When hide and seek is a dangerous game

By Wright Communications

Most young children enjoy the thrill of playing hide and seek. For those in violent families, however, it's a deadly game.

Andrew*and his siblings got used to climbing out the window and hiding outside until their dad stopped beating up their mum.  Sometimes they had to pull dad off mum to stop him strangling her.

Andrew's story is not unusual. Nearly seven Kiwi kids are involved in family violence incidents reported to the police every hour of every day. [1] Every five weeks a child is killed by a family member. [2]

New Zealand has the fifth worst child abuse record out of 31 OECD Countries [3] and family violence costs every man, woman and child in New Zealand $1833 every year. [4]

Today, Family Works Northern is launching a major campaign to help keep children like Andrew safe in their own homes. Throughout October, dubbed 'Angel Month', Family Works Northern is calling for more 'guardian angels' to donate to Family Works services. Donations can be as little as $1 a day.

Family Works Northern provides counselling, social work services, budgeting advice, and parenting programmes for children and families throughout the upper North Island.  Services are partially government-funded but demand means there is a funding shortfall every year.

Guardian Angel donations will go directly to providing the sort of wrap-around services that helped Andrew and his family overcome the effects of abuse.

Family Works Northern service manager Liz Thomas says there are many more children like Andrew whose lives are profoundly affected by violence.

"Family Works helps 15,000 at-risk children and their families every year - 40 people a day. Family violence and conflict are high on the list of the reasons for referral, along with poverty," says Ms Thomas.

"Many of the families we see are overwhelmed with the complexity and stress of the obstacles they face - whether that's financial hardship, poor housing, alcohol and drug use, or mental health issues.

"We know that these things can create huge stress for families, which can spill over into family violence.

"Children may be physically abused but they can also experience emotional abuse and neglect which seriously impacts them as they grow up.

"In some families, violence has been normalised in day to day life. We're seeing more and more inter-generational violence." Ms Thomas says.

Ms Thomas says the Angel Month campaign appeals to ordinary Kiwis to make a difference for children like Andrew who live in fear of their lives, hiding from family violence.

"Family violence occurs in every neighbourhood. It's a huge issue, but everyone can do something to help children feel safe in their own home. You don't need wings to be a guardian angel for a child in need," Ms Thomas says.

To become a Guardian Angel, visit www.angel.org.nz or call 0800 2050 80. To find out more about Family Works Northern's services, visit www.northern.familyworks.org.nz

About Family Works and Presbyterian Support Northern

Family Works Northern supports at-risk children and their families to help them address complex issues like violence and conflict. Family Works Northern is part of Presbyterian Support Northern, an independent charitable social services provider which operates throughout the upper North Island, strengthening New Zealand families as they face life's challenges.  www.northern.familyworks.org.nz

*Name has been changed.


[1] http://www.nzfvc.org.nz/sites/nzfvc.org.nz/files/data-summaries-snapshot-2014.pdf

[2] Statistics drawn from Family Violence Clearing house Data Summaries, June 2014.

[3] http://www.childmatters.org.nz/55/learn-about-child-abuse/facts

[4] http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/314009/family-violence-funding-call


Latest News

Get in Touch

Give us a call, send us a message or call in and see us.  We’d love to hear from you.