Ser­vice for child abuse vic­tims

Central Leader - - News - By Lisa Sloan

Re­tired Youth Court judge Mick Brown says the whole com­mu­nity needs to step up to help pre­vent child abuse.

Mr Brown will speak at a ser­vice at St Matthew-in-the-City on Sun­day called It’s Not Ok: When Will Child Abuse Stop?

The event will re­mem­ber chil­dren who have suf­fered and died at the hands of child abuse in New Zealand.

Mr Brown says it is up to com­mu­ni­ties to take re­spon­si­bil­ity for the prob­lem.

“To sur­vive, a com­mu­nity must have a vi­sion that is greater than one­self,” he says.

“This should be of con­cern to us all and peo­ple need to speak out and start do­ing some­thing.”

The for­mer prin­ci­pal Youth Court judge spent al­most 20 years on the bench sen­tenc­ing youth of­fend­ers. He is also in­volved with a num­ber of com­mu­nity groups and was made a com­pan­ion of the New Zealand Or­der of Merit for his ser­vices to the youth court, ed­u­ca­tion and the com­mu­nity.

So­cial work­ers, doc­tors, coun­sel­lors and com­mu­nity work­ers who have been in­volved with the fight against child abuse have all been in­vited to at­tend Sun­day’s ser­vice.

The pub­lic is also en­cour­aged take part in the ser­vice by light­ing a can­dle to sym­bol­ise a life lost.

Mr Brown says poverty, so­cio-eco­nomic sta­tus and gang af­fil­i­a­tions all con­trib­ute to child abuse. He has seen young peo­ple through the courts who have not been to school since they were 10 years old and have had no ed­u­ca­tion.

He’s also seen of­fend­ers steal­ing just to feed their fam­i­lies and chil­dren forced to sell drugs or face a beat­ing from their par­ents.

But he says the prob­lem is much larger than that and peo­ple of all back­grounds need to take re­spon­si­bil­ity.

“I grew up with peo­ple who lived in low so­cioe­co­nomic ar­eas in state houses and they went on to lead very suc­cess­ful lives,” he says.

Mr Brown says child abuse has in­creased be- cause at­ti­tudes in so­ci­ety have changed.

When he was a boy, chil­dren spent a lot of time with their neigh­bours and fam­i­lies would com­mu­ni­cate with each other if some­thing was wrong.

“Now we have neigh­bour­hoods where fam­i­lies don’t talk to each other and com­mu­ni­ties don’t get in­volved any­more,” he says.

“At­ti­tudes may have changed, but I don’t think we can af­ford to do noth­ing about this.”

Or­gan­iser Ch­eryl Love hopes the ser­vice will help peo­ple to ac­knowl­edge child abuse.

“It’s a fun­da­men­tal prob­lem but no one wants to be held re­spon­si­ble. But what about th­ese chil­dren and their rights to grow up and do any­thing? That’s the real tragedy here.”

The ser­vice for child abuse will be held at St Matthew-in-the-City this Sun­day at 2pm fol­lowed by an af­ter­noon tea.

Guest speak­ers will also in­clude Waitakere mayor Bob Har­vey and Ju­dith Tizard. For cater­ing, RSVP to Ch­eryl Love on 629-5142.

Photo: LISA SLOAN

United front: For­mer prin­ci­pal Youth Court judge Mick Brown and Ch­eryl Love are tak­ing part in a ser­vice to re­mem­ber vic­tims of child abuse this Sun­day.

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