Friday, September 16, 2011

How attempts to protect children might backfire

The NZ Herald reports:

Turning a blind eye to child abuse will now be classified as criminal after Parliament tonight passed a law to hold people accountable.

The Crimes Amendment Bill (No 2) creates a new offence of failing to take reasonable steps to protect a child or vulnerable adult from the risk of death, grievous bodily harm or sexual assault, which comes with a maximum penalty of 10 years' imprisonment.

Parents or people aged over 18 could be found liable if they had frequent contact with the victim, including if they were a member of the same household or if they were a staff member at an institution where the victim lived.

There is a distinct possibility this law will increase the danger for abused children. That is because children may become more isolated as people who merely suspect abuse remove themselves from the circle of liability.

This may appear to be an abdication of responsibility but even for the best intentioned people, those who give freely of their time to work in high risk communities, the potential risks to themselves may become too high.


Berend de Boer said...

I think it is a certainty that people will now simply avoid getting in contact with cultures prone to this kind of thing.

Indeed, even more isolation.

Maungakiekie said...

I've been very uneasy since I heard about this legislation, and this is one aspect that I had not considered yet.

Thanks for the insight, Lindsay.

Shane Pleasance said...

But somebody had to "do something"!

Unintended consequences are not relevant.

Government has replaced the individual.

And, most importantly, something has been done.

Right voters, what's next?