Friday, August 02, 2013

Chart of the day

Here's one OECD chart New Zealand is topping, Family Violence


Chart SF3.4.A Prevalence of partner physical or sexual assault, women and men, around 2005.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

CPAG research inconclusive at best

New research from CPAG claims there is "no evidence of an association between benefit receipt and distinct substantiated rates of child abuse."  And later under Conclusion, "...benefit income does not appear to be related to rates of child abuse."

How did they arrive at this?

Here's a cut and paste of the entire relevant text and scan of their scatterplot:

3.5 Benefit uptake

Benefit data is held by the Ministry of Social Development. We have assumed WINZ offices cover broadly the same areas as CYF site offices as MSD appears to know what percent of the population is on a benefit (see for example Collins, 2013) so would use the same or similar population estimates they use for CYF purposes. Here, data for the four main income-tested benefits has been combined since not all the jobless go on an unemployment benefit nor is it only DPB recipients who care for children (similarly, not all DPB recipients care for children, although most do). Benefit figures are from June 2012 so are for a point in time only: the numbers can easily change if the dynamics of people moving on and off benefits changes. The percentage of beneficiaries in the population was plotted against the rate of substantiated distinct abuse cases in each site office. If there was a relationship we
would expect to see rates of substantiated abuse rise as the proportion of working-age beneficiaries rose. This relationship is statistically insignificant, with the R 2  value being 0.39. The values for each site office are in the Appendix at Table 6. 

Figure 5: Scatterplot showing rate of distinct substantiated cases of child abuse and proportion of income-tested beneficiaries in population for CYF site offices. R 2  = 0.39

 The site offices with rates above 2.5 include Taupo (2.76 but a below-average proportion of income-tested beneficiaries in the population); Clendon (2.96 and a slightly higher than average proportion of income-tested beneficiaries in the population); and Whakatane (3.5 and an above average 10.1% of the population being on an income-tested benefit) and Papakura (4.0 with the 10% of the population estimated to be on an income-tested benefit being slightly less than Whakatane). There are 8 site offices with a higher proportion of the population receiving an income-tested benefit that have below average rates of substantiated child abuse.

The weak relationship between benefit receipt and child abuse may be no more than a reflection of the impact of the low incomes of benefit recipients (Perry, 2007). The data here shows no evidence of an association between benefit receipt and distinct substantiated rates of child abuse.

I have one major problem with this chart. It uses benefit dependency rates across all benefits. Most people on a working age benefit are not caring for children (58% 2012). Most children dependent on a benefit rely on the DPB (78% 2012). What would the chart look like if the relevant population was plotted?

Remember that earlier Auckland University research found,

 "There are 10,300 children maltreated by age 5 and seen on a benefit by age 5, comprising 86% of all children with maltreatment findings by that age – suggesting that the majority of children  with maltreatment findings are on the benefit relatively early in their lives since we only lose 3% when we ignore children who arrive on the benefit after age 2."

This strongly suggests that most would be on the DPB. Consider this graph from the Children's Social Health Monitor:

Anyway CPAG took exception to the Auckland University in their first report saying,

"It suggests child maltreatment is a function of membership of particular social groups, something for which the evidence is very weak."

They footnote this claim with the following, "See Child Poverty Action Group technical paper (forthcoming)."

And here it is.

Whose research is more robust? The University of Auckland or the Child Poverty Action Group's?

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

CPAG report into child abuse disappoints

CPAG has been heralding the release of a new report into child abuse which analyses CYF data. It hasn't gone on-line yet but Stuff has a pre-report. There's nothing of great interest so far and their analysis about the types of abuse and why reports have risen are old hat.

Broken down into types of child abuse over the same time period, sexual abuse accounted for the smallest proportion, at 6.7% of cases.
Emotional abuse was the most common form, at 54.6% on average.
Sexual abuse and neglect was relatively constant during the period, but the number of emotional and physical abuse cases had risen.
CPAG said this could reflect an increase in the number of police and family violence referrals, or the impact of the Ministry of Social Development’s 'It’s not OK' campaign.

Anyone who takes an interest in this area is well acquainted with these 'findings'.


Actually I have found something of interest but CPAG missed it.

According to their report, the following are the areas with the highest rates of child abuse. They don't surprise. None is south of Taupo:

Far North

Last week I blogged about children taken into state care and did express surprise that the numbers were so high in the Southern region.

Children in out of home placements, by region

as at 31 Mar 2013
Northern Region 1,367 1,305 1,234 1,173 1,227 1,195
Midlands Region 816 869 876 744 749 792
Central Region 1,060 1,027 958 801 846 835
Southern Region 1,277 1,204 1,166 1,166 1,062 1,014
Adoptions / Others 2 3 4 1

National Total4,5224,4084,2383,8853,8843,836

Very broadly speaking, it looks like the highest rates of child abuse are in the north, but the highest rate of child removal into state care is in the south. Fascinating.

Perhaps the two things are connected. Where children are removed from risk, abuse rates are lower?

