The child victim toll must come down
‘‘We can ensure this issue has an unflagging focus.’’
This week, Stuff relaunches the Faces of Innocents project and introduces a new concept – the Child Victim Toll.
Moko Rangitoheriri’s death provoked incensed citizens to march in the streets, demanding answers from the family, the community, and the authorities. Subjected to horrendous abuse from David Haerewa and Tania Shailer, Moko could never be called lucky. But the public grief caused by his death means he will never be forgotten.
Many other child victims are denied a lasting legacy. They are remembered only by those who knew them in their too-short lives. Children like Anaru Rogers from Wellington, Gracie-May McSorley from the Kapiti Coast, or Kathleen Harris from Upper Hutt. We owe them more.
Our Faces of Innocents project, launched last year, created a public memorial to child victims of abuse, neglect or maltreatment. It shined a light on one of this country’s most troubling ills.
This week, the project expands to commemorate more of the 209 children lost in the last 25 years and to introduce a new concept: the Child Victim Toll.
We cannot pretend that any one policy, community initiative, or even all the money in the world will stop all innocent children from dying.
But we can ensure this issue has an unflagging focus.
The Child Victim Toll is based on our database of every child victim since 1992. Assembled and updated by our reporters, it is the first and only public source of its kind.
Last year, our database recorded 14 children who died. In 2009, the worst year on our record, the child victim toll was 17.
Despite our extensive investigations, some children will have escaped notice. We have taken up the mantle of tracking this vital information.
We hope this toll will inspire more New Zealanders to act: to learn about the scale of the problem; volunteer to help children at risk; donate to support an agency working to prevent child abuse; and report any signs of possible abuse.
For Moko, Kathleen, Anaru and every child victim, we say: we must not accept an inexorable rise in the number of Faces of Innocents. The Child Victim Toll must come down.
For more or ways you can be involved go to stuff.co.nz