What we are seeing at the moment is not new. 'Battered Child (or baby) Syndrome' was first discussed in the 1960s. From Family Matters by Bronwyn Dalley;
New Zealand medical practitioners and paediatric radiologists took a central role in the dissemination of awareness of the syndrome; staff at Wellington Hospital noted the large number of 'injury' cases with a suspicion that was often confirmed when X-rays revealed earlier healed fractures.
Many cases of abuse investigated "displayed an intergenerational pattern." So the abuse stems back further still. The distressing number of young Maori children who died at the hands of their young mothers who had themselves been state wards is commented on.
For a long time associated factors have been known. Unmarried parenting, very young parenting, and a personal parental history of neglect and abuse. Add to these increased misuse of alcohol and drugs and benefits that pay emotionally and financially bereft people to become parents and it is little wonder what problem already existed has worsened.
I have little time for calls for a review into causes or even more state money going into groups working with at-risk families (who were grown on the back of state money anyway). The families you can get into aren't the worst. They have asked for and admitted you. As a volunteer I don't get paid for what I do and wouldn't do more if I was paid.
All the hand-wringing and knee-jerking going on over the past few days, on TV and radio, is rather wearing me out and I have no more to add except the thoughts of Lewis Anderson who was Superintendent of child Welfare forty, yes FORTY, years ago;
Anderson took the brutally realistic view that no matter what staff did or how extensive their supervision or services were, children would still suffer or be killed at the hands of their parents or caregivers. He repeatedly pointed out that child welfare officers were 'not clairvoyant', that is was inevitable that children would be killed by their parents, and that there were abused children about whom the Division had no knowledge until it was too late.
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