Wednesday, July 08, 2015

A "dreadful" trend

In 2001 there were 1,814 substantiated findings of physical abuse against children.

By 2008 the number had grown to 2,232.

At March 2015 the number has grown to 3,144.

A 23 percent rise in the first seven year period.

A 41 percent rise in the latter 7 year period.


The Government's latest report card for the public service shows an increase in the number of children and young people being assaulted - a trend that Labour describes as "dreadful".

The trend was also "dreadful"  under Labour.

Perhaps less dreadful but dreadful nevertheless.

The politicisation of this awful blight gets us nowhere. Naturally any incumbent government can find explanations eg greater reporting and so greater opportunity to discover and substantiate. Naturally the opposition can discount this.

And so it goes...


Brendan McNeill said...


First I am deeply sympathetic to those who find themselves victims of abuse, and the growing instance of it.

What we are wrestling with here is the terrible nature of human desire. If there is no external frame of reference, then there is nothing that elevates one human desire above another, nothing that provides us with a measure that says one desire is nobler than another.

Sure, we live in a culture that is still vaguely informed by our Judeo / Christian heritage, many of us still believe that people should treat each other with common decency and respect, especially babies and those who cannot defend themselves, but absent God, why?

Why does any male have to come home to crying babies, noise, disruption and strife? Why can he not enforce his own requirement for quiet at any cost? Why does another human life take precedence over his life and the right to express his own desires?

Until we can answer that question beyond social and personal preference, and even the rule of law, then we have no answer, and that is the nature of the problem we face in New Zealand.

Lindsay Mitchell said...

Animals "can't answer that question" yet instinctively protect their young until it is no longer necessary. Some individuals have the lost the biological (and deeply emotional) impulse (at best, momentarily) to put their offspring's needs first. Fortunately, the "nature of the problem we face" is still confined to a relatively tiny minority.

Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Lindsay

An appeal to nature takes us only so far. Animals respond from instinct but lack the capability of moral choice that is unique to humankind. Male lions have no compulsion about killing their male offspring that they (rightly) view as future competitors, and yet we don’t condemn them.

If we view human beings as simply ‘advanced animals’ then on what basis can we condemn those who kill their offspring, or offspring from another male who are living within their domain?

But you naturally and rightly recoil from such a proposition. Why?

tranquil said...

Well..... so much for the "anti-smacking law". Mountains of idealism, zero effect in the real world.

Malcolm C said...

With a culture of intolerance and selfishness this is what we get.
I wish they could think "I will gladly die to protect my child and wife. It is for others that I serve that brings me happiness."
Maybe that is too sexist and old school, but I think it works well.

david said...

Watching my grandchildren, the elder (boy) is coming up to 2 years. He is fine most of the time, but when he is frustrated or upset, he sometimes belts his baby sister. Jealousy maybe? No longer the focus of attention? Not yet learned in the Judeo-Christian tradition? We were watching him and diverting him, but sometimes things happen very quickly and he can pack a punch. It did have me wondering if sometimes adults chose to take the blame when injuries happen.

My understanding is that lions kill the very young offspring of other males, they protect their own male offspring until they are old enough to be a challenge, at which point they chase them away rather than kill them. Brendan may be right that we are observing similar behaviour in humans when a different dominant male joins a family group - it would not be a surprise and he is not the first to suggest itj. That we generally don't kill our rivals' progeny is probably due more to the difference in kin group structure than any Judeo / Christian heritage - after all human 'morality' is relatively consistent across most religious/ethnic groupings. Yet saying that, one has to remember that there are instances in both the Bible and the Koran where followers are urged to kill the young males of their enemies and take the women as wives.

JC said...

The problem is we don't know what the problem is!

It's useless to say we have 3000 cases of abuse without disclosing a whole range of factors that might have a bearing on the abuse and reporting on those factors over a long enough period of time.

Such as, male v female abuser, relationship to child, ethnicity, income band, education level, religion, crime profile, early family circumstances of abuser etc. We need a picture of the abusers before we can do much about it.

Now, all these things are collected and known but are rarely collated in a structured and ongoing reporting form so that all can see and understand the nature of the problem.

As it stands anyone can put up their favourite cause or bias and the public has no way of knowing if its right or wrong, important or trivial. How the hell can you fix a problem on just one bald statement on total numbers?

All that happens is you spread the blame across everyone and introduce laws like the anti smacking law, or increase benefits to all or do some other universal act that affects everyone and doesn't directly solve or ameliorate a specific problem.