Backing sterilisation will bring more blue votes (probably) than urging help for mum with a record

So how long will this go on for, and how many state-run children’s homes will be needed to cope with the consequences of Oriwa Kemp’s fecundity?

Oh – and by the way – will the aforementioned Oriwa Kemp ever get a chance to demonstrate that maybe she can bring up her children without the need for state intervention?

Those are among the lofty questions tackled over the Grumbles’ breakfast table this morning, while we ploughed our way through the Sunday newspapers.

Oriwa Kemp, if you don’t happen to know it, was banged up for a while for cruelty to Rotorua toddler Nia Glassie.

Nia (see here)

…was subject to extensive physical abuse for weeks, maybe months, before being admitted to hospital and dying of brain injuries on 3 August 2007. The court concluded she had been kicked, beaten, slapped, jumped on, held over a burning fire, had wrestling moves copied from a computer game practiced on her, spat on, placed into a clothes dryer spinning at top heat for up to 30 minutes, folded into a sofa and sat on, shoved into piles of rubbish, dragged through a sandpit half-naked, flung against a wall, dropped from a height on to the floor, and whirled rapidly on an outdoor rotary clothes line until thrown off.

Various prison terms were imposed on the guilty parties, including a life term for Oriwa Kemp’s partner, Michael Curtis, whereas she was found not guilty on manslaughter charges but was convicted of child cruelty. She was 18.

We can argue about whether she was banged up for long enough, after she produced two sprogs in the past two years. Both have been removed from her grasp and parental influence.

Kemp is reported as saying that handing over her daughter just a couple of hours after she was born in North Shore Hospital last week was traumatic.

She reckons she is being discriminated against because of her past.

That’s the trouble with what we do in the past. It is apt to colour what authorities might do in the future, especially in a society that has become somewhat impassioned about stemming our shabby record of child abuse.

The story about Kemp’s thwarted parenthood is told at Stuff:

The state has seized the newborn baby of one of New Zealand’s most notorious convicted child abusers – the second time in two years it has removed a newborn from her care.

What you should make of this might depend on your political leanings.

One right-wing lobby group says Oriwa Kemp, jailed for cruelty to Rotorua toddler Nia Glassie, should be offered money to be sterilised, but a former Women’s Refuge head says she has a right to have children and Government agencies have failed her.

But Kemp’s track record gives plenty of cause for disquiet about her potential for being a wonderful modern mum.

Stuff recalls that Kemp was 18 when she was sentenced to three years and four months imprisonment for cruelty to Nia, 3, who died in 2007.

She gave Nia cold baths, hit her when she cried and was present when the toddler was swung on a clothes line and placed in a clothes dryer.

Kemp was released on parole in mid 2009, just five months after being jailed, a decision that caused outrage at the time. However, she was recalled to prison in 2011 for breaching the terms of her parole. She was pregnant with twins but miscarried while in prison.

Child, Youth and Family last month was granted a custody order in the Family Court in Morrinsville, where Kemp sometimes resides, for her unborn baby.

CYF staff, accompanied by security guards, arrived at North Shore Hospital last week to take the child.

CYF also took a baby boy from Kemp when he was born in late 2012. Her oldest child, fathered by Michael Curtis, who was convicted of Nia’s murder, is also in CYF care.

Those moves came after Social Development Minister Paula Bennett announced a database system which would predict which children were most at risk of abuse, even before they were born.

Wow. We have a database system that can predict the risk of child abuse.

Maybe we could try to adapt it to predicting the weather, earthquakes, employment growth and whether National will win the election this year.

As for Kemp, Alf is bothered by the idea that what she did when she was a teenager should influence how the government treats her now.

She said she felt she could never escape her past, even though she had tried to improve her life and do the parenting courses she had been ordered to undergo.

“I’m doing what I have to, I’m trying. I’ve done them [courses] over and over again.”

She says she believes she can provide a safe environment for her children.

Whether she deserves a second chance is the issue.

Alf is apt to urge caution when officials claim (as a Ministry of Social Development spokesperson has done) that the decisions to uplift children are taken in the best interests of the family, although in this case it does seem to have been done with the co-operation of Kemp’s wider family.

“This occurs in very serious situations where it is determined that there are no other options for ensuring the infant’s safety.”

Garth McVicar, of the Sensible Sentencing Trust, said sterilisation sounded barbaric. But he also said “realistically, there is no other solution” because Kemp was not taking accountability or responsibility.

But former Women’s Refuge chief executive Merepeka Raukawa-Tait asks why CYF is not helping someone to come back and make a go of it.

The Grumbles disagree which side is correct, but Alf is fairly sure he knows which position will bring him more votes.

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