Child welfare – history may judge us harshly

child welfare

“I suspect history might judge us quite harshly,” Children’s Commissioner Judge Andrew Becroft told Newsroom’s Shane Cowlishaw.

“We judge those in the Victorian era of having a very crude approach to child welfare … well I think a lot of what we’re doing right now might be judged as almost (as bad)…,”

  • In the past 25 years, the number of children living in income poverty has doubled.
  • About 10 percent of children in the general population have dyslexia, while for their counterparts caught up in the justice system it’s as high as 32 percent.
  • Those in trouble with the law are also about 10 times more likely to suffer from foetal alcohol syndrome.
  • Maori children are five times more likely to live in crowded housing, twice as likely to be living in poverty.

Becroft said our knowledge of learning difficulties and behavioural disorders is growing, but we still “see through a glass dimly,” and he worries about those labelled disruptive who are really just struggling, with little help.

“I think we will have a revolution of our understanding of our young people in the next 20 to 30 years, especially from the criminal justice point of view.”

Becroft also finds it bizarre that it is difficult to question the decision of a school’s Board of Trustees.

“It’s concerning that at the moment there’s no realistic way of challenging a Board of Trustees’ decision short of going to the High Court … I mean if Super 15 rugby players can have appeals heard within a week or two, you’d think that our kids deserve no less a service.”

On Wednesday prime minister Bill English announced $321 million from this month’s budget to go into a social investment programme targeting the most vulnerable sectors of society where he says an early and bigger intervention can save taxpayers money in the long-run.


Additional reading

News category: New Zealand.

Tags: ,