Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Feckless Solutions

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  • Glenn Pearce,

    OK then, what's the answer to the problem Russell ?

    I read the post expecting the ending to lay out your solution to the problem.

    In the end it's just a rant attacking every right leaning article you read in the papers over the weekend.

    Auckland • Since Feb 2007 • 504 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie,

    We hear a lot about breaking the cycle of violence. But when it comes to beneficiary bashing by pollies and pundits it seems that anything goes. Basically if we all agree a nurturing loving family environment is a good way to bring up kids, why would a nurturing loving society not have similar effects?

    Oh, wait, there's "no such thing as society", is there?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1645 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    OK then, what's the answer to the problem Russell ?

    I read the post expecting the ending to lay out your solution to the problem.

    I did say I was trying not to pretend I know more than I do, but I think my point was that there isn't "a solution" in the sense offered by those columnists. This isn't a new problem, and it's foolish to declare a quick fix. I'm not going to slime the people at the coalface like Jim Hopkins did.

    The trial of the hospital admissions screening programme -- which aims to pick up all kinds of family violence -- seems to show promise. Cindy Kiro keeps saying she's seeing a sea-change in public attitudes over these cases -- people contacting her office for information, or looking to help. I hope she's right.

    I've participated in a major anti family-violence campaign that will launch soon - it was delayed so additional support could be arranged around it. I hope that will play its part.

    I also hope the autism support site I'm launching tonight will help some kids. People born ASD are more vulnerable, and more likely to end up hurt or in prison than many others.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • WH,

    At the risk of stating the obvious, people aren't just born with the skills they need to be good parents. Some individuals will have lifestyles and learned behaviours that will ensure they are very poor parents.

    There must be some way of linking the welfare, education and child intervention systems to compulsory parental classes and additional oversight and assistance for at risk families. If this is linked to welfare payments so be it.

    Seriously, what kind of a terrorist puts a baby in a tumble drier.

    Since Nov 2006 • 797 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    There must be some way of linking the welfare, education and child intervention systems to compulsory parental classes and additional oversight and assistance for at risk families. If this is linked to welfare payments so be it.

    Sure. And you might even find the degree of coercion required is quite low.

    Seriously, what kind of a terrorist puts a baby in a tumble drier.

    One who sees violence as a normal part of life, I think.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • WH,

    One who sees violence as a normal part of life, I think.

    A friend who works who works with offenders says you wouldn't believe how badly many were mistreated as children. Its the only thing that stops me from demanding that this tool's head be put on a pole.

    Since Nov 2006 • 797 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    I don't read Jim Hopkins for the simple reason his prose style is practically unreadable.

    The most depressing message you get from all these outraged spokespeople for the middle class is the "us" and "them" approach they adopt. I heard some women on the radio saying she was sick of child abuse being called our problem, since it is clearly a Maori problem. I never knew Maori were not a subset of us all. And never mind the minefield of imposing proscriptive and punitive solutions on a group still suffering the after effects of colonisation. Does Michael Laws actually want John Howard's heavy handed cultural imperialism? The only person who said anything sensible was Hone Harawira, and I was much stuck by his statement - "First of all, Maori MPs have to own this. Never mind pointing the bone at anyone else, and never mind the platitudes." I only differ in saying we ALL have to own this. Child abuse is one of those issues that requires all of us to reject violence against children and all of us to get off our chuff's and report where we see it happening and confront it the supermarket and shopping mall where we see it being committed.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    This goes on to some extent everywhere in the world (and as Russell points out, child abuse is *three times* as prevalent in the low-welfare USA). There aren't any quick solutions.

    I'm not sure if Hone Harawira's plan to "lock [all the Maori MPs] away in a barracks down Waiouru ... and don't come out till we come up with a solution" has come to fruition yet. They will be very old and grey when they finally emerge. Still, maybe it'd be good to have a new generation of Maori leaders as a result of the existing ones recusing themselves indefinitely.

    In the end, child abuse will only *reduce* as people get better education, a stable income, decent housing and a positive attitude to life. The only thing politicians can really do is to promote that, not scrabble around for quick fixes that will probably be counterproductive.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Oh, wait, there's "no such thing as society", is there?

    Well, Don, abstract collective nouns don't rape, abuse and murder children and to be quite blunt I don't blaring headlines like "Society's Shame' are much of a contribution to meaningful change either.

    A friend who works who works with offenders says you wouldn't believe how badly many were mistreated as children.

    Oh yes I could, Weston. I've seen in my own whanau people who've had childhoods that, to put it politely, you wouldn't wish on your worse enemy in the world. And I revere these people for their rather scary determination not to do it all over again. At the risk of Godwin-ing this thread early, it's the same question that ran through my mind (and I couldn't answer) after seeing a documentary about Simon Weisenthal at the film festival - how could the architects of genocide and someone like Sophie Scholl co-exist?

