Moko’s death leads to call for ALL children to be monitored by the government

Moko Rangitoheriri

The coroner investigating Moko Rangitoheriri’s horrific death from severe child abuse has called for all children to be compulsorily monitored by government agencies until they are five years old. While there is a case to be made for monitoring at-risk families, monitoring all New Zealand children is a step too far no matter how well-intentioned the idea is.

[…] The Coroner has already compared the three-year-old’s death to one of country’s worst child abuse cases. Moko died in 2012 after spending two months with Tania Shailer and David Haerewa in Taupo.[…]
His injuries included lacerations and haemorrhage deep within his abdomen which caused his bowel to rupture. Faecal matter leaked into his abdomen, causing septic shock.

In findings released today Coroner Wallace Bain repeated a finding from another infant’s death – that of Nia Glassie who died in 2008.
He recommended all children should be registered with government agencies and health providers to allow monitoring to occur.

“That monitoring to include scheduled and unscheduled visits to the homes where young children are living so that the monitoring will ensure that they are kept safe and then provided with the necessities of life,” he said. “That has to apply with even more force today.”

Had the recommendation been in place for Nia or Moko there would’ve been a better chance of Moko’s situation being identified and removed, Coroner Bain found.
If social organisations had monitored they would’ve found Shailer “in distress with depression and mental issues and assaulting Moko, another caregiver recently released from jail with a history of domestic violence….”
He noted a number of “red flags” including the old Child Youth and Family not visiting the toddler.
In a statement a spokeswoman Glynis Sandland for the new ministry for Vulnerable Children Oranga Tamariki said compulsory monitoring “suggests a multi-agency approach is required and that is something for the government to consider.”

The government should not consider it as an overworked and overstretched system failed Moko and by increasing their workload to include children who do not come from at-risk families they will make it much more likely that more children like Moko and Nia will fall through the cracks.

Despite the coroner’s report, the  Children’s Commissioner will not back a register to monitor all children.

[…] In the findings released yesterday, Dr Bain says too many opportunities to help Moko were missed by several agencies in the months leading up to his death.
Ten years ago after the killing of Nia Glassie, he recommended that all children be registered from birth with government agencies. Another 94 children have died in that time.

Dr Bain says whatever the cost, child abuse has to be stopped and a register could save lives.

But Children’s Commissioner Andrew Becroft says it would mean nothing unless the services delivered were high-quality and effective.
He says agencies like Well Child Tamariki Ora and Children’s Teams already exist, and it would be pointless to “reinvent the wheel”.

“That’s why using and expanding existing services is a better immediate first step, and ensuring that they’re well trained.”

Judge Becroft says to end violence against children, government agencies needed to work alongside highly trained community agencies.

[…] But Merepeka Raukawa-Tait, the former head of Women’s Refuge, says the equivalent of three classrooms of children have died since Nia Glassie.

“We can’t be precious in this instance, we have children dying, and they’re dying regularly.

“This is a major recommendation out of a coroner’s report, surely this time it’s going to be acted upon.”

Ms Raukawa-Tait says it did not have to become a negative programme.
She says community groups would need to deliver services because families did not trust government agencies.

Arama Ngapo-Lipscombe is the lawyer for Moko’s mother Nicola Dally-Paki.

She would back a register but adds a word of caution.

“There will be a fear that it’s used to prejudge, prejudice, predetermine and that will lead to professionals making judgements without taking into account a person’s circumstance.

“There is a risk they will look at the register and profile them.”

The only people who should be on a register should be people who have been “profiled” because of their history of drug abuse, domestic abuse, child abuse, child neglect, mental illness etc. Why monitor every family when the most efficient use of time and resources is to monitor those families most in need of support? The child abuse statistics make it clear that child abuse affects more Maori than non-Maori. We do the memory of Moko no favours by pretending that this is not the case.

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