24 Nov 2008

CYFS referrals more than double in five years

4:24 pm on 24 November 2008

The number of referrals received by Child, Youth and Family regarding concerns for children or young people has more than doubled in the last five years.

Official figures show CYFS received 93,296 referrals this year, more than 20% above last year's figure, and a marked increase from five years ago when 42,886 notifications were received.

Despite the rise in referrals, the number of notifications requiring action by the Government agency has dropped in the last year to 44,436.

CYFS said the rise in referrals reflected an increase in community awareness and of the high profile anti-family violence campaign, "It's not ok!".

Dr Hone Kaa, from child advocacy group Te Kahui Mana Ririki, says the increase is encouraging and shows the campaign and the work of social agencies is having an impact.

But he says there are still some who are ignoring the signals of abuse.

Barnados chief executive Murray Edridge says the increase in referrals does not necessarily mean there has been a rise in violence.

Mr Edridge says the figures show there's a growing awareness in the community that child abuse is unacceptable.

But, he says it seems this country doesn't regard children with the same respect that other countries do, and that too often New Zealand children are regarded as an inconvenience.