Service for child abuse victims
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.
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.