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Children's Safety Comes First

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Children's Safety Comes First

Jigsaw Family Services is calling on New Zealanders to put our children's safety first by taking action as soon as they see signs of violence or abuse.

The call is in response to today's sentencing of those convicted of killing Rotorua three-year-old Nia Glassie.

Liz Kinley, CEO (strategic operations) of the violence prevention group Jigsaw, says while justice has been delivered for Nia more children like her may die if people don't know how to get help when it's needed.

"Nia's tragic death was at the hands of her extended family. They used the little girl's small body as a punching bag over a prolonged period. Most sickening is that they saw this behaviour as acceptable," she says.

Liz Kinley says the court hearings revealed several adults knew about what was going on in Nia's home.

"She was surrounded by adults within the family and neighbourhood who knew she was being seriously harmed but didn't act to protect her. As a small voiceless child she depended entirely on those adults to make sure she was safe.

"Family violence and child abuse are public issues, not private problems. Speaking out when we are worried about a child is one of the most important things we can do to emphasise this.

"We need to build healthy caring communities for our children. If we don't act there will continue to be people who think it's acceptable to behave like Nia's killers. Then another generation will continue the cycle."

Jigsaw is the national office for 32 frontline organisations working across New Zealand to stop child abuse, neglect and family violence.

"Our experience in local communities tells us most New Zealanders care deeply about what's happening to our children. But often as individuals people don't know how to break into the lives of those who are inflicting violence.

"They feel helpless about what to do and are sometimes afraid of what will happen if they get involved," says Liz Kinley.

She says the best time for anyone to offer help is early on, when they first get worried and realise a problem is developing.

"Try and get alongside parents and family members, and see whether you can help them get the support they might need.

"If this isn't possible, or you think someone may already be harming a child, then you can call a local community organisation like one of the Jigsaw members for advice. If you think a child is in immediate danger, the right action is to ring Child Youth and Family or the Police.

"These are small actions any of us can take. Our care can turn things around for a child and their family. And we may save a child's life."

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