Here we go again with the claim that it is somehow the fault of Roger Douglas and Ruth Richardson that children die through maltreatment;
Kerre Woodham writes;
He [Mike Doolan] says international experience shows that economic conditions are closely associated with levels of child abuse, and any group that suffers more from social and economic changes are found to be over represented in child abuse and other antisocial statistics.
The effects of the economic reforms of the 1990s can be seen in the higher rate of child killings during that decade. The lower death rate between 2000 and 2005 can be partially attributed to low unemployment levels and much greater prosperity, he says.
The problem with this theory is that journalists conveniently ignore statistics prior to the 90s.
Do the 1990s stand out particularly?
The rate of deaths does not anyway have a hard and fast correlation to the amount of abuse. And trying to measure abuse is even more troublesome. Definitions, awareness of, willingness to report, child justice approaches, have all changed. It would for example appear there was little Maori child abuse pre the 60s (statistically speaking). That is because Pakeha society largely ignored Maori society. Maori ex-nuptial rates of birth (which have a strong association with child abuse) were not even included in general statistics until the 1960s.
Here's another thought. The medical fraternity is progressively more able to save life. How many more children are invalided through maltreatment who would previously have died? The child death figures are very small and consequently very volatile. I would be reluctant to use them to illustrate any theory, as unsatisfactory as I find that.
(2003 was an aberration - according to Family First statistics, deaths have averaged about 7 per year over the past five years. They are not routinely published by the police.)
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