    Explain that to me, and I think we're a lot further along than any number of facile columns and editorials.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Raymond A Francis,

    I do not see why we all have to own this problem and go on a guilt trip
    But I di think we need to look for sensible solutions
    And taking children away from the percieved "bad parents" is not a track we should go down, it is just so stupid

    I think the hospital questions is a good start, compared with some of the things they do to you there that is small beer

    My "big idea" is to put more money into the Plunket Nurses so that they can do more visits and have more time with young families
    I am from a middle class background (or worse) but when our sons were young remember the plunket visits as a bit scarey but so helpful
    Any reasons why this will not help

    45' South • Since Nov 2006 • 578 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Fitzgerald,

    I hadn't wondered where Jim Hopkins went after his diner chats at CTV stopped. Marc Alexander was his cook & Andrew Merts was a star & they had a meal and a yarn, nothing much, nothing much at all.
    He was targeting Robs Mob with this article, not a reinvention but the real thing. To wildy jump from abused babies to 80yr old hip replacements drawing on the fears of abuse many the elderly have.
    The only thing missing was the word senior from his A Citizen sign off.
    How can anyone advocate starvation as a cure for abuse?

    Did love Michael Laws talking about peoples fitness to parent & how's his fitness to be a lawyer going at the moment?

    Since May 2007 • 631 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie,

    In the meantime, power companies are still cutting people off accidentally. This time communication skills and lack of money are not to blame.

    My point, Craig, is that society as represented by these sort of companies and people Russell quoted is uncaring and vicious. We should not be surprised at some of the results.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1645 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    child abuse being called our problem, since it is clearly a Maori problem

    1. Every citizen of this country has benefited from the systematic alienation of Maori assets into the hands of private citizens and the state. To the extent that there is a specifically Maori problem with violence against children (as if Pakeha never beat the shit out of their kids) I think colonisation is a better explanation than anything else, and the people who benefit from colonisation have an obligation to deal with its consequences.

    2. Enlightened self-interest. We all live on the same islands, it's in nobody's interest to have brutalised kids growing up to be brutalised and violent adults who threaten everyone.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • 81stcolumn,

    Seriously, what kind of a terrorist puts a baby in a tumble drier.

    Bored, Low Self esteem, doesn't feel in control of their own life and has learned not to value that of others.

    Nawthshaw • Since Nov 2006 • 790 posts Report Reply

  • djb,

    Great and sensitive post Russell.

    Surely those who are doing the outraged "anyone doing that to a baby is shockingly unfit for being in care of an infant" are stating the obvious. The problem comes from the way the media's focus on the obviousness of the symptom creates a demand for "solutions" to the "crisis", the tougher the better for the middle class who have no idea what it is like inside that kind of a family.

    So Glenn Pearce et al could have a think about their own need for a "solution" and what it might look like, because appealing solutions such as "reducing welfare" and "being tougher on crime" have never worked, while what does work is improving intergenerational income and education attainment levels (a much slower thing to change, therefore not so useful for selling papers or getting voted into office). The media use these kinds of tragic events for selling papers but hardly do much to support a more informed public... good thing we have PA, then.

    In social policy we always do well to remember H.L. Mencken - "For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong."

    Since Dec 2006 • 9 posts Report Reply

  • Jo_Eggers,

    I suffered physical and emotional abuse as a child/teenager and I grew up in a middle-class, pakeha, 'respectable' family.

    Luckily for me there was enough of a sense of self and some really great friends in my 20's that helped me get the therapy I needed (and still do).

    This emphasis on hitting the welfare class for their poor parenting skills does make me angry. People from all walks of life hit and/or otherwise abuse their children. Some manage to hide it better than others. The solutions have to cover everyone - not just one group.

    I wish I could offer some solutions so that others in my situation don't have to suffer like I did. Good role models, parenting classes, various type of outreach programmes, violence detection chips implanted in every newborn (only joking)?

    For my part, I'm looking at mentoring kids. A small step and only changing a life at a time but it might make what I went through, mean something.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • Ian MacKay,

    There is a solution that seems so simple that it would be ridiculed. Keep saying "We don't hit people." or "People are not for hitting." This in any setting: home, school, church, street, Parliament or everywhere. This is such a simple message and if it is said often and is demonstrably true, by modeling that it is true, actually works. It does not need long explanations, nor does need debate or the handing out punishments. It is the way we live! We don't hit people!

    Bleheim • Since Nov 2006 • 498 posts Report Reply

  • Danyl Mclauchlan,

    Does Michael Laws actually want John Howard's heavy handed cultural imperialism?

    What Laws is suggesting sounds like it would be pretty similar to Australia's 'Stolen Generation' policies. I think he'd regard Howard as a bit of a softie.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 927 posts Report Reply

  • Glenn Pearce,

    "djb"

    You are perhaps confusing my criticism of Russell's post as implicit support for Michael Laws et al.. Wrong.

    I'm interested in hearing everyone's ideas for potential "solutions" to the problem.

    What I don't like is the way this issue just becomes a talkfest with no real action. I think Steve Braunias may feel the same judging from his interview with Cindy Kiro in the weekend paper.

