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MENZ Issues: news and discussion about New Zealand men, fathers, family law, divorce, courts, protests, gender politics, and male health.

NZ Studies identify father absence as factor in youth suicide

Filed under: Boys / Youth / Education,Domestic Violence,Law & Courts — MurrayBacon @ 11:45 am Sun 13th July 2008

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
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/daniel_finkelstein/article4296359.ece
From The Times


Risks, protection and outcomes

http://www.spear.govt.nz/news/2004/2004-12-bulletin-risks-protection-and-outcomes.html

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
http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/news/queensland/mums-worse-in-smacking-stakes/2008/07/08/1215282826701.html

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

9 Responses to “NZ Studies identify father absence as factor in youth suicide”

  1. Hans Laven says:

    Thanks for that information Murray, well done. Quite significant that none of those who committed suicide had any relationship with their biological father.

  2. allan Harvey says:

    Hi Murray and others,
    I would be keen on a reference for this research work on Fatherlessness as a correlated factor in youth suicide. I do know that CYFS are funding a big study led by Don?? who is a psych at Wellington Clinical school of Otago Uni.
    Allan

  3. starr says:

    On my visit to fiji last month the local daily papers had an article on introduction of a new act in family law it went along the lines of:

    Whoever initiates the separation, family breakup regardless of being male or female
    Shall pay alimony and child support to the other partner. The initiator shall also be treated as a liable parent as he/she is responsible for family breakup. The initiator shall have shared child custody however The kids shall not be removed from the family home they grew up in. i.e remain with the person that did not initiate the breakup.

    The reasoning stated in the papers was that the initiator was responsible for disrupting a family and shall take responsibility of own actions. Also it will promote pro family and prevent parent child alienation.

    Now why can’t NZ and other first world countries think of something like this…

  4. MurrayBacon says:

    Fiji law is less sophisticated? Get real – what they have done is common sense and cost effective for the public.

    You will observe that the Fiji legal workers serve their customer well and themselves rather poorly. The Fijian people are very lucky, to have lawyers with good integrity. We can only envy them.

    This surely must warn NZ voters, that they aren’t taking sensible care of their own interests.

    NZ familycaught use the no-fault divorce principal to refuse to apply responsibility to either men or women, who do damage to families. The legislation doesn’t require this, but it doesn’t prohibit it either.

    Why bite the hand that feeds?

    Service to the public would involve applying natural consequences.

    One example would be – when one parent denies the other access, then they would be required to carry the wasted costs of the other parent. This would not be very difficult to do! There are a very small number of published cases which show that this principal is sometimes applied!

    If this principal was commonly applied, then the workload of the familycaught would quickly drop off and their mistresses would starve and the crout-vagen sellers would go hungry.

    Before you decide to make any application to familycaught, you need to know the TRUTH about what does happen and what doesn’t often happen and what never happens in familycaught. It isn’t worth making an application, unless you have reasonable confidence that the outcome will be constructive, sensible and wise.

    Otherwise, you might find that the bone-breakers can give better value for money than the legal workers?

    Anyway, several mutual support groups offer free assistance, with negotiating family disputes, so the familycaught do have strong competition.

    They say it takes two to tango – but it seems to only take one idiot to apply to familycaught and drag the other more wise parent through the familycaught mangle.

    It seems that the familycaught disputes resolution service appeals more to people who lack wisdom or judgement, people who simply place trust without checking out on the quality of service that they are likely to receive.

    Be careful not to be dragged into the familycaught asset-stripping mangle, by some other idiot, who lacks caution and judgement.

    When legislation is clear and courts perform their duty competently and clearly, then the vast majority of people can arrange their affairs so as to not need to go to court.

    NZ family legislation has been carefully crafted to be unclear and somewhat ambiguous. This encourages the party who has poorer earning ability to consider taking the more hard working and successful party to caught. They have little to lose and a lot to gain. Along the way, the legal workers screw them both.

    The situation isn’t hopeless. When familycaught customers share their experiences, then future customers can make well informed decisions. If we delay to do this, then more people get their assets squashed out, for no value to their family.

    The low quality legislation problem only occurs, because we try to write our own legislation. It would be far safer, to just copy overseas legislation – it is free off the internet. Our Parliament, with many legal workers among the MPs, cannot resist the conflicts of interest and they serve their fellow legal workers better than the voters. To force improvements, voters must put in the effort to become well informed and remember past promises by politicians.

    Anyway, another day of reckoning is coming up for politicians, if you care to make good use of it?

    Cheers, MurrayBacon.

  5. bull en a china shop says:

    LABOUR GOVERNMENT ACC RUN BY FAGS’S AND WEIRDOS…

    ACC staff welfare Activa card, which allows more than 2,000 employees to spend $250 each on a range of goods and services.

    “ACC says the card provides ‘a cost effective, administratively efficient, and consistent way to provide staff with access to health and wellbeing products and services’.

    “These products and services include botox, manicures, aromatherapy, and pet grooming.

    “I can’t believe they are necessary to keep staff fit and well for work.

    “In responding to whether this was an appropriate use of taxpayer money, even ACC Minister Maryan Street admitted in Parliament today that she has ‘no idea what it has to do with ACC staff safety and health’.

