Widow claims late husband was a paedophile

Sexual abuse of children is a long term and serious problem in New Zealand. It ruins many people’s lives, and some victims (a minority) become abusers as adults, perpetuating the problem across generations.

It is known to be a serious problem in the Māori population, and Māori have been criticised for not standing up and speaking up to confront the issue.

Anihera Black has spoken up, and has caused quite a stir, claiming her husband (who died in 2016) was a paedophile who had also been abused as a child.

RNZ: Widows claims of late husband’s paedophilia – ‘brave’

The widow of Te Awanuiārangi Black, a prominent iwi leader who died in 2016, has posted a video to social media saying he was a serial abuser of children.

Awanui Black, who died two years ago, was a Bay of Plenty regional councillor and member of the Māori Language Commission.

In the video Anihera Black, at times distressed, said he was a predator who groomed and abused children over many years.

She said she was speaking on behalf of herself and family and that she was speaking out now because silence about such matters was violence to the soul.

“I am so extremely sorry and devastated.

“I’ll do what I can to help navigate through your healing process, but here’s where you take your power back.”

Ms Black said she and her family gave any potential victims permission to speak “your truth”.

In her video Mrs Black said her husband Awanui Black was himself abused as a child and that had created the same behaviour in him.

The family had decided not to unveil Mr Black’s headstone as it would perpetuate the illusion of who he was, she said.

People who new Awanui Black have voiced surprise over these accusations, saying they had seen no sign of abuse – but paedophiles have often got away with keeping abuse secret.

It will only be addressed if peoeple who do know of abusers, like Anihera Black, speak up.

There are issues in this case as the accused is now dead so cannot defend himself. But I think that the claims have to be taken seriously – otherwise the problem will keep being swept under the carpet.

NZH: Widow of Awanui Black claims he was a paedophile

Sobbing back tears and occasionally wailing in grief, she said: “I have an announcement to make on behalf of my kids and I and perhaps it will shock a lot of you and perhaps it will help some of you find some comfort.”

It was, she said, “something that needs to be done”.

“Those good deeds Awa did for individuals will live on in the memory of their lifetimes.
However the pain and suffering he caused others may live on for generations to come if things are left unsaid.”

Anihera Zhou Black said her former husband had come across as a larger-than-life leader with a booming voice but was actually “a shrivelled up cowering soulless shadow of a man”.

Throughout that time, she said he lived a double life that – she believed – stemmed from sexual abuse he had suffered as a boy.

“In turn it created the same behaviour in Awa. Awa became a paedophile and over the years, honing his skills, waiting for that perfect moment he had preordained to steal the innocence of others.

“I wondered why Awa invited so many young people through our home over the years and I thought it was to be a good aunty and uncle. I know differently now.

“He became a predator, a recruiter, a teacher, a pimp, a ringleader of one of the many child-adult sex rings here in his beloved Tauranga Moana and he took that shit nationwide with all his contacts in every stream of life.

“They would recruit the innocent…. share them around like a box of beer, consume every last drop and discarding the empty vessels into the gutter, soulless, cold and broken.

“I am so extremely sorry and devastated. You are all my babies now and I will do what I can to navigate through your healing process.

Anihera Zhou Black said those who were victims had “permission to speak your truth”.

“Take back the power of the secret. It has no power in the light. Give yourself permission to be heard, be it a whisper or a bloodcurdling scream.”

She said the thought of going ahead “made me feel like an accomplice”.

“The people I would talk to in passing would extol his virtues and I would smile politely and on the inside be swallowing back my own vomit.”

It can be very difficult for those caught in proximity to cultures of abuse. Breaking the silence, even if belatedly, is far better than letting abuses continue.

Obviously Awanui Black can no longer abuse, but encouraging others to speak up can help reduce other abuses.

Reactions to the video have included shock and anger.

These claims will have shocked some people, but more people need to speak up to confront a shocking record of abuse of children in New Zealand.

Caution advised over Christmas, but a resolution is required

This is wise advice…

…but there is a risk of a chilling effect on harmless socialising.

While holding sexual nuisances, abusers and predators to account is long overdue, there are dangers.

