Two detractors put up a response in this week's SST. I will address some of it:
"Kerre Woodham seems to have identified the culprits of our high levels of child abuse - 'dumb, stupid, needy, dysfunctional slappers [who] are failing at being mothers'.
She says they 'have children because they get paid to - and, let's face it, they wouldn't get paid to do anything else'.
Firstly, let's address the accusation that mothers alone are responsible for the potential abuse of their children.
Let's see what Kerre actually said:
But this year - sorry to be a spoil sport - let's turn the spotlight on those mothers who are abject failures. All those mothers who haven't got a clue who their children's sperm donors were. All those mothers who have children because they get paid to - and, let's face it, they wouldn't get paid to do anything else. Those mothers who stay with men who hurt them and their kids because they're so pathetic and useless that any shag - even when it comes with a biff - is better than being alone.
She also blames the hangers-on who hurt the children. Hateful hangers-on who are attracted to low self-esteem women with a steady income and a roof over their heads.
Back to the detractors:
These people, already suffering the effects of poverty and possibly cyclical family violence, need all our help to protect themselves and their families. Throwing abuse at them, calling them slappers, or sluts who 'don't know who their sperm donors are' is just perpetrating the abuse and prejudice they face on a daily basis.
We have no right to judge a woman for falling pregnant, or choosing to keep a child if she wishes to.
The writers imply an obligation on society and then deny any right to judge. I admire (judge) a woman who keeps her child but when she is doing it for the right reasons - not because the child is a source of income. And society has every right to judge when the action results in the requisition of public money, currently in very scant supply and unavailable for other 'needs'.
Secondly, it is incredibly worrying that the myth of women getting pregnant to get more DPB money is being trotted out yet again.
There is absolutely no evidence that this has ever been done. In fact, the amount of money one gets is a pittance, for which the woman has to go through nine months of pregnancy (including time off any work she might have) and undergo labour, all to gain another mouth to feed.
Now the writers are simply being wilfully ignorant. In the US and in Europe the theory that women have children, or more children, to access more money has been tested by comparing states or countries. The link between higher benefits and more children born outside of marriage or partnership is clear.
The money is not a "pittance" when including basic benefit and other allowances. The NZ Herald has repeatedly identified examples of DPB incomes that are too high to compete with paid work.
To fight the scourge of child abuse in our society we need to re-assess our attitude towards women and the poor.
Cutting funding to childcare services and the Women's Refuge has made things worse, particularly with the Rugby World Cup coming up (look up abuse statistics when the All Blacks lose if you don't understand this).
Oh, and cutting the Training Incentive Allowance wasn't particularly helpful; talk about shutting the door behind you. We need to reverse these moves and put support behind our vital social services.
Throwing ever increasing amounts at (sorry for the cliche) ambulances at the bottom of the cliff is never going to stop or stem the problem. And, the TIA was stopped because evidence showed people using it were tending to stay even longer on welfare. But I suppose the concept of career students would also be hotly disputed by this pair.
We need to take concrete steps, not have people like Kerre, from positions of relative comfort, complaining about how horrible poor people are.
This only denigrates these women further and allows a smug sense of self-satisfaction."
The final blows are fully intended to lay a guilt trip on Kerre so burdensome she will never repeat her opinion again.
Some people deserve denigration, their motivations and actions are so lacking in human empathy and devoid of any thought beyond immediate self-gratification. They need to know how other people view them or they will never change. Society, urged by the likes of these writers, is unable to prevent child abuse because it has been ordered to furnish the conditions that create it, through modern day ethical frameworks and social policy.
Indeed, this pair are contributing to the problem through their wishy-washy platitudinous apologism.