Thursday, June 04, 2009

Significant risk factor for child abuse omitted

Media Release


Thursday, June 4, 2009

A report released today by the Children's Commissioner lists factors associated with fatal assault and serious injury of New Zealand children. The report is fairly comprehensive, welfare commentator Lindsay Mitchell said, but disappointingly fails to mention welfare dependence as a significant risk factor for the abuse and neglect of children.

"The overlap between Work and Income clients and CYF clients is documented. New Zealand research has revealed that care and protection notifications were 4 times more likely where children are living in a family relying on the DPB . US research showed that families receiving benefits accounted for 15 percent of Illinois children but 60 percent of cases referred to their child protection services."

"It seems to me that while identifying a factor like young maternal age as important, ignoring that most 16 and 17 year-old mothers (with children in their care) are welfare dependent is an omission. There can be no doubt that the availability of welfare benefits to very young people is a factor in their decision to have babies. Yet the report identifies their children as 8 times more likely to suffer serious assault."

"Other factors identified include exposure to non-biological parents and the abuse of alcohol and drugs. Both of these are exacerbated by welfare lifestyles whereby there is no necessity to commit to a partner or hold down a job."

"If welfare dependence is ignored there is no ensuing imperative to take any action in that arena. Unsurprisingly the report's recommendations revolve only around greater intervention after at-risk children are born. "

Data; At the end of March 2009 there were 683 female 16 and 17 year-old parents in receipt of the Emergency Maintenance Allowance.


mojo said...

Aha ... & no mention of fluoxetine.

Shane Pleasance said...

Why would they make that omission, Lindsay?
Either they don't know it or don't want to say it?

Lindsay Mitchell said...

Shane, References were made to poverty, instability and unemployment but not one to welfare dependence. Poverty is not necessarily welfare dependence and unemployment refers to fathers - not mother's on carer's benefits.

At least one of the authors is pro welfare and has argued (on other occasions) for higher benefits. Most academics, in my experience, still believe welfare is the solution rather than the problem. So welfare should stay in place, even be enhanced, and the ensuing problems tackled with ever more resources. Greater redistribution will lead us to nirvana.

Shane Pleasance said...

Thats interesting. So conclusions and solutions are being made - possibly inadvertently, and possibly incorrectly. Does this notion then add bias to their research?