The Dom Post editorial:
Social Development Minister Paula Bennett’s White Paper on vulnerable children includes steps that, properly implemented and resourced, will help ensure better reporting and information sharing by state and non-governmental agencies dealing with kids at risk.
It proposes mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse in all but name. Agencies working with children will be required by law to have policies on identifying and reporting possible abuse and neglect and professionals will have a clear responsibility to act.
The White Paper also proposes a central database of vulnerable children to give professionals working with them a comprehensive picture of their lives. Doctors, teachers, social workers, police and other agencies will have access to the database and be able to enter information. Details from a new child abuse line to take and triage calls from the public will also be fed into the database if concerns are found to warrant further attention.
The database will also include information on adults who have abused or neglected children, allowing those accessing it to see whether a child they are concerned about is in contact with someone who poses a danger to them.
Such a database is long overdue. There have been too many examples of one agency or professional having contact with a child in danger, but not acting to protect them.
There’s many worthwhile initiatives in the white paper, but I think this is the most important.
Too often the early abuse is not detected or acted upon until it is too late.