The child protection law proposals

Paula Bennett has announced details of law changes to try and reduce the terrible rate of we have in this country. Not only is child abuse a tragedy for the kids abused, but almost inevitably those abused have terrible outcomes in terms of health, education, employment and crime – in fact many become child abusers themselves. Breaking the cycle of abuse is incredibly important, and incredibly difficult.

The key details are:

  • New legislated responsibilities for Police, Justice and the Ministries of Health, Education and Social Development
  • Screening and vetting of every person in the Government Children’s Workforce will be introduced
  • People with serious convictions will be permanently restricted from working closely with children
  • Parents who seriously abuse or even kill children will have to prove they are safe to parent again; if they go on to have another child, reversing the current onus of proof
  • Child Harm Prevention Orders to be placed on adults who pose a serious risk to children
  • Courts can curtail and define guardianship rights of birth parents in extreme cases

There is a q+a here.

I welcome the Government taking these bold steps. Just saying “Oh it is all too hard, and all the result of poverty” is a cop out.

The principle of Child Harm Prevention Orders I have no problem with. But I think there is a legitimate debate about whether they should only be available against people who have already been convicted of crimes against children. If the Government wants wider eligibility they would need to have very persuasive data to back up their case. But that is an excellent issue for a select committee to consider.

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