We have been made aware of the shameful level of Family Harm in New Zealand. Media awareness, anti-violence campaigns, educational services, political speeches, fundraising events, open conversations, television advertising, giant billboards and even little ribbons worn all in the hope Family Violence will end.
As we have discussed, children under five years old, particularly our infants and newborns, are most at risk of violence and maltreatment in New Zealand. A shameful and devastating truth. Those who choose to act violently towards others especially our children MUST stop, and they MUST be held accountable for their actions. An adult has a choice, a child does not. In 2019 there were 87,260 Reports of Concern (ROCs) made to Oranga Tamariki. Of this number 41,733 required further action (FARs). What happens when the perpetrators of violent child abuse are found guilty of their shocking crimes then our Justice system gifts them sentences that ignore the true value of a child’s life?
Case One – January 2020
A two-month-old baby girl suffered three incidents of shocking violence by a young father because the baby was causing him stress and he resented having to take care of her! The baby suffered 23 fractures to her ribs after intentionally being violently squeezed. She suffered breaks to her right elbow, right wrist and knees after swaddling her with intentional force. She suffered facial and head bruising after punching his daughter in the face. No medical treatment was sought for the little baby. The offender was sentenced to two years and three months in prison. At the time of his sentencing the Judge noted the father showed no remorse for his violent behaviour.
Case Two – March 2020
Two six- week-old twin boys had their legs fractured after a 30-year-old man (who has name suppression) intentionally grabbed one leg of each baby and forcefully pulled and squeezed.
One of the babies suffered two fractures to his right leg. The second baby suffered a fracture to his left leg. The offender did not seek medical treatment. The offender received a sentence of ten months home detention!
Case Three – March 2020
A four-year-old boy had his leg broken in two places after his 25-year-old uncle snapped. The little boy was sitting behind his uncle when they were travelling in a car. The little boy was kicking the uncle’s front passenger seat. The uncle became angry, he then threw/pushed his seat back so forcefully it broke the young boys left tibia and fibula bones. The offender was sentenced to five months community detention.
All three offenders were charged with causing Grievous Bodily Harm (GBH) with Reckless Disregard. A serious violent charge that carries a maximum sentence of ten years in prison. As you can see by the three cases above, our New Zealand justice system has forgotten that our innocent children are also our most vulnerable of victims.
The focus on the ‘importance’ of the offender needs to change. Our children deserve better!
– Karrin Coates
Waikato Victim Advisor of SSGT
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