Sunday, September 14, 2008

Child death claims don't stack up

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.)


mojo said...

A bit of deja vu here Lindsay ... I also have the feeling that burglaries and rapes increased in the same period. Probably something to do with, 'define the situation and you define the person's behaviour.' I am sure Cactus Kate knows a bit about this.
Additionally, I'm pretty sure you'll find a pretty rapid increase in benefit fraud in the same period ... this period of ideologically driven social engineering, under the guise of economic necessity, was an unmitigated failure from which we still suffer the 'collateral damage.'

Anonymous said...

I don't understand your last comment, Mojo. Are you excusing crime/s because of benefit reduction? (I'm loathe to use the term "poverty" in a high-welfare state like NZ).

If so, what an insult to NZ'ers who lived through the Great Depression, and the legions of current low-income earners who wouldn't dream of committing crimes and/or neglecting their children.

Or have I misunderstood your comment?

Anonymous said...

Look at the recent stats for violent crime, murder, child abuse, etc,

they've all been on an upward trend for the last 9 years

now compare Lindsay's graph - or any graph - of crimes with the governing party - and the correlation is clear:

Labour kills kids

Basically Labour governments go soft on crims, help people stay on benefits so they do more crime to pass the time.

National (and especially National/ACT governments) care about people, reduce benefits so people have to work for a living and beef up the police and prisons so that criminals do not walk the streets.

As John Key said - when RadioSocialism asked him "What can you offer the people of South Auckland" he replied "Safe Streets"

Labour kills kids