I've just been listening to DPF's favourite friend, Michael Laws on Radio Live – Michael advocates sterilizing men and women who are perpetrators of extreme abuse of children. Why are so many against it? Are these the same people that use the line “put children first”? If we aren't for capital punishment for people that kill and maim kids then perhaps sterilisation is an option. The Family Violence Death Review Committee has just released figures that show at least sixteen children were killed in family violence incidents in the past year. That is just child deaths from family violence, how many children have been subject to injury-causing sexual and physical abuse this past year?
If we were putting children first then sterilisation (voluntary or compulsory) could be an option – on top of prison sentences and the like. The criteria would have to be rather tight. Would sterilization just be for serious physical and sexual abuse cases? Or for neglect?
Many serious male, youth offenders between the ages of 15 and 17 are either Maori or Pacific Island. Most present to the courts with a history of abuse, drug use, gang affiliations, and the like. The stereotype really isn't far from the truth. Most of those boys have siblings. If we really cared about those children left behind then surely we would stop those children having to end up the same products of abuse – either remove children at birth OR take one step back and sterilise the Mothers and Fathers on proof of abuse. Many of the offenders of New Zealand's worst child abuse/murder cases had other children and others went on to have more… can we think about those children rather than focus on the abhorrent act? How do we help those children left behind (or still to be born)?
We need to have a real consequence for the worst offenders to protect further children from being hurt. Those that kill their kids through abuse and neglect can't be trusted with precious children.
To change those broken parts of NZ society we need to look at what successful families do well and replicate them OR we need to accept that those parts of society will always be there. The problem is we either need to make crap parents do these programmes (with consequences if they don't) or we can put programmes into ECE and schools that are value based AND give children self-belief and esteem. We can have teachers and doctors and other professionals that interact with these children and they will make a difference (I'm pleased it will soon be mandatory). Would crap parents care about programmes?
The problem with the “more programme” argument is that it takes the responsibility away from the perpetrators, it assumes crap parents want to commit to them and it is rather paternalistic. I had an interesting chat to a Principal the other day. He is a new Principal to a decile ten school. Previously he has lead decile three and five schools. As a Principal he is relishing that he and his teachers (in the decile 10) get to focus on teaching and learning outcomes. He has told off about three children this year; literally a “don't do that again” telling off. In the decile three and five schools he had to deal with a myriad of issues that ultimately occurred because of the family issues. Is it just a money and haves vs have nots issue? If it was that then how come some successful lower-income families produce children that do have respect, values and contribute positively to society later in life?
It does take one person to notice, and act on abuse… as long as there is a trusted system that acts in return. Of course, that system doesn't have to be the State.