Saturday, June 15, 2013

CPAG urges you to vote for "poverty"

Next Wednesday, 8.30pm on TV3, The Vote will debate the following topic:

Our kids - The problem’s not poverty, it’s parenting. Do you agree?


Over at The Standard (not a "sewer blog") they have drawn attention to what the Child Poverty Action Group is saying about the programme:

 "....I would urge you to watch the show and vote if you can – it would be good to get some strong voter numbers in support of the “poverty” side because blaming the situation on parents alone simply lets the government off the hook."

So, whoever 'our kids' are, and whatever 'the problem' is, they say it's the government's fault.

I suppose I could agree, in that the government has done too much, over too many decades, to turn parents into immature, unimaginative, emotionally ill-equipped individuals hooked on hand-outs, but I don't think that's what CPAG are implying.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Truth column June 13-19

My Truth column June 13-19:

What would Green Party co-leader Russel Norman remember about Robert Muldoon?
Not only was he living in another country, but born in 1967, he’d have been all of eight when ‘Piggy’ came into office. So characterising Prime Minister John Key as the born-again Muldoon at last week’s party conference was quite weird. I wonder who writes Norman’s speeches. But more to the point, who is the writer trying to appeal to? The Green’s target audience won’t remember Muldoon either. What was “Hey, Clint – are we pleased?” thinking of? It’s a pretty funny strategy though. Because, if any party channels echoes of the Muldoon era, it’s the Greens.


(Sorry, the columns are a bit dated by the time they appear here.)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Bias about abuse still abounds

I've been vaguely following the Owen Glenn Inquiry melt-down which the NZ Herald seem particularly pre-occuppied with, providing an almost daily instalment.

What I keep noticing though is the slant on the subject of abuse. For instance in today's Herald editorial:

Like most men, he will be unable to fathom how any self-respecting male can do violence to a woman or child. He knows it should not be happening in his own country. He wants to know why it happens, what the police and social agencies are doing about it, and how it can prevented. So do we all.
Then from another piece by Simon Collins:

 Waikato University psychologist Dr Neville Robertson, who said on Friday that the think-tank hoped to make a collective response by Sunday night, said he told other think-tank members by email yesterday that he used to think it would be possible to end violence against women and children in his lifetime.

This tenor has struck me at other times. Collins describing the recruitment of now resigned head, Ruth Herbert:

Ms Herbert jumped at the chance, and by the time the inquiry was announced in September its focus had broadened from child abuse to include domestic violence - the issue she has campaigned on for much of her life.
"Seventy per cent of the child abuse cases also have domestic violence happening, mostly the father abusing the mother," she explained.

In an earlier editorial not related to the Glenn Inquiry the Herald once again took this position:

 The vast majority of child abuse is perpetrated by men.

In the interests of balance here's a quote from Professor David Fergusson of the long-standing Christchurch Health and Development Study:

 "The proper message is that both gender groups have a capacity for domestic violence [and] women probably perpetrate more assaults on children then men do," Mr Fergusson said.
The ramifications are a public health system that tends to overlook male victims of domestic violence.
One example was White Ribbon Day, which he had been critical of because it focused on female survivors of domestic violence and there was "no comparable day for male victims".
"It is those biases which have been built into our system right the way through it, largely from feminist rhetoric that implies that males are always to blame"

And from Child Matters:

Myth: Most physical abuse is carried out by men, especially fathers.
Reality: Physically abusive acts towards children are just as likely to be carried out by mothers as fathers.

The inquiry is supposed to be officially about All Forms of Child Abuse and Domestic Violence in New Zealand

Monday, June 10, 2013

CPAG - messy associations

Now here's an interesting clash.

Today the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) released a new report about the link between poverty and child abuse (more to say about the content soon).

The report talks more than  once, and negatively, about an Auckland University Study which found 83 percent of children with a substantiated finding of abuse by age five had appeared in the benefit system by age two.

Perhaps more alarmingly, Volume 2 of the While Paper contains a chapter on “identifying children in target populations” (Chapter 4). Despite the difficulties outlined in this review in identifying when and where child maltreatment might happen, this chapter introduces the idea of a ‘predictive risk model’ to assist in identifying ‘vulnerable’ children (Vaithianathan et al., 2012). The model includes 132 variables for inclusion in the core algorithm (Vaithianathan et al., 2012, p. 11), making it arguably of limited use. The researchers used data based on benefit receipt, and found a strong association with benefit receipt and child maltreatment, although it is unclear if the beneficiary was identified as the abuser. This use of data to target subgroups of the population raises very serious questions about marking out and branding families on the basis of factors or circumstances over which they have  no  control.  It  suggests  child  maltreatment  is  a  function  of  membership  of  particular  social groups,  something  for  which  the  evidence  is  very  weak. 13  

Named as one of the project team behind the Auckland University study is Claire Dale, Research Fellow, Department of Economics, Auckland University. She is one of the et al cited above.

Well, that's a surprise. Claire Dale is also a member of CPAG, and Virginia Dale was the CPAG 2012 Student Scholar (supervised by Claire Dale) who produced this highly political piece, Myths and Facts: Sole Parents and the DPB. (See my response to that paper here).

Rodney is 'still in the building'

Just reflecting......

He may have left Parliament but Rodney Hide has not left politics. Not when you consider the amount of writing he produces for the Herald on Sunday and National Business Review; not when you think about the number of times he turns up on Radio Live either as a host or panel member, often the sole espouser of sanity; not when he turns up at the annual conference of the party that abandoned him but whose ideas he still believes in above any others.

He's still driven by a belief in individual freedom and responsibility. It's not something he can just turn off. Rodney was and is the 'real deal'.

On the other hand, whatever happened to Heather Roy? Acquired a chairmanship (note the only member with a photo) which probably affords the two things that she seemed to have developed a taste for; expensive clothes and coiffure, and power over other people.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Over half of all children will spend time on welfare by age 14

Today's graph from the Ministerial Committee on Poverty report shows how many children spend x number of years on a benefit, more focus on the major reason for child poverty.

Again this type of information has long been available, but depicted this way is far more accessible. Immediately we can see that over a 14 year period around 200,000 children will spend between 7 and 14 years reliant on a benefit. Just over half will spend some time on a main benefit (Domestic Purposes, Sickness, Invalid and Unemployment Benefits):