15 Apr 2015

NZ child abuse death rate 'uncivilised'

2:25 pm on 15 April 2015

The Government needs to provide parents with more advice and support to reduce the number of children being killed by mistreatment, children's charity UNICEF says.

A child's hand holding an adult's finger (file photo)

Photo: 123RF

It says between seven to 10 babies in New Zealand die from mistreatment each year.

Yesterday, Hamilton man Charlie Lackner, 33, was sentenced to at least 15 years in prison for murdering his eight-month-old son.

The judge said there was too much violence inflicted on young people by those who should be looking after them.

Ian Hassall, a paediatrician and the country's first children's commissioner, said this country's rate of killing children was worse than many others.

He said other places have a much stronger set of customs and values.

"I think we're a bit of a wilder country in that respect. You might say we're uncivilised. We don't have that strong culture and custom of care for people that we live with."

A UNICEF report in 2003 showed that, during the 1990s, New Zealand had an average child mistreatment death rate of 1.2 per 100,000 children (aged under 15) per year - the third highest out of 27 countries measured.

Read the UNICEF report (PDF 268KB)

The charity's national advocacy manager Deborah Morris-Travers said the rate of children killed by mistreatment could be reduced.

"What is missing is that the government has not invested in significant programmes to equip parents with knowledge about child management and child behaviour and development."

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