26 Jun 2014

Report highlights abuse of tamariki

8:00 am on 26 June 2014

Maori children are five-and-a-half times more likely to die of abuse and neglect than children of other ethnicities, according to a new report released on Thursday.

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Photo: 123RF

The fourth report from the Family Violence Death Review Committee found 139 people died from family violence and family violence-related homicides from 2009 to 2012.

It also revealed that Maori adults were 4.9 times more likely and Pacific adults 5.3 times more likely to be responsible for child abuse and neglect deaths than adults of other ethnicities

Committee member Ngaroma Grant said tamariki needed to be made a priority in order to stop violence against them.

Maori themselves needed to challenge the normalising of violence in whanau and needed to think of the child rather than themselves.

Violence in Maori communities was present to a degree people just did not hear about, Ms Grant said.

The report recommended calling on organisations to take more responsibility for preventing abusers from using violence and said organisations currently put the onus on the victims of family violence to take action to keep themselves and their children safe.

The report found difficulties victims of family violence faced in keeping themselves safe could be particularly extreme for some Maori women, with many dealing with serious levels of victimisation and social entrapment, extreme economic deprivation and high levels of historical and inter-generational trauma.

The committee which published the report demanded a radical change towards family violence and a stronger collective response to family violence from the police, the justice system, support services and the general public.

It also recommended legal changes to protect the victims of family violence, including those who retaliated against their abuser after years of violence.