Education is key to identifying child abuse. Abuse against children is not diminishing - but the reporting of it is.
Although New Zealand once had a very powerful voice in addressing child abuse, over the last 20 years or so the focus in reducing acts of violence has favoured women more and more over other groups. Like the elderly and the disabled, children's pain is no longer at the forefront of New Zealand's violence reduction programmes.
Child abuse isn't just physical violence. It may be facing constant criticism, being degraded, or feeling fearful at home. It could be failing to receive medical care, being left alone unsupervised, or receiving excessive discipline. It might also be inappropriate touching, or adults initiating sexual conversations with children. Most child abuse occurs within the family environment but it can happen anywhere - at school, in the larger community, or online. The signs of child abuse are not always obvious, and abuse frequently goes undetected and unreported.
Many of the programmes addressing violence reduction in recent years purport to address abuse against all people, but in reality focus heavily upon reducing men's violence towards women, or women as victims. Women make up the majority of domestic carers however, and are more likely to be the offender rather than the victim of much of the domestic abuse perpetrated on the vulnerable.
If you're worried about a child and want to make a referral or report of concern, call Oranga Tamariki on freephone 0508 326 459. Lines are open 24/7, or
(Note that from 5pm to 8am Monday to Friday, weekends and public holidays, social workers will usually only assess emergency situations)
If you believe a child is in immediate danger call Police straight away on 111