Students tackle child abuse through cartoons
Criticism and opposition won't stop a group of senior high school students from confronting the issue of child abuse.
Five students from Auckland Seventh-day Adventist High School are launching a cartoon series targeted at 5 to 11-year-olds as part of their entry into the Lion Foundation Young Enterprise Scheme. The cartoons aim to create more awareness among children about staying safe, and give them the tools to deal with abuse.
Their company, LilyBSafe, was inspired by a toddler who died in 2000 as a result of child abuse.
Hinewaoriki Karaitiana-Matiaha, known as Lillybing, was 23 months old when she died of a brain haemorrhage after being violently shaken by her aunt.
The child also received other injuries, including a scalding facial burn, in the days leading up to her death.
LilyBSafe general manager Grace Latu says the group chose child abuse because of Lillybing's story, and the worrying rates of abuse in the country.
The 17-year-old says the group has faced negative feedback from people who "think it's better if [child abuse] is not talked about".
But everyone in the group is passionate about social change and won't let criticism stop them from working towards their company objectives, she says.
"We know preventing child abuse entirely is unrealistic but it helps just saving one life."
School head of social sciences Shirley Upton says the students have only just started the project and have yet to write the cartoon scripts but she's already impressed by their work.
"They are really passionate about it."
Upton says the next steps will include speaking with doctors and child psychologists, and fundraising.
Social Development Minister Paula Bennett and National list MP Alfred Ngaro visited the students last week to discuss ideas for the project.
The Lion Foundation Young Enterprise Scheme sees year 12 and 13 students set up and run their own business for a year. The students have a chance to be in the running to win the Lion Foundation Young Enterprise Company of the Year.