Monday, November 21, 2011

Is this sensationalism?

Here is the angle documentary-maker Bryan Bruce is putting on New Zealand's child poverty rate:

More than 100 New Zealand children who died last year would probably have survived had they lived in Japan, Sweden or the Czech Republic, a new documentary shows.

But not if they had lived in Australia, the United Kingdom or Canada which all cluster around similar infant mortality rates as New Zealand.

Canada 5.2
NZ 4.8
United Kingdom 4.6
Australia 4.1

The Stuff report continues:

"Last year, more than 25,000 children were admitted to hospital for respiratory infections. Doctors routinely treat cases of rheumatic fever and scabies – diseases now rare in Europe.

The reason behind these preventable diseases were appalling rates of child poverty that New Zealand could not afford to ignore, Mr Bruce said."

The biggest contributor to these diseases is, in my view, the environments children live in. These unhealthy environments are often due to nobody taking responsibility for safe standards of hygiene and cleanliness. Mould can be cleaned from walls; floors that babies and toddlers crawl on can be vacuumed and mopped; food refuse can be removed rather than left to rot and attract flies and maggots. Overcrowding is frequently a symptom of choice. Choosing to share accommodation to reap more income and choosing to have children.

Returning to the opening suggestion that 100 more children would have survived had they been born in Sweden that isn't necessarily down to lower child poverty. For instance, child death in the immediate post-natal phase can be due to premature birth. Premature births can be due to very young maternal age. Sweden's teenage birth rate is much lower than New Zealand's. So the reason for this particular difference is largely cultural.

The Children's Social Health Monitor comments:

"While infant mortality rates are generally higher for Pacific>; Māori> ; European / Other babies, males, and those in the most deprived areas , total infant mortality rates are of limited utility in guiding population health interventions, as the causes of mortality differ markedly with the age of the infant. During the neonatal period (birth–28 days) extreme prematurity, congenital anomalies and intrauterine / birth asphyxia are the leading causes of mortality, while in the post neonatal period (29–364 days) sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI) and congenital anomalies make the greatest contribution . Thus any interventions aimed at reducing New Zealand’s infant mortality rates must, in the first instance, be based on an understanding of their component causes."

The good news is, in any case, the infant mortality rate is dropping every year. In 50 years it has dropped from 23 infant deaths per 1,000 to 4.8.

I doubt Mr Bruce will provide some reasonable context for his claims. Perhaps he should stick to investigating unresolved New Zealand crimes.


Libertyscott said...

Again it is part of the zeitgeist that child poverty is everyone's problem and nobody's fault - when it is first and foremost the parents' problem and their responsibility.

People should, of course, feel free to help and provide assistance, but the overall insinuation is that EVERYONE is letting down poor children, when those who let them down the most are those who made them.

Anonymous said...

I am in 2 minds about whether to watch this doco - especially after DPF blogged that it appears like it will merely be a "free campaign hour" for Labour rather than a good unbiased objective look at the issue. He said this because there is an interview with an academic who says: “Labour builds them [state houses], maintains them reasonably well then National gets in … sells off stock.”

I note the doco guy does say "A nation with poor children is a poor excuse for a nation ... it's not a political question, it's an ethical question. No child should go hungry in this country, no child should have a preventable disease."

So we'll see.

Ultimately though it does seem to be yet another example of those on the left who think that it is because of what governments are doing and what we are doing (or not doing) that is causing child poverty. And it is not. It is their parents fault.

Given our bulging welfare state and hand-outs that make the African kids salivate there is just no excuse for any child to sleep on a mattress, go to school hungry, have "red soup" (left over cheerio water) for dinner or wear shoes that are taped together. No excuse.

Kiwiwit said...

Unsolicitedioius is right - this documentary is part of the surreptitious election campaign run by the left-leaning media every election. I don't listen to National Radio any longer but I shudder to think about the parade of left-wing commentators they must have had on air in recent weeks.

Simon Arnold said...

I too thought that at least the Promo PR being published by an uncritical media was suggestive of a polemic rather than a documentary.

I commented on a number of exaggerations etc on the Kiwiblog thread on the program.

I should note that it would be hard to run a line this was pro-Labour since most of the stats seem to be drawn from a time when they were the government.

brian_smaller said...

These people who live in squalor have nothing but themselves to blame. Some rags, water and janola doesn't cost much. Clean the fucking mould up. Open some windows and let light and air in. These ferals could have ten grand a month and their kids would still be covered in sores.

Lindsay Mitchell said...

Simon, Saw your comments. Well done for your healthy skepticism and curiosity. Strange that the more access we have to real-time info, the less people use it.

Brian, You and I have both seen it firsthand. Many times.