Child protection programme goes international

HARRY PEARL
Last updated 05:00 01/05/2014

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A successful child protection programme developed in Hamilton will be centre stage at a prestigious international child abuse conference in Japan.

Anthea Simcock, chief executive of Child Matters, has been asked to give a paper about Buddy Day at a conference organised by the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect in September.

The conference in Nagoya draws hundreds of international experts in the field of child protection each year.

Simcock said the conference's theme - Towards Child-centred Societies - fitted the concept of Buddy Day well, and would be a good platform to talk about what had been learned from the programme. "It's really exciting to be able to represent New Zealand and it's a unique event that I don't think is done anywhere else in the world."

Since it was launched in November 2011, Buddy Day has gone from strength to strength and has outgrown its Hamilton roots.

Each year hundreds of cardboard cut-out "buddies" are dressed, decorated and given names and stories by children. The life-size cut-outs are then adopted by adults who look after the buddies for the day.

Simcock said she thought Buddy Day had been a success because it was a novel and non-threatening way to get communities to engage with a difficult subject.

It also encouraged children to talk about what it meant to be a good buddy, Simcock said.

"If we can get our children learning from an early age that actually you don't have to mind your own business when someone needs you, we could change some of the norms in society."

She said the project was not about disclosure of abuse, it was about reaching out to someone that was in trouble.

Registration for Buddy Day 2014, which is open to children and adults in Hamilton, Auckland, Tauranga and Wellington, opens in June.

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- Waikato Times

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