Passing contact, pats on the shoulder, back, bum, could be misconstrued, or they could be an invasion of personal space, or could be sexual harassment.

Hugging has become a widespread practice – has it gone to far? Some people don’t like being hugged by workmates, acquaintances or people they hardly know or have just met.

Personally I’d prefer to limit hugs to people I know well and love.

How common is it for children to be coerced into hugging relatives when they are obviously uncomfortable with it?

It’s not just personal contact in which there can be problems, there is potential risk from online contact, from comments or from inappropriate posts.

Most contact passes as ok, inoffensive, or not worth making a fuss about.

Some contact  is unwelcome, uncomfortable.

A fraction of contact – too much and too often – is over the top, over the line, offensive, predatory and worse. This needs to be checked and dealt with.

But there are risks that accusations can be themselves used as harassment and abuse.

Innocent until proven guilty is a fundamental part of our justice system, but it is imperfect, especially when people with power and influence are guilty. Some of them have been long term recidivists.

The issue of personal and sexual abuse and harassment needs to be confronted and dealt with better by our society, but it is a difficult and complex issue.

It’s not just a US problem.

In New Zealand the very serious issue of abuse of children in state remains improperly dealt with.

In Australia the findings of a Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has just been released. It is damning, especially of the Catholic Church, which hid, aided and abetted abuse for a long time.

A number of people in power in churches, institutions, schools and sports clubs have acted disgracefully.

RNZ: Australia child abuse inquiry: ‘It is a national tragedy’

A five-year inquiry into child sexual abuse in Australia has released its final report, making more than 400 recommendations.

The royal commission heard evidence from thousands of victims. Allegations were made against more than 4000 institutions.

“The survivors are remarkable people with a common concern to do what they can to ensure that other children are not abused,” commission chair Justice Peter McClellan said on Thursday.

Many dirty secrets have been revealed and exposed.

RNZ: Pope responds to Oz sex abuse report

Pope Francis says the findings of Australia’s child sex abuse royal commission “deserve to be studied in depth”, after the Catholic Church was heavily criticised in the final report.

The sanctity of the religious confessional would be tossed aside and celibacy would become voluntary under the final recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, which were released on Friday.

“The final report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse in Australia is the result of the accurate efforts made by the Commission in recent years and deserves to be studied in depth,” the Pope said in a statement online.

“The Holy See remains close to the Catholic Church in Australia – lay faithful, religious and clergy – as it listens and accompanies victims and survivors in an effort to bring healing and justice.”

Mild and vague words about a serious problem in the church. And there is resistance to change:

Archbishop Fisher was also quick to downplay any change to tradition.

“I think any proposal to effectively stop the practice of confession in Australia would be a real hurt to all Catholics and Orthodox Christians and I don’t think would help any young person,” he said.

Clinging to tradition and to power seems more important than exorcising a horrible record of abuse.

Priests and the church has seen itself as above the law. They put themselves second only to God, and acted as judge and jury.

And too often as the dirty offenders.

The royal commission report said the Catholic Church had demonstrated “catastrophic failures of leadership”, particularly before the 1990s.

The average age of abuse victims at Catholic institutions was 11 years old.

There’s no reason to doubt that there have been similar problems in New Zealand – in churches, in state care. There have been convictions of people from sports clubs, from cubs and scouts, even an ambulance officer has been convicted of abuse of patients in ambulances.

There are risks of inappropriate behaviour at Christmas parties, at New Year parties, in workplaces and homes and institutions.

There is always a risk of false or disproportionate accusations.

For a long time there have been far greater risks through inaction, through turning blind eyes, sweeping dirty secrets under carpets.

There will be some overreactions, but by far the biggest risk has been inaction, a failure by families, communities, authorities, societies to address these problems.

Smooching under the mistletoe is not really the problem. It’s what happens behind out of sight, behind closed doors where greater dangers lie.

We should still be able to have fun at parties, we should still enjoy one of the biggest social events of the year, Christmas. And New Year.

But a worthy resolution would be to find a way as fairly and effectively as possible to address the many dirty secrets of the past, and to enable healing, as much as is possible, of victims of abuse.

