Getting CYF to take action 'frustrating'

JODY O'CALLAGHAN
EDUCATION REPORTER
Last updated 05:00 12/10/2012
Sandra McCallum
CRAIG SIMCOX/The Dominion Post

CYF IMPASSE: Mt Cook School principal and Wellington Primary Principals Association president Sandra McCallum.

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Reporting child abuse is a priority, but getting Child, Youth and Family to take action can be "frustrating" and where the system falls down for the child, a school principal says.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett yesterday launched the White Paper for Vulnerable Children, outlining plans to raise awareness of child abuse and neglect and urge people to report it.

In particular, the Government wants those working with children to take more responsibility.

But teachers and doctors spoken to yesterday said reporting was a priority.

Mount Cook School principal and Wellington Primary Principals Association president Sandra McCallum said it was putting a "sticking plaster on the problem".

Her school took a hard line on reporting abuse and neglect, and the paper would make not "one iota of difference" because organisations did not work well together once it was reported.

"I often reach an impasse when I get to the CYF point. I have to go into huge battles to get things to happen. . . . The outcomes in my experience are often minimal."

Naenae College principal John Russell said his school had proactive policies. Secondary schools generally had good support systems to deal with suspected abuse cases.

"We don't hesitate on reporting stuff. Our first job is to make sure the kid is safe, be it at school or at home."

But it was good that when the school forwarded information, there would now be a general database to integrate between services.

Taita College principal John Murdoch had no problem reporting abuse or neglect, but he needed confidence that other services would then step in to give quality solutions. "That's where the money needs to go."

Newtown GP Dr Jonathan Kennedy said doctors took action on suspected child abuse. "How it's implemented will determine its success."

Managing the information system could be a challenge, in particular with privacy and ensuring the right people had access to it.

Porirua GP Bryan Betty said it was becoming easier for doctors to report cases, and they were usually responded to quickly.

They looked for injuries and stories that did not match, analysed a child's interaction with their parents while in the surgery, "failure to thrive" growing problems, and used common sense and intuition. "But it became fragmented after that".

Children's Commissioner Dr Russell Wills was satisfied the paper would address gaps in care and protection of children, particularly collaboration between social, health and education sectors.

Related story: Bennett rules 'might have saved' Sage

Contact Jody O'Callaghan
Education reporter
Email: jody.o'callaghan@dompost.co.nz
Twitter: @miss_jodyo

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- The Dominion Post

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