NZ Studies identify father absence as factor in youth suicide
NZ Government funded research has identified total loss of father contact as being a common factor in suicides of youths, who have applied for Independant Youth Benefit. (This does not prove that it is causal, this is more difficult to prove.)
The same researcher asks people to be willing to look at all research and see that mother caregiver’s violence towards children, contributes towards some men’s life sadness and being unable to form constructive functional relationships with women. Thus, this source of violence to boys also needs attention and active support for parents, to reduce the damage being done to these boys. Blame is of limited value, to solving these problems, especially when it is one eyed. In many cases, the problems are life goals and relationships and the solutions lie in support through these problems and mentoring to develop workable solutions that protect all of the people involved. When someone has unrealistic expectations, this is itself a major problem and barrier to allow workable solutions to work!
The solutions to these problems does require Government agencies, CYFs, familycaught, teachers, schools and doctors to respond appropriately to the individual situation which confronts them. To simply apply irrelevant, crude “standard solutions” to all cases, only compounds the underlying family problems. The consequences include passing on abuse through the generations, producing insecure children (both boys and girls) who are unable to be happy and in extreme cases – youth suicide.
There is also the major growing economic problem of children maturing unwilling and unable to work in a workplace which is setting higher and higher social skill standards, to be able to get a job.
Of the agencies listed above, the two which stand out as being least successful in providing relevant appropriate assistance to families, are those which work under the most secrecy – familycaught and CYFs. I suggest that CYFs has difficulties in attracting satisfactory people, due to being Government controlled and not offering satisfactory pay. It seems the familycaught has the reverse problem – offering too much pay!
The Government is putting in enough funding, it isn’t being well enough managed. Thus the problem starts from the Government Ministers and runs down through each of these Departments – classical lack of accountability, especially in the judiciary, where the largest wastage is an ongoing and worsening problem. Funds saved through efficiency initiatives in the caughts, to restrict featherbedding, could allow CYFs to offer reasonable pay and ensure that their staff were better trained and supervised.
The top end of the accountability failure, is voter apathy. It is only when the voter/taxpayers demand value for money from the protective services, that real protection will actually be delivered for them and their children.
It seems this will only occur, when people care as much for other people’s children, as they care for their own.
In the last six months, I have been very unimpressed with what I have seen going on in NZ caughts, both familycaught and High Court. In one case, I was sickened to the core, to see a barrista for IRD support that IRD should continue to fund child abduction, as it is not bad for children and is a sensible mother’s response to domestic violence!
I am pleased to report, that the recent judgement, in Vince Siemer’s long running battle with Stiassny, seems to be sensible and wise. The judges are trying to lay out a path for resolution and I believe their approach is sensible and fair.
This is certainly in stark contrast to the earlier judgements by other “judges”. Both parties have been litigious and not concerned for the cost of their actions. This judgement is not yet available on the High Court website, but no doubt will soon appear – dated 6th July. The hearing dates were 16th and 17th June. I do recommend that you read this judgement, as part of your voter’s democratic duty.
Justice can’t be done in secret. And here’s why
From The Times
Risks, protection and outcomes
Clinical psychologist Narelle Dawson is completing doctoral research which evaluates the risks, protective factors and outcomes for young New Zealanders who have applied for the Independent Youth Benefit (IYB).
A SPEaR scholarship helped fund the research, which is thought to be a first that focuses on outcomes for this group of young people. “No one has ever collected longitudinal data in order to assess the outcomes for youth who apply for financial assistance due to family breakdown,” Narelle said.
The research includes four separate studies. The first is a snapshot of the 2,029 16—18 year olds in Waikato who applied for the IYB between 1995 and 2001. The study identifies adverse life and social risk factors across the cohort. The second study is a retrospective file audit of IYB applicants which analyses risk and resiliency factors that contributed to adolescent suicide and suicide survival. The file records of six deceased IYB applicants are scrutinised against 36 other young applicants whose backgrounds were closely matched to the deceased, but who survived. Narelle said her analysis found seven salient factors that discriminated those who died by suicide from the control group. One factor was that none of the six deceased knew who their fathers were. “That has implications for young Maori in particular, as genealogy is a huge part of their identity. I’ll be looking at the psychological implications for indigenous youth, especially where they are not told the name of their father.”
The third study comprises recent interviews with a group of 200 young people who had applied for the IYB between 1995 and 2001. The quantitative data is categorised into four groups — those who were granted the IYB and attempted suicide; those who were declined the IYB and attempted suicide; those who were granted the IYB and did not attempt suicide; and those who were declined the IYB and did not attempt suicide. “I have also recorded qualitative data from the interviews which will outline both the gaps and the resources which, from the point of view of those interviewed, has been influential in developing either positive or negative life outcomes. We hear the voice of the young people who used the system — what did and did not work for them, and what harmed them and what helped them survive.”
The final study will assess ‘cynical distrust levels’ of 200 adults who were former IYB applicants compared with 330 high school students, to test the hypothesis that those attempting suicide have elevated levels of depression and hostility towards others. The thesis will conclude with recommendations for policy advisers, case managers, schools, parents and caregivers.
Mums worse in smacking stakes
Marissa Calligeros | July 9, 2008 – 5:00AM
Mothers are worse than fathers when it comes to physically abusing their children, and are more likely to create a cycle of abuse that sees boys grow into violent men, one expert says.
While historical research has suggested young males learned abusive behaviour from their father-figure, Queensland clinical psychologist Dr Narelle Dawson said research showed male children suffered more physical abuse at the hands of their mothers.
“Boys beaten by their mothers are prone to a life of dysfunctional relationships with women or a sense of enduring unhappiness or prolonged periods of sadness,” Dr Dawson said.
