Anglican Trust for Women and Children head urges action over child abuse
There's no excuse for turning a blind eye to child abuse, Judy Matai'a says.
The Otahuhu-based Anglican Trust for Women and Children's chief executive is calling for action after the violent death of 3-year-old Taupo boy Moko Sayviah Rangitoheriri.
"I don't want New Zealand to become immune to that sort of story so it's treated as just another statistic and then we all move on," Matai'a says.
Moko's two caregivers, aged 43 and 26, pleaded guilty to his manslaughter and will be sentenced on June 27.
The court was told Moko was stomped on, bitten, dropped on the floor, kicked, thrown, had faeces rubbed on his face and was denied medical care.
Matai'a says warning signs of abuse might be seen in how a child interacts with adult members of the household.
"Watch how the child reacts when someone walks into the room or when they hear an adult's voice. They invariably know when they feel loved and listened to and you can see it in their behaviour."
People who know or suspect a child is being abused must fight the fear they'll be thought of as nosey, Matai'a says.
"I get that people don't want to be stigmatised but we can't just sit back and do nothing. Nobody wants to be the person who didn't act."
Matai'a says there are numerous ways for people concerned for a child's safety to report it, such as through a school social worker.
"They're a soft and non-discriminatory way of entry into the problem and child support agencies can talk to the child's parent or caregiver."
Matai'a says New Zealand's child abuse statistics must change. Everyone she's spoken to about what happened to Moko feels "disgusted" by it, she says.
"I'm really disappointed in society that we're still not getting the message out there and we're still not putting things right."
National child advocacy organisation Child Matters says New Zealand has the fifth worst child abuse record out of the 31 OECD countries.
A Kiwi child is killed every five weeks on average.
Phone Child, Youth and Family on 0508 326 549, or the police on 111 if a child is in immediate danger.