(A number of people privately and on the blog have said this matter needs a wider hearing hence the release below)
MSD DOWNPLAYS LINK BETWEEN WELFARE STATUS AND CHILD ABUSE
Friday, 30 August, 2013
The Ministry of Social Development (MSD) has released statistical
information that details the overlap between children's contact with
the benefit system, and care and protection or youth justice
Welfare commentator Lindsay Mitchell is welcoming this overdue
research. "The last time MSD conducted a similar exercise was 1996
so an update was well overdue. This time the Ministry has followed
the 1993 birth cohort to age 17 to explore levels of contact.
Unfortunately, the data is presented in a way that downplays the
risks. The benefit cohort is only ever compared to the overall
cohort as opposed to the non-benefit cohort. This produces
a finding that the benefit cohort had a likelihood of contact with
CYF that was, '1.5 times that for the overall cohort.'
However, if the non-benefit cohort was the comparison group, the
likelihood would rise to 3.4 times.
When MSD examines children on a benefit for 9 or more years who have
experienced a substantiated finding of abuse or neglect, they
describe the risk as only three times greater than the total
population cohort. Again, if this benefit cohort was compared to the
non benefit group the increased likelihood rises to nearly 13 times
Mitchell goes on to express her disappointment that MSD then claims
the association is about low income, not benefit status. "This makes
a mockery of analysing the overlap data. Essentially MSD has written
off the correlation between benefit status and increased risk of
abuse to low income."
"What MSD needs to do is compare similar groups of low income
children with differing sources of income ie from work or a benefit,
and their respective contact with CYF.
In the mean time these findings show why welfare reforms aimed at
reducing long-term benefit dependency are so important for the
safety and well-being of children."
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