    I hear you about the media and selling papers, but I'd like to think I'm smart enough to see through that, the number and gravity of cases being reported does make me feel this is more than some sort of media "beat-up" (excuse the poor taste pun)

    For what it's worth, I think at least part of the "solution" may lie somewhere in the attitudes of NZ society to alcohol, easy access to cheap booze, licensing laws, binge drinking, advertising etc. etc.

    Auckland • Since Feb 2007 • 504 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Fitzgerald,

    how could the architects of genocide and someone like Sophie Scholl co-exist?

    Am I the only one who got F*%k off with Sophie Scholl?

    A member of Hitler Youth who didn't believe in it, but dutifully played her part as another face in the crowd.
    If the movie is to be believed she was given a couple of outs by which to save her life & didn't. That really pissed me off.

    Since May 2007 • 631 posts Report Reply

  • Danyl Mclauchlan,

    _-None of them seem unduly troubled by the fact that Nia Glassie's mother, Lisa Kuka, was not a beneficiary. She worked long hours in a kiwifruit factory in Te Puke; six days a week, leaving the house at 5am and sometimes not returning until 10pm. For $600 a week.__

    Doesn't she know she could have been getting millions of dollars a year on the DPB?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 927 posts Report Reply

  • WH,

    People with liberal perspectives are likely to view our child abuse problem as a systemic failure. People with conservative perspectives are likely to view child abuse as a failure of individual responsibility. Social policy deals with the former, criminal law deals with the latter, and maybe this explains the split in reaction. It seems to me that both types of failure are present in child abuse cases.

    I tend to think we need to find a way of giving our parents the skills they need to cope with raising a family, and a way of protecting the most vulnerable from unacceptable risk of harm. I guess the question is how?

    Since Nov 2006 • 797 posts Report Reply

  • InternationalObserver,

    Seriously, what kind of a terrorist puts a baby in a tumble drier.

    One who sees violence as a normal part of life, I think.

    There doesn't even have to be violence, as another poster mentioned. Today's younger generation have been de-sensitised, IMHO. Yes, boys have always played with toy guns but most of them grow out of it. Not so anymore, they just move on to more 'advanced' (ie gory) shoot 'em up video games. 10,000 kids can play these games without consequence, but it's the one who blows a synapse in their brain somewhere that is going to cause a problem (and I don't mean 'going postal' - that's extreme).

    There have always been nutters and psychopaths in our communities but these days it seems that every kid has access to a wide range of information/entertainment that may not be suitable for their age. They can't really deal with it, but 'do' by becoming more nihilistic. (And yes, I'm aware every generation thinks their teens are more delinquent than they were).

    This is what is so sad about the most recent reported case. When Nia was hung on a clothesline and 'spun dry' no-one present said "this is going too far". There are no longer any boundaries, so of course it was logical the next step would be to actually put the child in a tumble drier. I have no doubt (altho' I'm not psychic) that when confronted by the cops these abusers would have initially just shrugged and suggested it was no big deal.

    I posted a clip on "Our Tube" (headed 'Child Abuse?') which shows some Texan young adults who also don't know what is appropriate care for a 3 y.o. so I believe it's a generational problem, not a NZ problem. Like RB I don't have a solution, and like the right wing pundits I'm still at the something needs to be done!! stage.

    Obviously we need to change attitudes, and fast. Why is that some poor countries 'tolerate'/encourage sex tourism, and yet their equally poor neighbours don't? It's because in one country they shrugged and said "what can you do?", and in the other they said "this is wrong, we won't stand for it".

    Since Jun 2007 • 909 posts Report Reply

  • Lyndon Hood,

    child abuse being called our problem, since it is clearly a Maori problem

    Seeing as nobody else has said this here that I notice...

    A factual problem with that is that it's not just a Maori problem and any group claiming to be immune is flying in the face of statistics.

    Further, I haven't looked, but if it's anything like other crime stats, then the racial component of one's offending risk - as opposed to other factors like economic status and history and so on - will be small enough not to bother with.

    Tangential to some other discussion, one of the results that came out of the Otago multidiscipilinary study was one the question of why a lot of abused children grow up to be normal adults and some don't. Apparently there's a gene that accounts for much of the variation. I don't really know what to make of that but it isn't of course to say there's nothing to be done.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1115 posts Report Reply

  • Span .,

    On the issue of Plunket nurses, we have one in the family and she works in Otara. One of the biggest problems she faces, in accessing families in need to give them support, is transience. If people could afford decent housing, and afford to stay in that decent housing instead of having to move all the time, then that would make her job a lot easier.

    Also a lot of families are hard to find when they do move - and that is deliberate. Because they have debts that they cannot pay they don't register on the electoral role (meaning they also cannot vote) or make it well known with social agencies where they are going.

    This facet of it comes back to lifting income levels - something I don't see a National govt delivering anytime soon.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 112 posts Report Reply

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