23 August 2013
Key Notes: Protecting vulnerable children

Protecting vulnerable children

Key Notes: The Prime Minister's newsletter

Protecting vulnerable children

As Prime Minister, I want to see every one of our children getting the very best start to life. They deserve nothing less.

New Zealanders have had enough of children being killed, abused and neglected. You've asked us to take action, and we are.

Last week, we announced a number of big changes that will build on our progress so far. We're introducing legislation that will see better government accountability, better screening and vetting of people working with children, and better guardianship and child protection laws.

It begins with leadership. We're making the heads of five government departments - the Ministry of Social Development, Education, Health, Justice and the Police - accountable for protecting and improving the lives of vulnerable children.

They will all have new responsibilities and child protection policies, which will have a direct impact on every frontline staff member working with children.

Any person employed by the Government who works with children will be screened and vetted. People with serious convictions will be permanently restricted from working closely with children.

And we're getting tough on people who abuse children. We will introduce Child Harm Prevention Orders that can be placed on adults who pose a serious risk to children, to prevent them from interacting with children at all.

And where abusive parents go on to have further children, they will have to prove they are fit parents, or their baby will be removed. 

We're also giving our courts the ability to step in and restrict the guardianship rights of birth parents in extreme cases, so abusive parents who have had their children removed cannot disrupt the children's new, safe and stable home.

We know some of these changes will be controversial. They're bold, and we make no apologies for that. We're determined to give our children a better start to life, so that's why we're putting them first.


John Key
Prime Minister

www. johnkey. co. nz

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Click here to watch my video on the importance of protecting our children.



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#1 - Cliff Parfitt 2013-08-23 17:01 - (Reply)

It's great to see these changes and the protection given. Only those parents or caregivers that break the rules regarding care will this affect, They will miss the special privilege and gift each parent/caregiver is given in the bring up of our children. Well done to the Govt, thank you for standing up.

#2 - Andrew Atkin said:
2013-08-23 17:45 - (Reply)

I sincerely respect your courage in confronting this issue - and with realistic policy moves. For the ultimate objective of human well-being, child abuse really is the No1 issue of our time. One thing though. Over time you will find that you will need to restrict breeding rights for many people. One of the big problems of our modern society is that we let absolutely anyone have as many kids as they like, and we directly support them (through our welfare system) to do as such. Even if they're a complete mess and injecting hard drugs into their veins, etc! Removing a child from its mother is a chronic trauma in its own right. It's a "mixed" solution. Not to say it (sometimes) shouldn't be done, but with people who have been exposed to chronic trauma themselves (in childhood) there is good argument that they should not be having children. It's a tough and incredibly politically-sensitive call, obviously, but a lesser of two evils nonetheless I believe. Should we stand back and let children be born into hell? Is the status-quo really acceptable?

#3 - Barbara Fray 2013-08-23 18:14 - (Reply)

I think that it is good to punish people who abuse children. I take care of a 30 year old girl who was abused as a child and when I look at her and think that she could have been living a life with family of her own. No one has the right to take that from any child, however what do you call abuse. Smacking a child should not be abuse. That is correction and helps the child to grow up with security and respect, knowing that there are boundaries. Children today, have no respect for their parents, teachers, police or themselves. They know that they can get away with everything because there is no punishment. A smack (not in temper)is instant and the mind is not being played with. Beating a child to death or being cruel to anyone especially verbally is so destructive. I think that we call it bullying now but it could be anything that involves overpowering to gain self supremecy.

#3.1 - Andrew Atkin said:
2013-08-24 18:07 - (Reply)

Barbara: If smacking a child is done in anger, I can assure you it is abuse. Also, I think if you have to teach a child to be good, then they're not. A lot of the controls we put onto children exist, ultimately, to compensate for a more primary problem. Eg: Lot's of people think broken homes come from people not getting married and making strong (albeit abstract) commitments. This might be true, in terms of effective behaviour control, but the controls may only be masking a deeper problem associated with 'normal level' deficiencies in pair-bonding. The latter has more to do with removing the baby from the mother immediately after birth, and a mothers inability to love her child in a real way because she is too busy trying to compensate for her own deficient childhood (I'm keeping it simple). Children that are truly well taken care of don't need to be taught too much. They are and will be *inherently* good natured. THAT is what we want to go for!

#4 - Shawket Dawood 2013-08-23 21:00 - (Reply)

Children should be protected from being placed with same sex couples. Recent legislation give equal right in marriage to same sex couple that includes adopting children. How could we allow people who chose not to be productive to adopt? How could a child grow normally in a family where there is no mother and no father?

#5 - Natalie 2013-08-23 22:11 - (Reply)

Thank you Barbara Fray, and I agree - the tough stance on child abuse is fantastic. I highly commend the government for taking this seriously. And I also agree, along with more than 80% of New Zealanders that smacking is not abuse - that should be returned to the reasonable force legislation it once was, so that discernment can be properly applied by police and judges when you begin to enforce these new laws. Parents who give their child a smack on the bottom or hand for good reason should never feel threatened by laws designed to root out the real culprits of abuse, but that is what the anti-smacking legislation does. Abusers are still beating their children, molesting them and neglecting them - your new laws ought to target those real culprits, not generalise terms to include good, self-controlled parents under the umbrella of those who use "physical force". I bet half of the parents in parliament have smacked their own children when raising them. How then can they, in good conscience, effectively criminalise the next generation who are just like themselves (unless of course we should arrest and charge them?)? Effectively the anti-smacking law calls my parents, my grandparents, my in-laws - almost every fantastic parent with great kids and a loving home that I have ever met - "child-abusers", which is an out and out lie. Please fix it, it's broken.

#6 - Colin Hitchcock 2013-08-24 08:08 - (Reply)

I think its a good start, but parents who abuse children should NEVER be allowed to have more children EVER no matter what it takes !.

#6.1 - Andrew Atkin said:
2013-08-28 21:02 - (Reply)

Well Colin, I kind of agree, but you're looking at somewhere between 20% and 40% of the entire population. Not kidding.

#7 - Richard 2013-08-24 14:12 - (Reply)

If you're serious about protecting kids you are going to have to call a spade a spade. The habit of apportioning countrywide blame won't work. It's not OUR problem, it's specific groups within our community's problem. Target the culprits. Handwringing and national guilt achieve nothing. Labour found that out during their term, they too were scared to point out the obvious.

#8 - KEN BRAINES 2013-08-25 08:09 - (Reply)


#9 - Helen 2013-08-25 11:33 - (Reply)

I agree with National's approach. It is important, however, to keep the child's wishes and needs central. The main thing is to stop the abuse, not to take the child away from its parents, particularly if there are no alternatives acceptable to the child.

#10 - Dianne 2013-08-26 07:10 - (Reply)

Excellent to see child abuse being addressed. Well done John.

#11 - Robyn 2013-08-26 23:30 - (Reply)

Please John Key stop these scum bags selling synthetic weed in R18 shops!

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