Child abuse a far worse problem than terrorism

If people and Governments put as much effort into reducing the risks of child abuse as they do terrorism perhaps we would make some real progress in dealing with one of New Zealand’s biggest actual problems.

It’s a lot more difficult screening parents in their homes than it is screening passengers before boarding an aircraft.

Jarrod Gilbert: We really must stop this cycle of child abuse

James Whakaruru’s misery ended when he was killed in 1999. He had endured four years of life and that was all he could take. He was hit with a small hammer, a jug cord and a vacuum cleaner hose. During one beating his mind was so confused he stared blankly ahead. His tormentor responded by poking him in the eyes. It was a stomping that eventually switched out his little light. It was a case that even the Mongrel Mob condemned, calling the cruelty “amongst the lowest of any act”.

An inquiry by the Commissioner for Children found a number of failings by state agencies, which were all too aware of the boy’s troubled existence. The Commissioner said James became a hero because changes made to Government agencies would save lives in the future. Yet such horrors have continued.

My colleague Greg Newbold has found that on average nine children (under 15) have been killed as a result of maltreatment since 1992 and the rate has not abated in recent years. In 2015, there were 14 such deaths, one of which was three-year-old Moko Rangitoheriri, or baby Moko as we knew him when he gained posthumous celebrity.

For every child killed there are dozens who live wretched existences and from this cohort of unfortunates will come the next generation of abusers. Solving the problems of today, then, is not just a moral imperative but is also about producing a positive ripple effect.

We have heard of a number of horrifying abuses of children, but they are just the worst. Most of the children being scarred for life suffer in private.

This cycle of abuse is well known, yet state spending on the problem is poorly aligned to it, and our targeting of the problem is reactionary and punitive rather than proactive and preventative.

Of the $1.4 billion we spend on family and sexual violence annually, less than 10 per cent is spent on interventions, of which just 1.5 per cent is spent on primary prevention. The morality of that is questionable, the economics even more so.

The Government say they are investigating ways of using money more effectively to reduce social and criminal problems.

Not only must things be approached differently but there needs to be greater urgency in our thinking. It’s perhaps trite to say, but if nine New Zealanders were killed every year in acts of terrorism politicians would never stop talking about it and it would be priority number one.

In an election year, that’s exactly where this issue should be.

Violence, especially violence against children, is one of the most serious problems we have in New Zealand. It has widespread immediate and long term effects and is very costly to the state – on top of costing many people a decent quality of life.

Why isn’t it a top election issue? Why aren’t parties making it a bottom line when they posture over coalition deals?

Why don’t ‘the people’ demand more from our Government and our politicians?

It’s something we must do more about, but we seem more concerned about things beyond our control, like Trump and Brexit and Islam that are low risk to us.

There are children in our communities at high risk now. Shouldn’t we me more outraged and more demanding of action?

 

Claim for state welfare abuse inquiry to Waitangi Tribunal

There is growing pressure to have an inquiry into historic abuse of children in state welfare. It is claimed this disproportionately affected Maori children and a claim for an inquiry has now been lodged with the Waitangi Tribunal.

Two weeks ago: Inquiry a ‘start’ in addressing institutional racism

Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy believes children were more likely to be taken off their families and put into state homes if they were Māori.

Dame Susan and the Human Rights Commission want the Government to set up an inquiry into the historical abuse of children in state care.

Dame Susan said uplifting Māori children from their families for trivial reasons or no reason at all would be the very definition of institutional racism. Only an inquiry would determine whether the policy was racist.

People who had been in state care, experts and the homes themselves had said children were more likely to have been taken from Māori or poorer families, she said. If New Zealand was going to address institutional racism in all parts of society an inquiry would be a “really good place to start”.

Dame Susan said by the 1970s, almost half the children in state care were Māori, and a generation later more than half the prison population was Māori, many of them former wards of the state.

A week ago: Govt spends $700k fighting state abuse compo claim

The government has racked up nearly $700,000 in legal fees fighting a compensation case over abuse that happened in state care.

The victim, known only as X, was sexually abused by another resident while a ward of the state in the early 2000s.

Documents show that over 18 months, the government spent $336,000 on Crown Law and $351,000 on external counsel.

