Children suffer consequences of parents actions

By Regan Paranihi

Oranga Tamariki has launched an investigation following various social media post that appears to show adults feeding alcohol to a baby.

While the nature of this concern is rare for the government agency their investigation process remains the same.

Oranga Tamariki Deputy Chief Executive, Alison MacDonald says, "It's so important that no matter how small it seems, that we do follow up every concern that everybody has to make sure we keep children safe."

CEO of Ngā Maia Māori Midwives Aotearoa, Jean Te Huia adds, "It's not right for a parent to be providing alcohol to young children, especially young babies. I think that breaches all mannerisms of health and safety for the child.

But obviously there’s some urgent need for that mother or parent to be educated about the harm that they're doing to their child."

Throughout the investigation process, MacDonald says Oranga Tamariki try and involve the whole family.

"We try then to look through what we know about the family, or what we know about that child. Then what we do is seek out whanau around the child, to work with them through how we might support that family."

However, working more thoroughly with the family can unearth other concerns.

"There can be much more to it and we need to work with them. So we don't kind of have a set period for investigation," MacDonald says.

Te Huia adds, "Parents themselves don't really fully understand the consequences of their actions in providing alcohol to children. Their brains are too immature.”

While there's a major backlash on how Oranga Tamariki undertakes their investigations Te Huia says that sometimes it is the only option for them to intervene.

"In some cases, there is no alternative but then to have whānau support the family and to assist by having children taken from parents who are unwilling to provide safe environments for children."

She also says that alcohol has long term effects on infants and children.

"There's evidence to suggest that children who have fetal alcohol syndrome are more likely to suffer from abuse and to be the victims of abuse and to have long term negative health outcomes."

Oranga Tamariki will continue to investigate the concerns that have been raised.