A report has found that almost one in four New Zealand children have been reported to child protection services.
The report, Cumulative Prevalence of Maltreatment Among New Zealand Children, by Auckland University of Technology researchers followed children born in New Zealand in 1998 until the end of 2015. Overall 55,443 children were followed.
“We found that almost one in four children had been subject to at least one report to child protection services at age 17 years,” researchers Rhema Vaithianathan and Bénédicte Rouland wrote in the report.
Meanwhile, almost 10 percent had been a victim of abuse or neglect.
“Half of the neglect substantiations occurred by age six years, whereas the medians for emotional abuse, physical abuse, and sexual abuse were nine years, 11 years, and approximately 13 years.”
Around three percent of children had experienced out-of-home placements by age 17 years, with boys being more affected.
Researchers also wrote that Māori and Pacific children suffered from higher levels of deprivation and poor health than the general population of children.
On completion of the report, the researchers found child maltreatment was more common in New Zealand than is generally recognised.
“Given the large number of children who touch the child protection system, our findings raise questions as to whether our child welfare systems are resourced and organised appropriately,” researchers wrote.
Children's Commissioner Andrew Becroft says child protection is a crucial issue for government in the coming years.
He says the creation of the new Ministry for Children, Oranga Tamariki, will put more emphasis on prevention and more resources will be offered to help Māori children.