    “The Minister then attempted to absolve herself of any responsibility for this wasteful initiative by calling it ‘an operational matter under the jurisdiction of the CEO’.

    “Well, if Maryan Street isn’t convinced that this is a responsible use of taxpayer money, I wonder how the public feels.

    “Hardworking taxpayers, who have been denied the chance to keep more of their money under this Labour Government, deserve more than that feeble explanation.

    “I suspect the Minister can’t provide an acceptable justification for this reckless use of taxpayer money because, the reality is, she condones it.”

  6. bull en a china shop says:

    The key (no pun intended) element of the Labour Party policy is that it has a sub-human agenda, to be human – is to contribute to the survival of the species. Fag’s and weirdo’s do not belong to the human race, they are technically sub – human (the equal of one taking a life to be of the same value as one that can not give a life, i.e. father / mother) and should be represented on the http://www.hrc.co.nz website as such. Our current prime minister i would call sub-human technically speaking and has done more harm for new zealand than good for fellow new zealanders. Suicide up, crime up, father less children up, Labour popularity down. Please can the next government fix this crazy (not a telecom plug) country.

  7. MurrayBacon says:

    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.
    …………
    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.”
    “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.”
    __________________________________________________________________________________________________
    Nothing much has changed in the nursery, it is just that social workers and toy judges have taken 50 years to be willing believe the statistics!!!! See NIS-4 from USA…..

  8. MurrayBacon says:

    Dr. Nick Smith said it first: Family Court must be open to public scrutiny

    -This links in with the Times UK article above about secrecy-

    9:53 AM Friday Jun 18, 2004 Nothing has changed since 2004!

    New Zealand
    COMMENT

    The momentum for family law reform is growing. The system suffers from long delays, huge costs, excessive secrecy and a lack of respect for parents’ rights and responsibilities. As evidenced by our appalling child welfare statistics, we must do better.

    I first incurred the wrath of the Family Court in 1993 for publicly criticising the case of a Nelson couple who had left the Exclusive Brethren Church and were blocked out of their children’s lives for nearly four years.

    It highlighted the problems of ex-parte orders being granted for quite spurious reasons, long delays and a lack of rights for competent parents once entangled in the Family Court bureaucracy.

    The more recent case, involving a Nelson Maori family, highlighted similar concerns. I have no regrets for highlighting this family’s plight despite being found in contempt of court. In a free and open society, the state cannot take children off competent parents without question.

    In the course of this case I have been contacted by hundreds of people who have deep emotional scars from their experiences with the Family Court.

    The first substantial reform I want advanced is an opening of the Family Court to public scrutiny. The secrecy of the Family Court is an example of the pendulum of privacy swinging too far.

    The Department of Child, Youth and Family’s chief social worker, Shannon Pakura, has expressed concern about opening the court, saying the public would be horrified at what adults inflict on one another and their children. She is wrong. Problems hidden are problems ignored.

    It is also quite dangerous constitutionally for judges and lawyers to have a monopoly on the information required to access the court’s performance. We risk the court losing sight of the interests and values of the community it serves.

    A more open court will, in fact, help the court’s work. If people can see how the system works and the likely outcome in their own case, they are more likely to settle without the trauma, expense and delay of a court hearing. Justice will also be better served by a wider group of people being able to witness the process.

    In difficult custody cases, it is good for the wider family to hear the other side of the story and see justice being administered over a treasured child.

    We do need to be careful that the pendulum does not swing too much the other way. The court, like any other, should be open and the decisions be publicly available, but the names and identities of the parties should be suppressed.

    My second goal is to strengthen the rights and responsibilities of parents. I have always assumed that competent parents have the right and responsibility to care for their children. The Family Court is secret, so we have no idea if this assumption is true or not.

    The law governing child custody is too vague; it simply requires the court to act “in the best interests of the child”. Parliament has given the Family Court a blank cheque. The judge in the controversial Nelson case stated: “There is no presumption in favour of the natural parents, or any onus on the substitute parents to prove them unfit.”

    This view is legally correct but highlights the need for change. It is contrary to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child that says children should be separated from their parents only in cases of neglect or abuse or where the parents live separately.

    That is why I am sympathetic to the pleas of tens of thousands of parents not living with their children (generally fathers) who want their legal rights to have access to their children strengthened. Their case is supported by the increasing body of social research showing that boys and girls need male role models.

    The Care of Children Bill before Parliament increases the powers of social workers, psychologists, judges, step-parents and whanau while further eroding the rights of the parents. Government ministers have been quite open in stating that they want to move away from parents’ rights.

    I worry about the increased emphasis on child rights in the bill regardless of age. Children are so open to manipulation it can create quite perverse incentives to restrict access and spoil a child.

    A further concern in the bill is the emphasis on diverse family arrangements. This is despite research increasingly confirming to us what common sense has long been saying: some living arrangements carry greater risks for children; to pretend otherwise does our children a disservice.

    The problem with this whole approach to children is that we keep treating them in isolation to their parents. The best way to advance children’s interests is laws that support long-term, stable families.

    The Care of Children Bill, alongside the civil union and defacto relationship bills, just adds to the programme of social engineering that undermines the very institutions that will give children the best start in life.

    * Nick Smith is a National MP.

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