READER REPORT:

Can't 'cure' child abuse

GRANT MAGRATH
Last updated 11:00 19/06/2014

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Facing our greatest shame

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How can we change New Zealand's appalling family violence statistics? Grant Magrath says we need to spend money, to save costs and lives in the long run.

Child abuse and domestic violence are not just symptomatic of poverty. I believe that there is a cycle of abuse passed on through lack of parenting skills.

You hear politicians and the Sensible Sentencing Trust going on about harsher penalties, locking people up and throwing away the key, but how is that helping the next generation in the cycle? It's not.

In years gone by, society was very judgmental, and guilt and shame were used to control behaviour. Societies would unite against perceived wrong doers, sometimes unjustly so, and the people on the receiving end would be shunned and shamed. The mere thought of that would keep people on the straight and narrow.

Somewhere down the line, we evolved. Call it political correctness if you must, but society softened its attitudes.

More and more people became marginalised, and abusive behaviour became normalised in those groups. Now, we have to undo the damage that has been done to society by the acceptance of such behaviour as normal.

How?

I firmly believe that education is the answer. We must show children that there's a better way, that what they are experiencing is not acceptable.

Plant the seed of doubt in their minds.

Educate them to be great parents.

It will cost money to put such programmes in place, and some will naturally balk at the cost. But like all investments, it will take time.

The benefits down the line will be huge; healthier children that grow into healthy adults. That's money saved on health.

Less crime. There would be a huge saving in the cost of prisons and the court system.

The money saved would far outweigh the cost of putting an education system in place.

What would it consist of? That's for people way more qualified than me to answer, but the perfect analogy is the old ambulance at the top of the cliff.

Prevention will be far more effective than failed cures we have presently. 


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