3 Sep 2009

New measures to help prevent child abuse

9:14 pm on 3 September 2009

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett has announced new child abuse prevention measures, including the re-launching of a campaign against shaking babies.

About 23 babies are hospitalised each year in New Zealand because they have been shaken, with 55% of those permanently damaged or killed.

The last Never Ever Shake a Baby campaign was 15 years ago and Ms Bennett says it is clear the message has not yet got through to some.

The minister says there are people who reach a level of frustration with inconsolable crying and shake a baby - not realising the long-term permanent damage they can do.

Other measures announced include a new community-based service to follow-up on families with under two-year-olds where there has been an incident of domestic violence.

The service will be trialled in Auckland. A violence prevention group will provide a crisis service for families where police have been called to family violence.

Child protection organisation Jigsaw says the follow-up service is vitally important.

It says without intervention, children traumatised by domestic violence will carry emotional and psychologically hurtful experiences with them throughout their lives.

Women's Refuge says the organisation has long recognised the importance of following up on low-level incidents and intervention at an early stage can be a life-saver.