Cooper Legal partner Amanda Hill, whose firm was acting for the victim, said the amount of compensation X will eventually get will not even come close to what the Crown is paying to fight the case.

That’s a quite sad use of money in one case, but it’s a much bigger issue.

The case was just one of 700 that Ms Hill’s firm was currently handling.

Ms Hill said it was one of several cases that were advancing towards a trial and the government was fighting hard to prevent that happening.

“The reason it’s doing [so] is because of the potential precedent effect of a court finding.”

Many of the cases on the firm’s books happened after 1990, when the Bill of Rights Act was passed, she said.

“It’s possible that a court would order significant damages if a breach of the Bill of Rights was found.”

The court costs associated with the current case could “easily” surpass $1 million, Ms Hill said.

The government set up a Confidential Listening and Assistance Service to hear from abuse victims, which wound up in June 2015.

Its chair, Judge Carolyn Henwood, made seven recommendations, including that an independent inquiry be set up to discover the extent of the abuse.

However, the government has repeatedly resisted opening an inquiry into historic abuse, questioning what it would achieve.

It is likely to achieve more than paying lawyers to fight claims.

There is also growing political pressure..

Last week ACT became the latest political party to support calls for an inquiry, putting National at odds with all three of its government support partners.

ACT leader David Seymour said he initially backed National’s position, but said he had changed his mind.

“Just getting more informed about what happened, the scale of the abuse, the number of people taken into custody… I think this is a question of public policy. It’s a question of justice. It’s a question of the government not being above the law.”

The National Party is alone in resisting.

Now: Claim for child abuse inquiry lodged with Waitangi Tribunal

A claim calling for an independent inquiry into state welfare abuse that disproportionately affected Māori has been lodged with the Waitangi Tribunal.

It has been filed on behalf of three claimants by Auckland firm Te Mata Law, assisted by Auckland University law school lecturer Andrew Erueti.

Mr Erueti said the claim asked for an independent inquiry to find out why so many Maori children were put in welfare homes where they suffered abuse.

He wants the claim heard under urgency because the current government response is inadequate, he says, and many victims are now elderly.

The claim is the Crown had failed to provide Māori with an independent means to address abuse of children in state institutions.

It says there is an incomplete understanding of the policies and practices that led to the majority of children in state institutions being Māori, the abuse they suffered, and how it has affected successive generations.

“Looking at the evidence that’s been pulled together by scholars who have looked at this closely over the years, academics in the universities and the historians, it seems quite clear that while there was not [an] express policy that Maori be picked up and taken into state care, they were singled out for special treatment,” Mr Erueti said.

“Greater attention was directed at Māori families and their children.”

The objective of the claim is for the government to hold an independent inquiry that takes into consideration the impact on Māori.

This is escalating because the Government has failed to respond adequately, in fact it has responded poorly.

This is an odd and disappointing situation for National to have got themselves into. Abused children, especially with their issues left not just unaddressed but opposed, are at high risk of becoming a burden to the State – but regardless of that they deserve to be at least partly helped by the State that abused them.

Seymour versus PPTA president

David Seymour has criticised comments made by PPTA president Angela Roberts regarding serious offending against children. Roberts has attacked back, accusing Seymour of misconstruing her comments, “probably done so deliberately”.

This started with a Newshub report: 54 teachers in 3 years struck off for violations

Official figures obtained by Newshub reveal 75 teachers have been censured and 54 have lost their registration in the past three years for violations including sexual misconduct, assault and sex abuse.

It comes as 10 teachers in September went before the Education Disciplinary Tribunal for violations ranging from inappropriate relationships with students to fraud.

PPTA president Angela Roberts says it’s important for the Education Council to monitor the statistics to pick up any trends.

“They may find that there is an increased trend of teachers who are suffering from significant stress, and some really poor decisions get made,” she told Newshub, “and if that’s something they see a trend is coming through on, then actually how do they respond to that?”

She says it’s important the Education Council has good processes in place to protect teachers and students, as issues can rapidly get thorny.

“It can get really complicated very quickly – do the police need to be involved, is it just an employment issue or is it a registration issue? So there are three bits to it.”

