OPINION: Another month, another dead Maori child. In a country well used to appalling child-abuse statistics, the conviction of Joel Loffley for the murder of 2-year-old "JJ" Lawrence still has the capacity to shock.
All the usual ingredients are present: ethnicity, welfare dependence, drugs, previous violence and the feral boyfriend. But there is another ingredient that we often overlook - the feckless and useless mother who sets up her child for harm.
A jury determined Joel Loffley's fate. A man consumed by cannabis, crime and a nasty propensity for violence and domestic abuse.
But it is the mother - Josephine Lawrence - who should now attract our attention.
Because she should have been standing beside Loffley in the dock and, based on her own sworn evidence, seems significantly responsible for her son's death.
Lawrence observed the repeated endangerment of her son: she did nothing.
Women such as Lawrence are the reason why there are so many dead Maori children, and why there are so many abused Kiwi kids. They are the enablers - delivering their children to the abuser like a human sacrifice. And there are so damned many of them.
A recent Women's Refuge/SPCA initiative yet again tried to excuse the behaviour of these maternal monsters. Their ridiculous campaign, suggesting women stay in violent relationships that involve their children - because of the pets - is risibly wrong.
These women stay because they are stupid and because, ultimately, they don't care about their kids. And they require not the sympathy of the sob sisters, but shame and prosecution. They are not mothers worthy of the word.
Josephine Lawrence is one such individual. There was already something wrong with her in choosing JJ's father as her mate. A criminal with a significant record and banged up in prison at the time of his son's murder.
But what does she do for her next partner choice? Chooses Joel Loffley. And moves him in despite a violent record with previous partners, an addiction to drugs and a palpable disdain and dislike of her son. In his reptile brain, the progeny of another man.
Many New Zealand mothers are endangering their children with their choices of mates. Instead of giving them a hug when things go wrong, we should be asking them only one question: "What were you thinking?"
One can also observe such dereliction in the Kaitaia child-abuse cases: the victims almost exclusively Maori boys preyed on by paedophiles because of their level of whanau dysfunction. The dereliction of maternal duty seems equally staggering.
There are new initiatives - one between the Government and northern iwi - to tackle the scandalous rates of Maori child abuse. But simple messages can go out now - and especially to Maori mothers.
Start putting your kids' needs before yours and satisfy your duty before your urges.
And, if you do introduce your child to bad men, then anything that happens is your fault too. You are their mother: If you can't handle the job, stop breeding.
- Sunday Star Times
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