Speaking up against the abuse of children
Ethan Best is saddened by parents who neglect and abuse their children.
So the 12-year-old boy gave up his Saturday morning to join a crowd of 20 people gathered with placards outside the High Court in New Plymouth, as part of a global protest raising awareness on violence against children.
Ethan said he was supporting children who "don't get a long life". "It makes me feel sad," he said. "Abuse is bad."
The peaceful protest was organised by non-profit organisation 4thekidz, and chairwoman Carolyn Cragg said on average, in every five weeks, a child in New Zealand dies an "unnatural death".
The organisation has also produced a 24-page booklet, The Lost Children, containing a list of names of children who had been abused or murdered.
"It must stop," Cragg said. "While we need harsher sentences, we need education and support just as much because a dead child can't speak and an abused child won't."
The small turnout was slightly disappointing for Cragg, who had sent out 197 emails to various organisations and individuals, informing them of the event.
But the emotional Cragg said she was there for the young boy who liked rainbows and for the girl who loved pink and butterflies.
And also for the child in her own neighbourhood who was at the centre of a "heartbreaking case" a few weeks ago.
"The child had lice, scabies and other skin infections and under nourished," she said.
Cragg was abused as a child and grew up being "scared of the opening of the door, scared that the booze bottle was empty, scared of the mental abuse".
"That child went on to be a damaged adult," she said. "No skills, married, widowed, thinking being the tough mum was the right way."
Retired police inspector Harry Nicholas said children were born free of sin. "It's a shame we have to lose some of them," Nicholas said.
Salvation Army lieutenant Susan Adams said "abuse happens in all sections of our community".
"We love our community and want to see it as a safe place for kids."
Cragg believes education from a young age is key to putting a stop on violence towards children.
Changes may not happen tomorrow, she said. "But they do happen."
Taranaki Daily News