Police are considering paying for child abuse tip-offs. They say too many people aware that a child is being abused or neglected do not report it. Some people have so lost their moral compass, they say, that only a cash reward would prompt action.
There are so many fish hooks here.
If a witness is more motivated by money than their concern for a child, what kind of person is being prompted? Malicious reports are already a problem. (NZ doesn't keep data but some countries do. No reason we would be any different).
In any case, the problem of not reporting is complex. It isn't necessarily indifference or collusion.
Any person with a modicum of intelligence will consider the repercussions of a report.
1/ For the victim, removing a child from its home and mother is a very, very serious step to take. Where does the child go? The outcomes from foster care and state care are not good. These children can end up physically safer but emotionally, irrevocably damaged. Prisons are full of the product of state care.
2/ If the risk to the child staying is so great that all of the above looks better, then what kind of parent(s) are you dealing with?
3/ What retaliation will be visited upon you and more importantly, your children?
4/ Are you on balance better to provide a safe haven for the child without involving the authorities?
People who live in environments most likely to harbour child abuse and neglect do not typically trust CYF or the Police. And increasingly I can understand why.
Police act as if a report of child abuse is akin to waving a magic wand over the head of a child. It isn't. It merely begins a chain of events that have the potential to cause even greater harm to the child.
It may save their life, though murdered children are often already known to CYF.
The success of cash as an incentive is evidence-based. It's no coincidence that most abused children are born onto a benefit.
So if there is more going begging, use it to incentivize vasectomies, sterilizations and long-acting contraception. Because some people will take it. And they are the people who have little interest in being a parent - let alone a decent parent.
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