Kindergarten teacher saves child from abuse
The severe abuse of a 3-year-old girl ended when a kindergarten teacher saw her legs were bruised black and blue.
The detective who investigated says it's one of the worst cases of child abuse he has seen in his 11-year career.
If the kindergarten teacher had not intervened the girl might have been killed, he says.
The case highlights the importance of people keeping an eye out for the warning signs of abuse.
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Police have recently been involved in a series of workshops with principals and early childhood education leaders in Christchurch they believe have contributed to an increase in reports of concern.
The 3-year-old girl was beaten by her mother, Krystal Kuru, and her boyfriend, Michael Miles, at a home in Christchurch over several days in late 2014.
The couple were unhappy because the child would not sleep through the night and was keeping them awake.
They repeatedly hit her with their hands and a plastic ladle and Miles also hit her with his work boot.
Text messages between the couple revealed they wanted to hurt the child.
One from Miles read: "She can cry all she likes. It won't stop me." He later said the child would "be getting it till she stops".
Detective Simon Keith said the abuse was discovered when the child fell over and hurt herself at kindergarten.
As she pulled down her tights to look at the injury a teacher saw her legs were "black and blue".
"If that had gone unchecked that's definitely a case that there could have been a homicide," Keith said.
At the Christchurch District Court in December, Kuru and Miles were sentenced to 22 months' jail.
They'd earlier admitted intentionally injuring the girl.
According to police data, 11,616 child abuse cases were opened across New Zealand from July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015. More than 1100 of them were in Canterbury.
In recent months, police, the Ministry of Education and Child, Youth and Family have run several workshops with principals and early childhood education leaders in the region.
The sessions aimed to educate those working with children about child abuse and how to report concerns.
Detective Senior Sergeant Sarah Illingworth, officer in charge of the Canterbury child protection team, said the case of the 3-year-old girl showed how important it was that everyone, especially teachers, did not turn a blind eye to warning signs.
Illingworth believed the workshops, coupled with media scrutiny of the issue, had contributed to an increase in reports of concern about children to police in the district.
"We have got an appalling track record in New Zealand. It's everyone's responsibility to make sure our kids are safe. People know that this stuff goes on and they need to do something about it."