Toko­roa fig­ures for child abuse ‘alarm­ing’

South Waikato News - - FRONT PAGE - By FLORENCE KERR

Alarm­ing fig­ures on the num­ber of child abuse cases in Toko­roa have been ob­tained by the South Waikato News.

The statis­tics from the Min­istry of So­cial Devel­op­ment show in the year to June 2010 there were 11 cases of sex­ual abuse, 53 cases of phys­i­cal abuse and 182 cases of emo­tional abuse proven by au­thor­i­ties.

Some of these cases in­volved the same child suf­fer­ing mul­ti­ple forms of abuse.

In the same pe­riod 25 chil­dren were put into care and pro­tec­tion place­ments for the first time.

For the 12 months from July 2008 to June 2009 the min­istry re­ported 18 cases of sex­ual abuse, 31 cases of phys­i­cal abuse and 73 cases of emo­tional abuse against chil­dren.

Taupo MP Louis Up­ston is ap­palled at the rates of child abuse in the South Waikato District.

‘‘I am dis­gusted at the level of abuse that is go­ing on in our com­mu­nity and across the coun­try. New Zealand leads most OECD coun­tries in beat­ing, abus­ing and ne­glect­ing our own chil­dren. This is a prob­lem we all need to fo­cus on.’’

Mrs Up­ston, who has spent time pa­trolling the streets of Toko­roa with the town’s po­lice, said there hade been some new ini­tia­tives that help po­lice com­bat vi­o­lence.

‘‘I saw first hand the ben­e­fits of on the spot pro­tec­tion or­ders. I saw with my own eyes how this ini­tia­tive saves women and chil­dren in our com­mu­nity from

vi­o­lence. ‘‘We must en­sure no one turns a blind eye to child abuse. We must look out for ne­glect in our com­mu­ni­ties and in our schools. We must place a top pri­or­ity on the pro­tec­tion and safety of the chil­dren,’’ Mrs Up­ston said.

Toko­roa’s De­tec­tive Sergeant Kevan Verry has in­ves­ti­gated a num­ber of high pro­file cases in­clud­ing the death of Pu­taruru tod­dler Tyla Ma­ree Flynn.

At an in­quest into Ty­laMa­ree’s death last year, Mr Verry told the court that at times 50 per cent of cases Toko­roa de­tec­tives were in­ves­ti­gat­ing were of child abuse.

He said that due to the large vol­ume of child abuse cases a spe­cial task­force was cre­ated to han­dle the work­load.

‘‘Work­ing on mur­ders and child abuse cases has to be the hid­den side of what a po­lice of­fi­cer does and it af­fects all of the team in some way or an­other.

‘‘I am a fa­ther and have two young chil­dren and could as­so­ci­ate eas­ily with the dis- tress Lisa (Tyla’s mother) felt not only when she found her daugh­ter se­ri­ously hurt but also when she died.

‘‘The sat­is­fy­ing part about be­ing a de­tec­tive is work­ing through all the trauma and putting the pieces of the jig­saw puz­zle to­gether to pro­vide an­swers to the fam­ily as well as hold those per­sons re­spon­si­ble ac­count­able.’’

The high mor­tal­ity rate of chil­dren and in­fants in New Zealand has been deemed in a United Na­tions re­port as ‘‘stag­ger­ing.’’

Na­tional fig­ures show that abuse against chil­dren has in­creased.

In the 12 months to June 2010 com­pared with the 12 months to June 2009 the num­ber of sex­u­ally abused chil­dren jumped from 1126 to 1201. Phys­i­cal abuse cases in­creased by 11 cases from 2855 to 2886 and emo­tion­ally abused chil­dren had a sig­nif­i­cant rise from 10938 to 12535.

South Waikato District mayor Neil Sin­clair wants to en­cour­age the com­mu­nity to speak out.

‘‘As a com­mu­nity we need to re­mem­ber that child abuse in any form is not ac­cept­able.

‘‘ I en­cour­age peo­ple to re­port any sus­pi­cious sit­u­a­tion where they think a child may be suf­fer­ing abuse; it is bet­ter to speak out (and be wrong) than be right and re­gret not say­ing any­thing.

‘‘We are all neigh­bours and I be­lieve we have a car­ing com­mu­nity that needs to look out for each other and our fu­ture gen­er­a­tions,’’ Mr Sin­clair said.

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