Intent on ending child abuse
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.