Seymour responded: PPTA president’s comments disgrace her profession

ACT Leader David Seymour says teachers should call for Post Primary Teachers’ Association (PPTA) President Angela Roberts’ resignation after her casual dismissal of inappropriate conduct towards students being due to ‘stress.’

“When it suits them, the PPTA claim to be the altruistic guardians of children’s education,“ says Mr Seymour.  “When it is revealed that 10 teachers are being investigated, six for inappropriate conduct, in the past month, the PPTA President had the following to say: ‘They may find that there is an increased trend of teachers who are suffering from significant stress, and some really poor decisions get made.’

“Inappropriate conduct can severely damage a child for life. Over the past three years 75 teachers have been investigated and 54 struck off, but the PPTA show no remorse, simply citing ’stress’ and ’bad decisions.’  It’s a joke.  The thousands of good teachers up and down New Zealand should be outraged and making it clear that these comments are not in their name.

“What she could have said is that the PPTA strongly opposes child abuse by teachers, there is no excuse, and the PPTA will be taking steps to protect children.  Instead, she explains it away as being someone else’s fault, someone else’s responsibility.

“The PPTA frequently claim that lobbying and strikes are not out of self-interest but concern for children’s education.  These comments, unintentionally perhaps but true all the same, show a union out of control and living in a parallel universe.  The comments are a disgrace for the whole profession and Roberts should either apologise or resign.”

Calling for a resignation seems an extreme response and is usually something that opposition MPs resort to far too often.

However Roberts does sound like she was downplaying abuse by teachers as being mitigated “due to suffering from significant stress, and that “some really poor decisions get made”.

And far more important than monitoring trends is the detection of abuse and appropriate action against teachers found to be abusing children. And even more important that measures are taken to try and prevent abuse happening in the first place.

Many people suffer from stress in workplaces and in homes. Actually we all do to varying degrees. That is no excuse for abusing children.

Fair enough to question Roberts on what she said, but it seems somewhat provocative to call for her resignation.

At NZ Herald in Act leader David Seymour slams comments by PPTA president  Roberts responded:

Roberts told the Herald that Seymour had misconstrued those comments, perhaps deliberately.

They were made as part of a longer interview, and were about the wider issue of dealing with both disciplinary and competency matters, Roberts said.

“If what I had said was, teachers are under stress and they make poor decisions – if I had been referring to cases of serious misconduct, then, yes, that would be dismissive and inappropriate.

“But that wasn’t what I was referring to. I was talking about all cases of deregistration – there is a huge range. There is conduct, but there’s also competence. And I was talking about all cases referred to the council.

“We do need to look at trends…the ones that are about bad people, absolutely those should be dealt with.”

Fair enough to clarify what she meant and the context the comments were made in.

But accusing Seymour of deliberately misconstruing her comments doesn’t help her argument.

And while Roberts has defended her comments she doesn’t appear to have done anything to address her or PPTA views on teacher abuse of children.

‘You don’t beat babies’

Minister of Social Development Anne Tolley on the basics of child abuse:

“You can pass all the laws you want, but everyone knows, you don’t beat babies.”

“Families need to take responsibility..neighbours – pick up the telephone…the police can’t be in every household.”

Source – @PaulHenryShow

There’s three important messages here (not that they should need emphasising):

  • ‘You don’t beat babies’
  • ‘You don’t beat babies’
  • ‘You don’t beat babies’

Audio of the interview with Anne Tolley: What can be done about New Zealand’s horrific child abuse figures?

Speaking up about child abuse is working

The headline may look worrying – Reported child abuse cases in Waikato rises.

But it could be a positive trend that will lead to lower levels of child abuse – more speaking out about abuse may break a culture of silence that has hidden awful levels and degrees of abuse against children.

The number of suspected child abuse cases reported to Child, Youth and Family in the Waikato rose nine per cent between 2011 and 2012.

New statistics show there was 17,196 family violence referrals to the agency in the Waikato last year, a rise of 1471 from 2011.

However, of those cases, 5414 required further action – a 22 per cent jump.

Unique notifications in the Waikato also rose by 437 – outpacing any other area in the country between 2011 and 2012.

The raw statistics don’t look good.