Welfare reform - the 1990s versus today

A column published in the NZCPD newsletter today speculates about the lack of public protest against National's current welfare reforms:

In the early 1990s the National government introduced welfare reforms that were met with enormous resistance and provoked a good deal of public sympathy for the plight of beneficiaries.  The reforms featured benefit cuts which reduced most incomes by around 10 percent, with some losing as much as 25 percent. These cuts affected hundreds of thousands of beneficiaries and their children directly, and others, like retailers and landlords, indirectly. While the government needed to both save money and increase the gap between benefit incomes and wages to incentivise greater productivity, unemployment was above ten percent.

Extending the IWTC is not a cure for child poverty

In the interests of children the In Work Tax Credit should be retained as a work incentive. Even Labour believed that working parents offered the best way out of poverty for children, and that extends beyond just the monetary rewards of working. That's why they designed a tax credit system that made working pay more.

Ever since, the CPAG has tried to overturn it, arguing discrimination against children of beneficiaries.

Today the NZ Herald has revealed that 51 percent of people participating in an on-line poll agree with CPAG. At 750 it's not a large sample but nevertheless it is disappointing that so many people don't think through the issue.

New Zealand's 'child poverty' problem is largely a result of welfare dependency. More welfare won't fix it.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

What has John Ansell got up his sleeve?

I don't know. But he's a clever, quirky man and I'll be watching tomorrow at 7.20am TV One.

At the protest today

Here's Lexie at parliament today. She appeared briefly on the TV3 news coverage. Good turn out I thought. Good on John Banks and Mojo Mathers who both spoke and promised to keep the pressure on. And especially well done Caroline Press for organising the event. Quite a daunting endeavour.

No-one responsible for drafting the bill or opposing the amendment appeared. Gutless. I noted a few Green flags flying despite their party actually enabling the passage of the bill. ACT was the only party that voted against the bill. For the life of me, I can't understand the regulation of synthetic cannabinoids while the natural version remains illegal.

Feminists trample on women's rights

Originally feminists fought for important rights, like universal franchise. Doubtless I'd have been amongst them. They fought for women's rights. But now, in some respects, they seem to fight against them. For instance the campaign against  sexualised images of women.

In the UK, the Co-op, "one of Britains' largest magazine retailers"  has agreed to only stock mags in bags. But it's not enough,
Sophie Bennet, spokeswoman for the Lose the Lad's Mags campaign by UK Feminista and Object said that the Co-op's move did not go far enough. "The more accurate term for these so-called "modesty bags" is "misogyny bags" because the issue for the thousands of people who have called on shops to lose the lads' mags is absolutely not about nudity. It's about sexism. And if a product is so degrading to women that it has to be covered up then the Co-operative should not be selling it.
"By stocking magazines like Nuts and Zoo, retailers like the Co-operative and Tesco are sending out the damaging message that it is normal and acceptable to treat women like dehumanised sex objects.
But if a female wants to act like a "sex object" and earn an income from it, what about her rights?

(Just discussing this with my 19 year-old son who says that these mags are, in fact  "empowering to women who use their natural assets to make shitloads of money and degrading to men who show how pathetic they are by buying them." Always nice to get a different perspective.)

Monday, July 29, 2013

Updating: "March against animal testing on party pills"

Reminder about tomorrow's protest in Wellington and other places. John Campbell just ran a good piece. It was sad to see John Banks speaking against this to an almost empty house. If you can make it, hope to see you there. For more details.


HUHA, Helping You Help Animals, is an organisation I admire and support for their work with homeless animals and philosophy of never euthanising simply because a home cannot immediately be found. I saw what they do first-hand when I got my Beagle from them.

They are organising a further protest against the testing of party pills on dogs on July 30, 12 noon. The Wellington protest will be at parliament but it looks like other protests will run elsewhere.

Nobody has to take a psychoactive drug. It's their choice and their risk.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Labour wants to tell us who we can and can't sell our property to

Labour has announced it will ban foreigners from buying houses.

What a racist, anti-global, anti-freedom joke. What a retrograde step for New Zealand's reputation as a desirable destination for immigrants.

And if I can't sell my property to the highest bidder, regardless of their skin colour or country of birth, that amounts to a confiscation of wealth.

It's a nasty small-minded policy that makes Labour look desperate. Shearer is under siege from his own party and consequently we're getting siege-mentality policies.

Local government taxing the bejesus out of us

Here's a number that doesn't get publicised often.

In the financial year ending June 2012 the total local government took in taxes was,

$4.653 billion

With a population of 4.471 that's  $1,041 per man, woman and child.

The bulk of the taxation is recurrent taxes on immovable property - rates.

A direct comparison is impossible due to record keeping differences and fifty years ago local government got a lot more revenue from rents on buildings, licences and public utilities but in rates alone, in 1952 it collected 14.5 million pounds on a population over just over 2 million. A ratio of around 7:1  compared to today's 1,000:1

Wow. WOW.