“If you stop mothers beating boys, you will grow less angry male children, less angry adult men, have less domestic violence (and) less child abuse.”
Dr Dawson’s doctorate research into child abuse revealed that more than half of the 2029 children she surveyed were assaulted, 30 per cent of whom went on to make serious suicide attempts in their adolescence.
She said further studies into the long-term consequences of female violence towards male children were needed to end the “conspiracy of silence on the emerging evidence around women who grow angry, abusive males”.
Her findings have drawn ire from others working in the field, who have dismissed them as damaging “generalisations”.
Dr Dawson has attributed dysfunctional or abusive mother-child relationships to the prevalence of violent behaviour among adult males.
“There is a vicious cycle here that is not being addressed,” she said.
“If we want to stop men assaulting women and children we need to ask ‘What was their childhood background of abuse?’
“The maternal-child attachment provides a framework for all subsequent relationships that the child will develop … I therefore suggest you will find violent adult males have suffered an abusive mother.”
Australian Association of Social Workers national president Dr Bob Lonne slammed suggestions mothers were commonly responsible for inflicting injury on their sons.
“There is reason to imply that mothers would discipline their children with force more often as they are the primary care givers, but the difference between the rates of abuse by fathers and mothers is marginal,” Dr Lonne said.
“It is not wise to make such a generalisation. Physical child abuse occurs for a raft of reasons by both mothers and fathers.”
Professor Karen Healy, of the University of Queensland’s School of Social Work, said it was uncommon for primary care givers to cause injury leading to death.
“It is important to not to overstate the facts. We do tend to over-represent severe cases of child abuse and fail to recognise that cases are extremely varied,” Professor Healy said.
According to Dr Dawson however, more children were killed by their mothers than their fathers, and sons were killed more frequently than daughters in the last decade.
“I can’t say that male-to-female violence has decreased, but female-to-male violence has certainly increased,” Dr Dawson said.
“And young boys are the victims.”
Justice for Families
From The Times
July 12, 2008
An enormous response to the articles in The Times highlights widespread concern over the secrecy that shrouds the family courts
It is five days since The Times launched its campaign to open up the family courts and make social services more accountable for the removal of children from their families. The enormous response so far has bolstered our view that this is a vital debate. Many parents, but also lawyers, social workers and members of the medical profession have written in to sound the alarm about different aspects of the child protection system.
Not everyone supports our position. One common criticism was put eloquently by Sir Mark Potter, Britain’s most-senior family judge, in The Times yesterday. He argued that the family courts are not “secret”, but “private”, operating in what he described as “a minefield of complexity and emotion”. And that most families desire privacy, because family hearings expose deeply personal details.
This is the same argument that Lord Falconer of Thoroton used last year to explain why the Government rejected the recommendations of the Constitutional Affairs Select Committee for opening the family courts and allowing parents to talk about their cases. This week Bridget Prentice, Minister of Justice, has said that “the right of the public to know what is happening has to be balanced with a child’s right to privacy”. But the two should not be mutually exclusive. With proper reporting restrictions in place, it is perfectly possible to have accountability and to keep a child’s details confidential. That is what happens in Canada and Australia, where the courts are open. It is also the case in the Court of Appeal, where most family hearings are held in public.
There is something very wrong when parents are gagged to “protect” their children, while those same children are routinely pictured and named in adoption magazines. Removing a child from his or her family is not just a private matter. It is a matter for all society. That is why the Council of Europe has taken the extraordinary step this week of launching an investigation into the secrecy of family law in England and Wales.
Sir Mark Potter and many other judges support the Government’s proposal that all judgments should be made public in anonymised form, in cases where children are removed. That is a welcome step. But it does not go far enough. Without access to the evidence, it will be impossible to discover whether certain expert witnesses or social workers are making errors repeatedly. The system should meet the very highest standards of accountability, given that its decisions can destroy or save lives.
The Government has committed this week to publishing new proposals after the summer. This is a welcome end to the nine-month limbo since the deadline for its last consultation. But bold proposals are needed to reform a system that is in disarray. These include restructuring Cafcass, the Family Court Advisory Service, to reviewing the cutbacks in legal aid. Parents should have an automatic right to receive copies of the evidence used against them in court, just as they would in a criminal trial. It is outrageous that this point should have to be made at all. A large number of readers have told The Times this week that they have been denied access to papers that they need to mount an appeal. It is a matter of deep concern that parents accused of child abuse have fewer rights than those accused of murder.
Some of those who work in child protection are understandably upset at what they see as an attack on their competence, driven by aggrieved parents who give only one side of the story. But the growing suspicion of the authorities who are meant to support families will not be quelled by continuing to suppress information. We need both sides of the story to be told. That is why The Times will continue to shine as much light as possible on these issues in the coming weeks.
* Have your say
Only fully open Courts and an amnesty for the corrupt workers in the system will allow matters to be resolved in both private and public law. perhaps a truth and reconciliation period should now come into operation. Judgements often do not resemble the facts of the case or the arguments and evidence
Shaun O’Connell, Portsmouth, UK
Justice cannot be reliably done in secret. It must be done in the full glare of publicity, open to the inspection of a million eyes, or else abuses will certainly take place. Privacy is good, but it cannot trump the need for justice. We should have no Star Chambers in this day and age.
Tom Welsh, Basingstoke,
Geldof said we should start with a presumption that contact should be 50/50 each parent involved ‘where appropriate!’If the violent partner or one that presents problems to the childrens welfare and the passive parent, then there is a case for intervention.Sadly they see ‘all’ parents as a problem!
Dave Farmer, Broxbourne, England