– but officials have attributed the rise to more people speaking out, rather than a rise in abuse.

And more speaking out, and subsequent of addressing the problems and dealing with them, should lead to reducing the levels of abuse.

CYF Waikato operations manager Sue Critchley attributed part of the rise to members of the community becoming increasingly aware that it was “OK to speak out”.

“I think there is far more awareness … people are more confident to ring us.”

Increased community involvement by CYFs through local service providers was also considered a driver for the rise in notifications.

Referrals from police make up the bulk of reporting, but schools and community service agencies also played a part, she said.

“I think there is a genuine awareness across the Waikato about seeking advice. It’s not necessarily about reporting a child abuse concern, but a worry people have about their children or their neighbours’ children.”

And support and prevention seems to be working…

The figures were tempered slightly by the fact that confirmed abuse cases in the region dropped, bucking the overall national trend of a 7 per cent rise.

“While there may be an increase in reports of concern and further action required, you’ll see our substantiation is not as high because we’re getting the right services in place for families before it goes wrong,” she said.

Speaking up about abuse and violence is essential in addressing large and entrenched problems in New Zealand society.

 

Have you heard the one about men thrashing children?

From an unlikely beginning in an unlikely place a discussion developed yesterday that illustrates how entrenched the culture of violence is in New Zealand.

It began on a Dim Post about Piri Weepu and breast and bottle feeding babies, moved to male bonding, and then a couple of quips.

“It’s common knowledge that male bonding with children begins and ends with sporting events.”

Wrong, it begins with a sound thrashing and ends with a clip around the ear.

As I have a habit of doing I questioned this.

I guess that’s supposed to be a joke but joking about violent child abuse these days is not a good look.

That was a deliberately mild rebuke as I didn’t know if ‘merv’  meant it as a joke (he probably did). A discussion (mostly crticial of me) ensued.

Gregor W: Agreed Pete. Because as I recall, violence against children used to be goddamn hilarious.
Top marks for sanctimony, Sir.

Gregor W:  I would have suggested saying nothing because it was very clearly, nay, blindingly obvious, that the comment was in jest. And for the record, I don’t consider ‘tsk-tsk’ing as offering a solution to a problem.

ieuan: I think most people reading the ‘sound thrashing’ comment will see it as a joke even if you can’t, for future reference why don’t you assume the average readership if this blog is say… a bit more ‘well rounded’ than some of the other blogs you spray your comments around.

Gregor W: Pete – for the love of God man, we get it.
1. Child abuse=awful
2. You are the arbiter of family values, common sense and good taste on the interwebs
2. You humour has been surgically excoriated and replaced with pomposity

Gregor W: Please address further questions vis-à-vis what may or may not constitute humour on this blog to The Department of Tedious Pedantic Buggers.

garethw: Dear Sir, s
I wish to complain in the strongest possible terms about the comment you have just posted about the male who clips their childrens’ ears. Many of my best friends are men, and only a few of them are transvestites.
Yours faithfully,
Brigadier Sir Charles Arthur Strong, Mr.
P.S. I have never kissed the editor of the Radio Times.

will: Oh come on Pete. I know Gareth can be a bit of a wet but it seems like a harmless joke to me.

Eric Blair: I think the gentleman who awarded ‘top marks for sanctimony’ possibly nailed the underlying issue that afflicts much of the mentality surrounding issues relating to child-rearing. It’s impossible to talk to people whose minds are so infected with ideologically-driven ideas of what is ‘correct’ that they unintentionally lampoon their own opinions and in the end jeopardise their right to be taken seriously.

merv: In most social groups a jokey comment about a ‘clip around the ear’ or a ‘sound thrashing’ is taken with the jest that is is given with.

I answered the last one:

Don’t you see that jesting about such things can be seen as social approval for actually doing those things – and we know there is a culture of thrashing kids in New Zealand. Jesting is a part of that culture, often inadvertent but nevertheless it supports the culture.

And merv – some of those who joke about thrashing their kids will be some of those who actually do thrash their kids, possibly remembering the laughs they got.

I’m sure that some people who joke about violence and child abuse are not violent people. But some probably are.

We have an endemic culture of violence in New Zealand. It’s obvious in the big news of deaths and serious abuses.

