Thursday, August 02, 2007

Beneficiary Bashing

You know what I've always found makes parents more likely to abuse their children? Giving them money. If only we made sure no parents had any money then I'm sure all our children would be safe.

Attacking the benefit system is a nonsensical response to child abuse - raising benefits would make much more sense. But regular as clock-work a child gets treated horrifically and people come up with stupid, unworkable, punitive suggestions for changing the benefit system. From Rotorua:

Rotorua's community leaders say it should be compulsory for all women on solo mother's benefits to have contact with welfare or community agencies.
Because being without a man, a job, or a fortune, is a sure fire sign that you're abusing your kids.


National is proposing Work for the Dole. They will start in South Auckland, and possibly Gisborne and Northland (which for the record has its lowest annual unemployment rate ever at the moment). I'm not sure they could have made their subtext any more texty without hiring a plane and sky-writing "WE ARE TARGETING BROWN PEOPLE".


  1. What is WRONG with these people? Being on a benefit doesn't make anyone a child abuser. What do these finger-waggers propose to improve by making the poor even poorer? Do they think this will improve the situation for children??

  2. Anonymous8:23 pm

    Governments always work with statistics.

    For example giving a person a vaccination might help him (lets say 98%) or it might hurt him (lets say 2%).

    Similarly a person with a rape conviction might be likely to do it again (lets say 60%) or might be harmless (lets say 40%) he might even be entirely innocent (lets say 3%) or guilty of a series of other rapes that no one knows about (let's say 30%).

    Maybe men abuse women in marriages 30% of the time and women abuse men 10% (sometimes in response to the former but not in my experience, I note).

    Maybe men abuse children 20% and women do it 10%.

    Maybe people on benefits are in a more stressful situation and there is maybe a 20% chance they abuse their children as opposed to a 10% chance in the rest of the population.

    Maybe solo mothers tend to be in relationships with people who are not the father of the child and women in relationships with men who are not related to the child have lets say 8 times greater chance that that child will be abused.

    Now whatever those statistics are in reality (those percentages may be totally wrong for all I know) - the government could ignore all of them and treat all patients alike or treat men like women when sentencing or investigating crimes and ignore risk factors. But if they do that how effective could their policies ever be?

  3. I think this comes from the attitude that people on benefits are somehow getting a handout that's on top of what they could be earning, if they were, like, decent hard-working people. Or that they're after your money and want something for nothing (a common theme that came up when I worked in a law firm was that people on legal aid just couldn't be trusted). Or that they're somehow inferior to the rest of us, like pets or something, and they get benefits as a reward for being good, and if they're bad they don't get those chocolate drops.

    Not that they need the benefits to live and to get schoolbooks and shoes and food and stuff for their kids, or anything.

  4. Hi Mia.

    Firstly, aplogies for beung off topic but is thought that some people arounf here may find this interesting.

    Well, I was innocently commenting over at kiwiblog when i was subjected to this comment by Mr Clint Hein:

    "Rogernome speaks for those who are that uptight enough to ask first before putting his meat in."

    Now I thought - well, need I point out the obvious, but then I thought, this is kiwiblog - of course I do ;-) So I replied ...

    "You mean those amongst us that care about the pleasure/needs of our sexual partners? No wonder many people over at Mia’s blog have pondered whether you have rapist-like tendencies, when you see asking for consent as a negative thing."

  5. Anonymous4:24 pm

    All this lip service being paid to the abuse problem... I have noticed around the traps how the domestic violence initiative in hospitals (the questions), is seen as a joke. Like violence is funny - grab your belly and have a good heave-ho.

    Just goes to show it is going to take a quantum leap of consciousness before we get anywhere close to facing up to this problem in NZ, let alone fixing it.

  6. to be a bit more charitable - it is quite embarassing to ask someone a question like "does your husband abuse your children" (or 'does he abuse you').

    In some ways it might be seen as an insult to the wife - possibly even a insinuation regarding her being a facilitator of a crime. It would not be surprising to find that most people who answer the question become hostile to the person asking it e.g. "do we hurt our kid? F*k you - do you kill paitients?".

    and as nice as hospital staff may be, no normal person would stay in a job where most people were hostile to you, and anyone who would probably would make terrible hospital staff.

    Not saying it is a bad idea - just that one might need to be a little realistic about the project. For example that untill it becomes a normal thing (or unless the staff are VERY well trained at managing people) the staff may not treat the questions with apropriate seriousness.