Alf has an idea (and a damned good one, too, even if he says so himself).
It’s aimed at getting a better deal for at-risk kids after a United Nations committee expressed concern over shortfalls in the rights of New Zealand children, including “staggering” infant and child mortality rates.
Alf is not too strong on this bollocks about giving children more rights, now that too many of the brazen little buggers use the rights they know they have to commit serious crimes and assault their teachers.
But he is bothered about cases like that reported yesterday and today about a badly abused girl whose parents face a raft of charges.
It seems the girl has been thrashed for a long time.
On the other hand, an admiring Alf observes, the SPCA yesterday rescued hens from a shed at the back of the now-empty Mt Albert house where two people died violently last week.
Mind you, the Herald’s account is remarkably spartan.
That’s as much as we are told about the hens by the feather-brained scribes at the NZ Herald.
How many chickens? Dunno.
What sort of conditions were the living in? Dunno.
Have they been given sanctuary somewhere or were they handed over to Tegel? Dunno.
Having given us just one sentence about the SPCA’s rescue of the hens, The Herald simply recalls that last Friday, Zhuo “Michael” Wu and Yishan “Tom” Zhong were killed in the $2 million mansion.
And the 52-year-old unemployed Chinese man charged with stabbing the two men will be named at midday today.
Oh, and there’s a picture of some hens (not necessarily the rescued ones).
But here’s the thing: it has taken a week from the time the bodies were found on the property to the time of the SPCA’s intervention.
That’s a helluva lot better than abused children can expect.
And so Alf proposes that child welfare responsibilities be handed over to the SPCA.
The egregious shortcomings of the current system are illustrated by the dreadful story about an abused nine-year-old girl discovered by police with injuries to almost every part of her body.
But dammit, the warning bells had been clanging right through the child welfare system and all the way to the prime minister’s office (although maybe it was mistaken there for the bells that call all MPs, including the PM, to the House).
It transpires that the girl’s mother wrote to the PM with a cry for help months before the discovery of her daughter’s injuries.
Details of the letter emerged yesterday as Social Development Minister Paula Bennett announced a high-level inquiry into how early signs of the worst case of child abuse she had seen fell between the cracks and agencies failed to take early decisive action.
Alf suspects his good mate Paula has some answering to do, too, because the PM buck-passed the cry for help to her.
She responded to it, but we don’t know how. Maybe she (or a lackey more like it) wrote back to say thank your for your letter, we will be looking into the matters you have brought to our attention.
But we are a government that gets things done, and what we are doing now is having an inquiry conducted.
Oh, and we have rounded up a few family suspects and charged them.
The girl’s parents, who have name suppression to protect her identity, face more than 35 charges between them.
Another family member has been charged with sexually abusing the girl.
The Herald reports Ms Bennett as saying the girl’s mother wrote to the PM seeking help around the middle of last year.
Mr Key referred the letter to Ms Bennett, who said she responded to it.
“It was pretty evident that the mother was showing concern and was actually hiding what was going on,” she said.
But she could not comment further as the letter could come out in the court process.
And the girl?
She was taken into Child, Youth and Family custody on November 15 after police found her hiding in a cupboard at a West Auckland house.
Her scalp had been torn away from her head because she had been dragged by her hair, she had been beaten with weapons including a hammer, a broomstick and a machete, and one of her toenails had been pulled off and salt and boiling water poured on the wound.
The girl’s father has pleaded not guilty to the charges, and her mother is yet to enter a plea.
The mother’s defence lawyer, Lorraine Smith, is aware of the letter to the PM’s office and says there is “a lot more to this case than meets the eye”, which is pretty apparent from the information set out above.
Meanwhile at the United Nations, New Zealand is getting a bad press yet again.
A namby-pamby bunch of do-gooders who comprise the UN committee on the rights of the child has been meeting with Government representatives in Geneva to examine our performance on child rights.
Typical of these outfits, the committee talks a lot of bilge.
The committee found that while the majority of children were living well and in a safe and protective environment where their rights were respected, there were areas where improvements were needed, including areas of serious concern.
The committee noted that, although many laws had been passed, children were “fairly invisible” in legislation and regretted that the age of criminality had been lowered for some cases.
The committee obviously has not been robbed or beaten by the brats.
On the other hand, Alf is keen to find out what happened to the public money that was or should have been pumped into the case of the battered girl whose mum wrote to the PM.
The 12 agencies involved with the girl’s family include Child, Youth and Family, Housing NZ, doctors, mental health workers, and caregivers.
The inquiry will be led by former Ombudsman Mel Smith.
It will investigate matters including the extent to which the agencies shared information and collaborated.
It is instructive that –
“Every available resource was provided in this case, including some of our most expensive and trusted intervention models for at-risk families, yet a child suffered appalling abuse and I want to know why,” Ms Bennett said.
So every available resource was provided – but the girl was let down.
The chooks got a much better deal, which is why Alf reckons we should extend the SPCA’s brief to care for our kiddies.
The only negative he can see is that the SPCA can be a tad extreme in disposing of pets for which it can find no home.