Anti-child-abuse marches part of awareness campaign

MONICA TISCHLER
Last updated 05:00 04/04/2014
Jeanine Perkinson
Monica Tischler
SPEAK OUT: Jeanine Perkinson will lead a protest to help make a stand against child abuse.

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Anti-child-abuse advocate Jeanine Perkinson is among those staging protest marches today in Auckland, Taranaki and Tauranga as part of an international awareness campaign.

She is the founder of V.O.I.C.E NOW, an online movement set up two years ago in response to New Zealand's alarming abuse rates.

Members are joining supporters of another group, 4thekidz, in the Worldwide Peaceful Protest Against Child Abuse and Millions March Against Child Abuse events.

Eighty-nine cities across the globe are involved.

Perkinson will be part of the Auckland protests starting in Queen Street at 11am.

She says she's has seen the detrimental effects child abuse can have on a family and wants to intervene and change the mindset of society.

''Dead children can't speak and abused children won't,'' the mother of five says.

''It's up to the living to make sure we treat our children like valued assets.''

Child abuse can be physical, sexual and emotional.

New Zealand has one of the highest rates of physical abuse in the world and one of the worst rates of child death by maltreatment within the family.

V.O.I.C.E NOW, or Violence On Innocent Children Ends Now is a Facebook page where communities and families input toward change.

Perkinson says there are already signs that attitudes to abuse are changing but there is still a long way to go.

''Someone sent me a message saying 'I've learned other ways of disciplining my children', and to hear that makes it all worthwhile,'' she says.

''The seed was planted in me and it's my responsibility to make sure it grows into a strong, healthy and self-sufficient tree.

''We need to change society.''

V.O.I.C.E NOW and 4thekidz are pushing for harsher punishments and legislation for child abusers through a petition.

The organisations also want the right help offered to abusers so they don't reoffend.

''Child abuse is intergenerational,'' 4thekidz chairwoman Carolyn Cragg says.

''We have to work with families to lead them to the right decision and a better way of living."

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