Nia’s agony – and another girl’s misery
Another week, yet more horrifying insights into the terrible life of threeyearNia Glassie as the father of the brothers convicted of Nia’s murder is also found guilty of cruel assaults on her ... Nelson parents in court and their baby boy in Starship with a fractured skull.
And the wave of angry letters continues – the most sustained reader reaction in 15 years of this column and, for me, the most moving response since my Thomas case revelations more than 30 years ago. Here are quotes from some of them, a number are abridged:
“I’m a 19-year-old girl with an amazing group of friends, a first-time office job and I’m living independently with an amazing group of people. But not everything was great for me.
“From the time I was born until about 10 I was constantly beaten, sexually abused, emotionally abused and fighting for my life. I knew no other life and the sick thing was that it was normal – every naughty kid was treated this way, weren’t they?
“Well, obviously I know that is a lie if I have ever heard one, and what makes me sooooo angry was that no one in the neighbourhood said anything – aunts and uncles turned their backs and older cousins just joined in the ‘fun’ and I was everybody’s problem!
“Because I never stayed long in a household I was always shifted along to the next family member. At eight, I noticed that my little brother and sister were being treated the same way. I stood up and told someone because I didn’t want them to go through what had happened to me. And I kept telling someone until I was eventually heard and action took place – but freaking heck, it was hard.
“I remember telling my teacher that I was not going to school because our family had no food to eat – my days off added up to about three months in one school year. The teacher just excused my absences and nothing more was done!
“And when I did tell somebody about the sexual and physical abuses and was finally heard, I felt extremely guilty for years after – and some people in my family didn’t make it any easier. You’re right, the system does fail in its responsibility to the children of this nation and the only way that a child will get help is if they have the audacity to ‘nark’ on the people doing this to them.
“What can I do to help? Cause I’m the best narker in the world and I am no longer ashamed of it, just angry at those who let me down.” – Name provided
Constance Johnson, Waikowhai: “I read your Tiny Voices from the Grave column with tears in my eyes. It’s time the death penalty was brought back for people guilty of such heinous crimes. But if that’s not acceptable, then lock the murderers up for life – and make it life.
“For those families who were present when a child was beaten to death, but won’t admit who did it, lock the whole lot up until one person does confess or dobs in the culprit.
“While parents, boyfriends, caregivers continue to brutally attack small, defenceless children and get a slap with a wet bus ticket as punishment, New Zealand will never be regarded as a civilised country but as a place where the natives condone these horrendous crimes and our justice system is non-existent.”
From a victim: “When I was raped at seven there was no help for victims. If I ‘d known where I could find help I would have done so. But I was threatened as well. In a child’s mind, when an adult threatens you, who do you turn to, where can you go for security, who can you trust?”
Kirstin Dufty, Pakuranga, who lost her 11-year-old son in tragic circumstances: “Your column was the most thought-provoking piece of writing I have ever read. I hope it has touched the hearts of those who have power to make changes. What could possibly make a human being, let alone a parent, do such horrifi things to a child? Tougher sentencing is the number one priority and conviction of those who stay silent.”
Pauline Innes: “We appear to have better laws on the ill-treatment of animals than we do for our children.”
Jan McIlroy, Hillcrest: “I hope our new government is going to stop the namby pamby dithering and do something about improving the law, and to get the appropriate social services to work together to stop these unnecessary deaths.”
Cheryl Atkinson on abuse of Maori children by Maori: “Women’s partners are more to blame than the birth fathers and the birth mothers are vastly intimidated by their powerful partners by not intervening in their children’s defence. As a European white woman, I would leave my husband in an instant if he threatened my children. Maybe Maori women don’t know about support services for battered women? Does the law let them down? Do they have no support services?”
Tim Nalden, Onehunga: “It sickened me to see television footage of those charged with the murder of Nia Glassie sniggering and chuckling in court. And it angers me that the loopholes in our legal system have seen no one brought to justice for the cold-blooded murders of the Kahui twins.
“As the wave of political correctness has swept over our once-proud nation, the legal system has placed an emphasis on prisoner welfare, rehabilitation, parole and reducing prison populations.
“While many of these items are valid, those responsible for our justice system have lost sight of the primary purposes of law and order – to appropriately punish criminals, to protect society from these thugs, and to send the strongest message possible that these crimes are not tolerated.”
Fiona Liddlow, a mother of two boys aged four and two: ‘I have tried to voice my concerns extensively over the very issues that you have raised. I wrote to Parliament last year on crimes of this sort and I got a complete brush-off – in particular over the Kahui twins.
“I am appalled and amazed that when these terrible, senseless deaths occur, families are allowed, in fact entitled, to close ranks without any pressure whatsoever to bring these murderers to justice.
“These people didn’t think twice when they created life, and yet they keep proving more than once that they think even less when they take life. These families stick together after these horrifi crimes, yet they do not stick together when the children most significantly need it.”
Maureen Pribble, Albany: “When it comes to child abuse and baby killing, I wonder if rugby has sucked us dry of any compassion, or time to do anything about it. If we can spend hours at the stadium or watching television, why can’t we spend a few minutes to ring or write to our Member of Parliament demanding something be done about this disgraceful situation?
“If our sympathies go out to an injured rugby player, who’ll recover and play next week, surely we have enough compassion left to feel for each helpless baby that’s kicked, thrown around, beaten over the head, abused, until their brief life is ended and death is a relief.
“Are we just too blind to see, too stupid to understand, too callous to care, or too lazy to do anything about it? This must be a sign of a sick society when we spend more time, money, energy and passion on a sport than we do on a problem that shames us as a socalled developed nation?” • The three columns on violence against children and reactions from distressed, angry readers have been referred for comment to Prime Minister John Key, Minister of Justice Simon Power, Minister of Maori Affairs Pita Sharples and Turiana Turia, the other joint leader of the Maori Party.