Babies make up half of abuse cases

NZ Herald 26 July 2012 
Babies yet to see their first birthdays have accounted for half of all hospital-recorded suspected abuse cases involving young children. New Ministry of Health figures for the past year confirm New Zealand’s comparative rate of abuse of infants remains high. The record was again highlighted this week among coronial findings into the 2006 deaths of infant twins Chris and Cru Kahui. The data, obtained by the Herald under the Official Information Act, reveals 71 cases where children younger than 4 years old were tagged with assault codes. Thirty-one cases were classified as Maori, 29 European and nine Pacific Islanders, while 36 cases involved babies younger than a year old. Two children with assault codes – one less than a year old – spent time in intensive-care units, although their reason for admission may have been unrelated to assault. The figures were described as an only partial count for 2011/12 and did not include records of “short stays” in emergency departments. Between 2006 and 2010, nearly 300 babies less than a year old were tagged with the codes at hospitals, while a 2010 report found New Zealand’s rate of death from maltreatment of children was the fifth highest out of 26 OECD countries, with the largest proportion occurring in infants less than a year old.