave them alone. Stop the preaching, stop the public education admonitions, stop the petty attempts to ban parental smacking. Instead let’s concentrate all our efforts where they will make the biggest difference.