Thursday, March 04, 2010

Welfare reform reduces child abuse

Media Release

WELFARE REFORM REDUCES CHILD ABUSE

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Debate has flared on the back of calls for sterilisation of the worst child abusers. When a problem is extreme, as is the incidence of child abuse in New Zealand, people sometimes understandably react with extreme ideas, welfare commentator Lindsay Mitchell said today.

"However, there is now clear evidence from the US that a massive reduction in welfare dependence has coincided with a significant drop in child abuse. This is because children in two-parent working homes are the least likely to suffer neglect or abuse."

"Beginning in the 1970s, each decade the US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has reported to Congress on the incidence of child abuse and neglect. Early this year their 4th report was published. It found a 32 percent decrease in the rate of abuse per 1,000 children since 1993."

"Here in New Zealand there is a clear overlap between clients of Work and Income and clients of CYF. In 1996 a study showed that children whose caregivers were beneficiaries were 4 times more likely to be subject to a CYF care and protection notification."

"Unfortunately some people - certainly not all people who find themselves on welfare - regard children as meal tickets. They are seen as both a way to increase income and avoid work. Such poorly motivated parents are the most likely to neglect or abuse their children. Abuse is also associated with very young mothers who are not emotionally equipped for the stress of parenting and also have multiple partners who may abuse them or their children. These potentially dangerous partners are additionally attracted by the steady benefit income."

"Until we start to acknowledge the role of welfare dependence in the incidence of child abuse we cannot begin to tackle the problem. The US faced up to the family dysfunctionality created by welfare, by introducing time limits and family caps. They removed the incentives that encouraged people to have children they were ill-prepared to care for. By requiring families to work wherever possible they restored structure, routine, motivation and purpose."

"There is good news here for New Zealand's social policy makers. We can lower the rate of child abuse by introducing common-sense welfare reforms. There is no need for extremism."

6 comments:

bez said...

Now if only someone had the balls to confront the issue, and do some serious quantitative research into these matters to validate the various claims you make. The questions are not methodologically difficult at all, and one would assume that the government has all the relevant data to quickly and succinctly undertake that evaluation.
The mere fact that this does not take place, and that indeed the relevant data is not made available, is telling by itself.
I am wondering whether we could describe the relevant hypotheses and methodology, and obtain the data under the OIA. I'd be happy to assist in formulating this.
After all this is something that can be determined with a REAL scientific approach, and that is how it ought to be done.

Anonymous said...

The qual research (all that is needed) has already been done.

The only way to end welfare dependency is to end welfare. Once there's no welfare, they just aren't any welfare moms to abuse their kids on my taxes

Manolo said...

Heard you on the radio today with Larry Williams and agreed with your opinions on the voluntary sterilisation issue.

Why our useless politicians are unable to see the light, the correlation between welfare reform and child abuse?

More importantly, why is National following the same failed Labour policies? Both parties are sides of the same coin.

Biorealist said...

"Once there's no welfare, they just aren't any welfare moms to abuse their kids on my taxes"

This is unfair on the children born to mothers with low future time orientation. This is why I would suggest women currently receiving the DPB receive a 3 monthly birth control shot as a condition of continuing welfare payments.

Another suggesting would be not to offer benefits in the form of cash, but food, clothing and accomodation paid for.

Lindsay said...

Biorealist, I have for some time advocated the long-acting contraceptive, depo provera, (especially where mothers are known drug users eg on the methadone programme) as a condition of welfare receipt. And assistance in kind is the way Australia is going currently. Accommodation is already paid in a way that prevents misuse of cash.

But I am intrigued by this phrase;

"...mothers with low future time orientation."

Do you mean mothers who don't give a hoot about the future? Tomorrow- never-comes syndrome? That happens because they know there will always be a weekly deposit in their bank amount from WINZ regardless of how they behave.

Thanks for a constructive comment. The anons that want welfare ended overnight are wasting their energy.

Biorealist said...

**Do you mean mothers who don't give a hoot about the future? Tomorrow- never-comes syndrome? That happens because they know there will always be a weekly deposit in their bank amount from WINZ regardless of how they behave.**

Hi Lindsay,

Yes, that is essentially what I mean by that. Certainly, some incentives can foster it. Also, I think that it varies between individuals. Economist Bryan Caplan has an interesting post here about conscientiousness and a documentary about a homeless guy who gets $100,000.

http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2006/08/the_power_of_pe.html