15 Apr 2015

Child abuse deaths reducible

10:50 pm on 15 April 2015

A domestic abuse charity says the number of children killed in this country could be reduced if communities took more notice of what happened behind closed doors.

Official figures show New Zealand has a death rate of 1.2 children per 100,000 children a year.

Former Children's Commissioner Ian Hassall said New Zealand's rate of killing children is worse than many other countries.

A spokesperson for Shine, Jill Proudfoot, said deaths could be avoided if people intercepted abusive behaviour early on.

Mrs Proudfoot said she was astonished at the number of people who attend children's funerals, yet didn't take steps when the child was alive.

She said New Zealanders tend to turn a blind eye to other people's parenting, but this needs to change.

However, the children's charity Unicef said New Zealand's history of strict parenting is contributing to the high death rate amongst children.

Unicef's national advocacy manager, Deborah Morris-Travers, said New Zealand could learn from Scandinavian countries.

Mrs Morris-Travers said those countries have a tradition of positive parenting and respect for children and the job of parenting.

She said the so-called anti-smacking law is a good start, but there is a lot more than could be done to reduce the child death rate.