October 11, 2012
Maori need to break abuse silence
A Maori children’s advocate says the focus on reporting in the Government’s white paper on vulnerable children will be a challenge for Maori.
Anton Blank says while the policy agenda released today by Social Development Minister Paula Bennett is light on action to address wider contributing factors like poverty, mental health and drug and alcohol abuse, it does point to the creation of a child-centred workforce.
It includes a plan to teach all doctors and teachers to recognise signs of abuse, and encourages others to speak up.
Mr Blank says that’s tough for Maori communities.
"We are innately suspicious of Child, Youth and Family and the police, so Maori hate reporting to those agencies, and I’ve worked with Maori schools – the hardest thing for them to do is report a case, often because they might be related to the parents, that the whole school operates on a whanau basis so parents are in and out of the school so they know these people. So it’s really hard for them to report, and in terms of Maori child abuse, we need to get over that," he says.