Violence against Children​​

— Skylight Trust

Every child has the right to a childhood free from harm. It’s never okay to use violence to lash out at, control, discipline or punish children or young people.​

New Zealand rates of child violence are unacceptably high.

On average, a New Zealand child dies every five weeks because of violence. Children under 12 months old make up most of this statistic, and 90% of the time they have been killed by a parent or family member.

In 2015, there were 6,491 recorded instances of common and serious assaults on a child.

Most violence against children happens within their close family, or extended family. However, it might happen anywhere. It may not be obvious that violence is happening. Others might know about it but choose to keep it a secret or are too frightened to tell.

What are the signs of violence against children?

The signs include:

  • more than would normally be expected in terms of bruises, welts, cuts, or abrasions
  • dressed in a way that hides injuries
  • the child is regularly kept home 'unwell’
  • unresponsiveness or difficulty focusing, possibly due to a head injury
  • developmental delays, such as physical coordination or speech issues
  • hypervigilant, jumpy, on alert – ready to protect themselves, or others
  • highly anxious
  • suspicious and mistrustful of adults or older children/teens
  • strong emotional reactions to everyday situations, such as extreme fear, anger, blind rage, or deep sadness
  • anger management issues - aggressive to others
  • low mood, possible depression
  • low self-esteem and decreased confidence
  • difficulty concentrating – poor learning, low academic achievement
  • difficulty developing and keeping friendships
  • avoiding punishment (violence) by being extremely good – very anxious if they make mistakes
  • keen to check on the whereabouts and safety of siblings, or of vulnerable parents/relatives
  • avoiding going home, or avoiding school.

If a parent, carer or older sibling/child:

  • is vague how a child’s injury was caused
  • changes the story about the injury
  • blames injuries on an accident caused by someone else, even by the victim
  • is seen to shake a baby or child
  • threatens violence as a discipline or punishment
  • is violent to a child in front of others
  • avoids getting medical help for an injured child.

The effects of violence can last a lifetime.
The physical scars on the outside may heal – the emotional scars on the inside may not.

It’s Not Okay-Family Violence

To keep a child safe from violence – what to do

If you want advice and information to stop violence in your family
I want to Help

If you want help to end your own violent behaviour
I need Help

What to teach a child so they know what to do to keep safe:
Family Violence- Children
Safety Planning

If you suspect a child is a victim of violence by an adult or an older child/teen it is very important to contact your local Police station or Oranga Tamariki (Ministry for Children) and talk to them about your concerns as soon as possible.

Contact your local Police : In an emergency dial 111

Contact Oranga Tamariki: Phone them on 0508 326 459 at any time of day or night.

Contact Shine: Phone 0508 744 633. Shine also offers some Shine Kids support for children affected by violence

People who report suspected abuse are protected by the law. Police and Oranga Tamariki need to know about your suspicions so they can investigate, even if you're worried you might be wrong.

Never let violence against children go unreported.
All children need love, care, and protection from harm.

If you ever think a child, or family, is in immediate danger from violence, call the Police on 111

Resources Available at Skylight

Skylight is here to help you through difficult times. We can assist you in a variety of ways with information appropriate for your situation. You are welcome to visit us and receive free information and a support pack from our resource centre and borrow books from the specialist library. We also facilitate Professional Development training and offer Counselling support services for children, young people, family/whānau and individuals who are experiencing tough times.

Request a Pack Library

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