Tuesday, February 21, 2012

How welfare harms children

How welfare harms children is the title of my guest column over at the NZCPR. As Muriel Newman writes it will form the basis of my submission on the Green Paper into child abuse abuse and neglect. The submission process closes on February 28 so if you want to make one and you feel mine reflects your own views feel free to plagiarise. At least that will tell officials that Muriel and I are not alone in believing long-term and inter-generational benefit reliance  damages families and their children.

How welfare harms children 
The matter of children and the benefit system has long concerned me.
It began with the death of Wairarapa toddler Lillybing (Hinewaoriki Karaitiana-Matiaha) in 2000. Had she survived childhood she would have become a teenager in August last year. These missed milestones do not pass unnoticed because my own daughter was born the same month and year as Lillybing. At the time, as the disturbing details of the case became known, the vulnerability of a 23 month-old was very apparent to me. It turned out Lillybing’s caregiver was not only receiving her own benefit, but defrauding Work and Income of a second. That prompted me to begin thinking about the relationship between benefit dependence and child neglect and abuse.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for permission to use your work for submissions on the Green paper - much appreciated.

thor42 said...

Excellent submission, Lindsay!

I think there is a lot of truth in the saying that "poverty breeds poverty". In other words, children brought up in poor circumstances are likely to continue the cycle because they know no better.
(Not all of them, but many of them.)

I believe that the government should remove ALL financial incentives for people to breed. Removing all benefit eligibility from under-20s would be a good start. Throwing more money at beneficiaries is the LAST thing that they need. That will just make things worse.

For all their faults, I don't think beneficiaries are completely stupid. If you remove all financial incentives, making it impossibly expensive to have a baby while on a benefit, I think you'd see a change in behaviour very quickly.

Anonymous said...

Lindsay and co.
Welfare did not harm my children.It fed them,transported them to school,helped to house them and keep them warm and clean and so forth.If it was not for welfare I would have had to put them into care like many people did in the the previous generations.
I never considered our lives to be poverty for the few years that we received a benefit.We were hard up but we were fed and warmish.Enough of your generalizations please.

Lindsay Mitchell said...

Anon, Why not read the column. I acknowledge at the outset that the vast majority of children who spend some time on welfare grow up to be functioning and well-adjusted adults.

Your insistence that welfare is a good thing period however is blinkered.

Anonymous said...

Hi Lindsay
Where did I say welfare is a good thing period?I just find your generalizations about people and their dependants who are or have been on welfare pathetic and unhelpful.
As for 'poverty breeding poverty'another generalization.Your comments could condemn someone to actually believe that this is always the case.It is negative,unhelpful and counter productive to people being in charge of their own outcomes.