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Child Abuse Prevention in New Zealand: Legislative and Policy Responses Within An Ecological Framework

ABSTRACT The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate that one way New Zealand's high prevalence of child abuse can be reduced is by the government increasing the legislative and policy responses within an ecological framework, to child abuse prevention. This is because such responses would ensure a 'best practice' approach to child abuse prevention. This 'best-practice' approach is one where child abuse prevention measures are community-driven, child-centred, multi-disciplinary and inter-sectoral. Section 1 of this thesis will provide a background on the different types of child abuse, why child abuse occurs and what the consequences of child abuse are. This section will also cover some current statistics on the incidences of child abuse in New Zealand. Additionally, there is a discussion on how child abuse is increasingly being minimised within a family violence paradigm - even though family violence is only one form of child abuse. New Zealand does not have a good track record when it comes to its rates of child abuse. Section 1 is intended to give the reader a very clear picture of how children in New Zealand are not currently being protected adequately enough from child abuse. This protection should be coming from the adults in their lives, in their community and in their nation. Section 2 of this thesis outlines an ecological framework for child abuse prevention. More specifically the way in which such an ecological model is operating presently in New Zealand, at particularly an exosystem (community) and macrosystem (national) level. The second part of this section discusses factors which will ensure the 'success' of an ecological framework for child abuse prevention. By 'success' the author is referring to a framework in which the primary outcome is the prevalence of child abuse in New Zealand is reducing. Section 3 of this thesis will contain the substantive arguments of this paper. New Zealand does currently have in place legislative and policy responses to child abuse prevention. However, the author maintains these responses to date have not been sufficient because New Zealand's rates of child abuse continue to escalate. This section consists of 19 recommendations of legislative and policy responses that could be implemented at a macrosystem/national level. At the conclusion of the recommendations contained in this thesis, it becomes clear that the government does need to respond urgently to New Zealand's growing child abuse rates. New Zealand can no longer afford to have a reactive, ad-hoc approach to child abuse. Nor can the response at a macro level continue to be one of rhetoric where there is more talk on child abuse prevention than there is on activating, monitoring and funding practical solutions. It is the author's contention that if the government considered the interests and welfare of children as paramount in legislative and policy decisions that relate to children, then this will send a strong and clear signal to the adults in childrens' lives that children are not to be abused. Instead, children are to be nurtured, respected and cherished in every way.
Type of thesis
Cutler-Naroba, M. (2006). Child Abuse Prevention in New Zealand: Legislative and Policy Responses Within An Ecological Framework (Thesis, Master of Laws (LLM)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/2514
The University of Waikato
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