Like these kids.

But the Dim-Post thread illustrates that our violence culture is much wider and deeper than the worst cases. It’s spread even through relatively benign blogs like Dim-Post, embedded in our culture.

If we want to address the worst cases of our appalling child abuse we also need to address much more, including the passive and tacit approvals many of the rest of us provide the abusers.

Edit:

I knew I was risking being accused of being an accuser, and that has happened:

merv: Oh and Pete, keep your snide asides alluding to my possible status as a child beater to yourself.

merv – it wasn’t intended as a ‘snide aside’ directed at you, it was stating something obvious in general. I have no idea about you specifically.

I remember an old classmate joking about giving his son a good belt around the ear at a school reunion, and everyone knew he was also serious.
I remember a sports teammate joking about giving his wife a fat lip for ‘giving him lip’, and everyone knew he was also serious.

In both those cases there were sparse grins and everyone else was emotionless – and silent. Tacit approval of a culture of violence.

N.A.R.K. now

NARK started by one person, Cherie Kurarangi Sweeney, pushing herself to speak out against child abuse. It has grown into a substantial grass roots movement that is creating more awareness of child abuse, and offering help in doing something about child abuse.

N.A.R.K -Nation of Advocates for the Rights of Kids.

If any  of us involved with families and communities  see or suspect child abuse we have a responsibility to do something about it.

Even those of us who consider ourselves to be non-violent can help deal with the problem of family violence by speaking out against people who propose violence, or talk about violence as if it is normal and acceptable.

In most cases violence is not acceptable. In all cases violence against and abuse of children is totally unacceptable.

This is a family and community problem. Solutions have to come from withing  families and communities.

NARK is now the good thing for kids!

From the NARK website:

What should you do if you suspect abuse?

If it’s an Emergency

If it’s an emergency and you suspect a child is at serious risk, or a crime against a child has been committed this must be reported.

IN AN EMERGENCY CALL 111

Or call Crimestoppers 0800555111
(completely anonymous but information will be passed onto police without knowing your details)

“we can’t standby and ignore child abuse but we understand that it can be difficult to provide the information publicly. However, anonymity via Crimestoppers empowers…..”

When it’s not an Emergency

Taking action to protect a child doesn’t always mean extreme measures. There are lots of things you can do which may help to prevent abuse even occurring or stop it very early.

See http://www.nark.org.nz/How_To_Help_NARK.html for more details.

NARK Stop Child Abuse media coverage

Stop Child Abuse Memorial, 3 September 2011 has grown into a major event of ordinary people standing up and speaking up about child abuse. The event is getting coverage around the country.

Location map.

Tuesday 9 August 2011

Memorial planned for abused kids

Waikato Times

A Waikato woman who was labelled a nark for talking to police about the death of a Ngaruawahia baby is asking New Zealanders to remember child abuse victims in a special memorial.

Nation of Advocates for the Rights of Kids (Nark) founder Cherie Kurarangi Sweeney said she would like New Zealanders to place soft toys at war memorials on September 3.

The memorial was for children who had died at the hands of someone who was supposed to be caring for them, she said.

Thursday 11 August 2011

Soft-toy campaign to highlight child abuse

The Herald

A mother wants a war memorial gesture to draw attention to often brutal deaths.

A Ngaruawahia mother hopes soft toys can save lives in a unique national protest against child abuse.

Cherie Kurarangi Sweeney, a neighbour of 6-month-old Serenity Scott-Dinnington who died in April, is calling on all New Zealanders to lay soft toys at war memorials around the country on September 3 to remember children who have died from abuse.

Saturday 13 August 2011

RSA embraces soft toy protest

The Daily Post

Rotorua’s Returned Services Association is supporting an anti-child abuse protest organised by a Ngaruawahia woman.

Cherie Kurarangi Sweeney wants people to leave a soft toy at their local war memorial on the morning of September 3 in protest at the high number of deaths caused by child abuse in New Zealand.

Monday 29 August 2011

Toy tribute for children at memorial

Howick and Pakuranga Times

CUDDLY soft toys are being collected to pay tribute to fallen heroes and to serve as a reminder that children need to be protected.

