I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.
- W H Auden
From one of the stories about the five-year old tourist attacked in Turangi:
A sense of shame runs strongly through Kiwi messages to the five-year-old girl savagely attacked in a Turangi campground.
“Most of the messages are saying please forgive us,” Waikato Hospital spokeswoman Mary Anne Gill revealed yesterday as the girl left hospital, smiling and hugging nurses as she went.
Her European family plan to complete their New Zealand holiday, and police believe she may never remember anything about the sexually motivated attack because of her “heart-wrenching” injuries.
“The theme running through is a sense of shame … that this has happened in New Zealand .. This is not normal for New Zealand.”
If the family’s view of New Zealand was tarnished immediately after the attack, it wasn’t now, she said.
“They see it very much as an isolated incident.”
Isolated incident? But . . . this is normal for New Zealand, isn’t it? I mean, I guess it’s unusual that the child attacked happened to be a tourist attacked by a stranger, not someone living in poverty brutalised by a family member – but isn’t an assault on a child basically a routine occurrence in this country? We have the fifth highest rate of child abuse in the OECD, a child murdered roughly once a month.
Now the Herald reports that a sixteen year old has appeared in court, charged with the crime. If he’s convicted I’ll make two predictions (1) that he’ll be ‘known to CYFS’ because his own family has systematically tortured and abused him, and (2) he’ll spend almost his entire life in prison, because the risk he poses to the public is now so grave.
This isn’t a new problem, and New Zealand politicians have spent a long time insisting that ‘someone must do something’ – well, there are actual, proven policy solutions to the problem of endemic child abuse. Our MPs are ‘someone’ and they have billions of dollars and incredible scope to do ‘something’. But so far as I can tell, no one in New Zealand is even looking at these solutions.