It is natural when faced with not only the tragic killing of infant twins, but also a family who seemed to have adopted a mafia type vow of silence not to let any one be held accountable, that people ask how does this happen, that a family gets like this?
New blogger Patrick Dunford looks at the much lower rate of Pacific Island child abuse, and wonders if their religious faith and family based social structures explain part of that.
No Right Turn makes the unpopular but correct observation that the Kahui family are not legally obliged to co-operate with the Police. However actions have consequences and if they choose to take a mafia type vow of silence to protect the family, they will face public odium and pressure for that choice.
Parekura Horomia, Pita Sharples and Ron Mark have all called for the Police to “take” family members in for questioning and/or obstruction of justice. The family incidentally need to be careful about the difference between refusing to say anything (which they can do) and all agreeing to a line of they don’t know who did it (which would probably qualify as conspiracy to commit perjury or something).
The Counties Manukau’s police commander has stated there is an element of hypocrisy to Maori and Pacific Island cultures that promote aroha (love) and whanau (family).
Alan Duff refers to the once were warriors culture in the Kahui family which saw an adult passed out from alcohol at seven pm, when Pita Sharples called, and says the answer is “We’ve got to instil values.”
John Minto says “society is to blame” for the death of the twins. He claims Maori in our low income communities have seen their standard of living plummet in two decades, and this is to blame. The interesting thing is that while I don’t have figures right back to 1986 on hand, I have sourced some data for more recent years. A Treasury papers says from 1991 to 1996 Maori incomes increased. The Stats NZ income data shows average income for Maori increased 24% from June 2001 to June 2005 (identical to NZ increase of 25%).
And finally a Labour Department study of the years 1997 to 2003 found that the 22% increase in Maori income was higher than that of any other ethnic group (including European). I wonder with the Mintos of the world if there is anything at all they don’t blame on society?
Bruce Logan says family values help prevent abuse, lamenting that “Sex and marriage used to be about the birth and nurturing of children and social order. Now sex is about the acceptance of behaviour which is of no concern to anyone other than the consenting adults involved.” I agree with Logan that family values are crucial, but I don’t see that has much to do with consensual pre-marital sex. Family values are about having a work ethic in a family, valuing education, being prepared to put you child’s needs over your own etc etc.
Children’s Commissioner Cindy Kiro says the repeal if Section 59 is “a fundamental and necessary step to ensure that children in New Zealand grow up in safe and secure environments.” I will blog later on about the stupidity of the Section 59 repeal advocates in trying to link child murders to Section 59 in this way.
Dover Samuels has said “Some Maori leaders are covering up child abuse under the pretence that the violence is part of their culture”
As for my personal view, well the thing that struck me is how 11 out of 12 adults in that family are on benefits. With the lowest unemployment in the world there is just no legitimate excuse for that, and such a culture of non work would be an awful environment for bringing up a family.
This isn’t an argument against welfare per se. Far from it. I have friends who are solo mums or on the invalids benefit who are or will be great parents and they are using the welfare system in the way it is designed. But it was never designed to have 11 able bodied adults to be able to spend most of their day sitting at home getting pissed by 7 pm, while no one notices the kids being killed.
Perhaps CYPFS should not just be reactive to complaints, but be funded so it can be pro-active to identify at risk families such as this one, and intervene before it it too late? Maybe one needs agencies to share data to identify “profiles” such as over-crowded homes or more than x number of people on a benefit. People don’t like profiling, but waiting for the children to turn up dead isn’t a great alternative.
Sadly at the end of the day while there are many factors such as culture, poverty, family values, education etc there are no easy fixes. And regardless of all of the above, we should never let “factors” divert us from the fact that anyone who kills a child like this is quite amoral or evil, and those who cover it up are also evil. All (well bar sociopaths or severely retarded) human beings have the ability to know right from wrong when it is as basic as this.
UPDATE: Jordan has taken offence (well as much offence as you can when he is sitting next to me) at my last few paras. But he is reading things into what I said. I was very careful not to say benefits kill kids. In fact I specifically went out of my way to talk about my positive experiences with benefits helping people. What I was saying is that 11/12 adults on a benefit is an unhealthy environment.
I did not say the solution is to cut off their benefits. I raised it in the context of whether extremely high levels of benefit dependency may be an indicator of concern for child welfare. It’s one of the problems the left often has – that they feel any discussion of benefit dependency is an attack on the entire welfare system. And it needn’t be.
Tags: New Zealand