The mind is willing but the wallet is weak

Strike me down with a feather. Danyl at the Dimpost seems to be getting cynical about the official response to NZ’s abnormally high rates of child abuse.

This isn’t a new problem, and New Zealand politicians have spent a long time insisting that ‘someone must do something’ – well, there are actual, proven policy solutions to the problem of endemic child abuse. Our MPs are ‘someone’ and they have billions of dollars and incredible scope to do ‘something’. But so far as I can tell, no one in New Zealand is even looking at these solutions.

Danyl picks the issue, but seems to miss the territory.

A few months ago at the Well Child forum at the Wellington campus of Otago Medical School I listened to similar howls of frustration about NZ’s continued exceptional child statistics. Numerous wonks bobbed up out of their seats, paused briefly to introduce their identical-sounding NGO/interest-group name, before laying into the lack of government interest in addressing the problem. The take-home message: evidence-based solutions have been available for fifteen years, we simply don’t care enough to invest in them.

Instead we get the current minister slotting the Green Paper into the electoral cycle. It’s asking us tough questions about mandatory reporting: clearly the minister believes child abuse can be solved if only the teachers, doctors and social workers in our world be stopped from conspiring to conceal it.

Bennett’s media strategy dovetails the Green Paper’s focus on reporting with white-knighting of individual cases of abuse, all but ensuring her department wont engage with systemic (read: expensive) solutions. No wonder people within the sector express so much frustration.

I’m not the first critic of the point of the Green Paper – see Stuff for cogent words from Annette King and The Met.

For Danyl – Turei in particular is one to watch. I know sneaking into the back row of the Well Child political forum to watch crowd reaction to various party’s manifestos on child wellbeing isn’t a scientific guide, but there wasn’t a lot of contention floating around whenever she opened her mouth…


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