At the weekend there were marches around the nation for a boy called Moko, who was brutally murdered in almost torture like circumstances by his caregiver. The details of the treatment that he sustained and the non-response of those who could have saved him was shocking. Perhaps most shocking of all though is the fact that this is not the first time it has happened, and unless New Zealanders collectively and individually step up and stop it, cases like that of Moko will continue to afflict New Zealand.
There have been some absolutely shocking cases of domestic violence in New Zealand, and of child abuse. And all too frequently the two go hand in hand. In the case of little Moko, there does not appear to have been any domestic violence, so much as it was a brutal and sustained attack by supposed caregivers on an innocent child who had done absolutely nothing to deserve this callous violence. But in others, as shown in the 1994 movie Once Were Warriors, which is about a dysfunctional Maori family where the mother realises the only way to stop the domestic violence in her household is to move her and her children out, which happens but not before a dreadful price is paid.
What bugs me about it all is how people can think that putting children in clothes dryers and turning them on, as happened in one case and taking turns in another case in egging the other abuser on, is in any way acceptable to start with. It is not. It was not. But we seem awfully reluctant to come out and say so loud and clear.
We demand inquiries, which the politicians duly give us. We march in protests. We talk, talk and talk some more. Parliament has the odd debate about it.
But how many lives has all of this paper and hot air saved? None. It didn’t save Moko. It did not save Baby Lillybing, or the Kahui twins. Before we write another report, before we have another debate and another march, let us actually implementing some of the recommendations from the wads of paper reports that must be sitting somewhere. How many of them ever had any of their recommendations implemented?
And let us do two other things whilst we are at it:
- Require caregivers to tell the police if they see any child abuse being committed against any child in their care, and to co-operate in full when police investigations are underway
- Look at the feasibility of denying the right to care for or give birth to children for those convicted of child abuse that resulted in jail time
Extreme? Perhaps, but no worse than having another innocent child die on our watch.