In­tent on end­ing child abuse

Matamata Chronicle - - News - By LAURA MCLEAY

Many abused chil­dren cling to the hope that one day some­one might step out and help them but of­ten no­body does.

One child is killed ev­ery five weeks in New Zealand as a re­sult of se­vere abuse and Child Youth and Fam­ily Ser­vices re­ceives more than 125,000 re­ports a year.

Brid­gette O’Sul­li­van’s heart broke when she heard these sta­tis­tics ear­lier in the year and it prompted her to sign up as an am­bas­sador for child abuse pre­ven­tion or­gan­i­sa­tion Child Mat­ters.

‘‘ Child abuse just makes my heart ache. With two chil­dren of my own, I just love kids and would love to think that all New Zealand kids could one day grow up and feel safe,’’ she said.

Child Mat­ters works to pre­vent child abuse by speak­ing up for New Zealand chil­dren, while edu- cat­ing adults about what to look for and what to do if abuse is sus­pected.

‘‘Child Mat­ters takes a pre­ven­ta­tive ap­proach so part of be­ing an am­bas­sador will in­volve rais­ing aware­ness about how big the prob­lem is in our coun­try and about Child Mat­ters and what they fo­cus on,’’ she said.

‘‘I will also be work­ing with high risk groups and pro­vid­ing them with the ed­u­ca­tion they re­quire and lob­by­ing the Govern­ment to make cer­tain ed­u­ca­tion re­gard­ing child abuse com­pul­sory in schools.’’

New Zealand has one of the high­est rates of child abuse among coun­tries in the Or­gan­i­sa­tion for Eco­nomic Co-op­er­a­tion and De­vel­op­ment but most cases go un­re­ported in the me­dia.

Mrs O’Sul­li­van be­lieved that main­stream New Zealan­ders would not know how bad child abuse re­ally was and nei­ther did she un­til two months ago when she met with Child Mat­ters chief ex­ec­u­tive Anthea Sim­cock to talk about be­com­ing in­volved.

‘‘I now know that so many chil­dren are at risk. You hear about the few cases in the me­dia and think that is all but that is barely scratch­ing the sur­face,’’ she said.

Ms Sim­cock said she was thrilled to have her join the team as an am­bas­sador. ‘‘Brid­gette has a pas­sion for chil­dren and be­lieves in our mis­sion to in­spire New Zealan­ders to make sure that ev­ery child flour­ishes in an environment safe from all abuse,’’ said Ms Sim­cock. ‘‘ She truly wants to make a dif­fer­ence in the lives of New Zealand chil­dren and we value her com­mit­ment.’’

Mrs O’Sul­li­van is also well­known for her work as a rac­ing am­bas­sador and stints as a tele­vi­sion pre­sen­ter.

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