People across the country will be placing teddy bears on war memorials as part of a campaign set up by outspoken child safety advocate Cherie Kurarangi Sweeney.

Tuesday 30 August 2011

Child victims to be remembered

Marlborough Express

A Picton woman inspired by Ngaruawahia mother Cherie Kurarangi Sweeney’s efforts to raise awareness of child abuse is organising a memorial in Picton to remember children who have died through child abuse.

Karen McLeod of Picton is organising the Picton event…

Wednesday 31 August 2011

‘Narks’ urged to speak up about child abuse

Taranaki Daily News

Taranaki mums proud to call themselves “narks” are urging more people to speak up about child abuse.

Four of them are organising memorial events on Saturday to remember children killed at the hands of caregivers. They join “narks” around New Zealand leading the cause on behalf of new national organisation Nark: Nation of Advocates for the Rights of Kids.

Antoniah Snooks, Renee Barlow and Kirsten Lawrence are co-ordinating the New Plymouth event at Marsland Hill, while in Central and South Taranaki Carolyn Cragg has taken up the cause. People are being asked to donate a toy in remembrance and donations are going to Barnardos and the Open Home Foundation.

Taranaki mums proud to call themselves ‘narks’

TVNZ

Four women are organising memorial events on Saturday to remember children killed at the hands of caregivers.

They join “narks” around New Zealand leading the cause on behalf of new national organisation Nark: Nation of Advocates for the Rights of Kids.

Rally for abused children

Central Leader

Nia Glassie, the Kahui twins and Serenity Scott-Dinnington all died violently. But a young mother wants to show Aucklanders that other children don’t have to meet the same fate.

Seemal Govan will ask members of the public to place a toy or teddy bear at the New Lynn War Memorial this Saturday as a mark of solicitude for the hundreds of babies who have died as victims of child abuse.

All teddy bears and toys left at the site will be donated to organisations that work with children, such as Women’s Refuge and Starship Hospital.

Friday 2 August 2011

Strong symbol for child abuse

Sunlive

Tauranga NARK memorial service organiser Suzy Brown says child abuse is a subject she is passionate about after acting as a foster parent for Child Youth and Family – fostering many children who had suffered from abuse.

“The children I was fostering were mostly pre-school aged as that is the area I specialise in. I saw the call out for a NARK organiser in Tauranga and signed up straight away.”

Gisborne Herald

NARK is not a dirty word when it comes to protecting children, says Gisborne child advocate Trevor Shaskey.

Mr Shaskey is calling on Gisborne and East Coast people to support Sweeney and her cause by coming together and showing support in a peaceful rally and balloon release ceremony at the Cenotaph tomorrow at 11.30am.

Region active for spring weekend

The Malborough Express

A memorial will also be held at the Picton War Memorial on Sunday between noon and 3pm to raise awareness of child abuse. People are encouraged to lay soft toys at the memorial which will be donated to Women’s Refuge.

Karen McLeod, of Picton, is organising the Picton event, one of several to be held inspired by Ngaruawahia mother Cherie Kurarangi Sweeney’s efforts to raise awareness of child abuse. Ms Sweeney, a neighbour of six-month-old Serenity Scott-Dinnington who died in April, was labelled a nark when she spoke out after Serenity’s death.

Soft toys for a hard stance

The Daily Post

Toys will adorn one of Rotorua’s war memorials tomorrow to encourage people to speak up about child abuse.

Rotorua people are being encouraged to show their support for victims of child abuse by bringing a soft toy to the Arawa War Memorial in Government Gardens on Saturday.

Rotorua co-ordinator of Nark Angie Philps is organising the Rotorua Stop Child Abuse Now day which is being held on Saturday around the country.

Monday 5 September 2011

Event to remember child-abuse victims

Otago Daily Times

Toys instead of wreaths were placed at the bottom of Dunedin’s Cenotaph on Saturday, in memory of children who died in the worst imaginable circumstances.

Dunedin women Mary Sharp and Catherine Syme said they had come to drop off some toys because they wanted to show their respect for the child victims of abuse and raise awareness of the problem. People who knew abuse was occurring had to say something instead of keeping silent, they said.