We work to free children from harm
Every child has the right to a childhood free from harm, but New Zealand has unacceptably high levels of child abuse.
Child abuse isn’t just physical violence. It may be facing constant criticism, being degraded, or feeling fearful at home.
It could be failing to receive medical care, being left alone unsupervised, or receiving excessive discipline. It might also be inappropriate touching, or adults initiating sexual conversations with children.
Most child abuse occurs within the family environment but it can happen anywhere - at school, in the larger community, or online.
The signs of child abuse are not always obvious, and abuse frequently goes undetected and unreported.
We must work together to end violence against children.
UNICEF wants a future free of violence against all children. In New Zealand, we advocate for child rights, and support positive parenting strategies with zero tolerance for physical punishment.
We also advocate for programmes that address poverty and economic inequalities, and focus on reducing alcohol and drug abuse. Read more about what our dedicated Advocacy Team are doing in New Zealand here.
New Zealand has a woeful record of child abuse at the hands of parents and family members, often as a result of punishment that went too far.
Helping parents understand their child’s development, and how to manage and discipline children without hitting them is part of creating a society with less violence in the home. For more information about positive parenting, visit www.skip.org.nz.
New Zealand has one of the worst records of child abuse in the developed world.
Violence against kids often begins as physical punishment, and then evolves into full-scale abuse. This can cause prolonged and severe damage to young developing brains. Children under five years, and particularly infants and newborns, are most at risk of violence and maltreatment in New Zealand.
Experiencing or witnessing abuse in the early years is linked to learning and anxiety disorders, mental and physical health problems, drug and alcohol abuse, insecurity and depression, low self-esteem, and early pregnancy.
Every year the Ministry for Vulnerable Children receives more than 150,000 reports of concern relating to children.
Tens of thousands of child abuse cases are reported every year
On average, a New Zealand child dies every five weeks as a result of violence. Children under 12 months old make up the majority of this statistic, and 90% of the time they have been killed by a parent or family member.
A 2012 survey found 7% of youth had witnessed adults at home physically hurting each other and 14% had witnessed adults physically hurting children.
In 2015, there were 14 victims of homicide aged under 14 years. Eleven of those victims were aged under five years old.
In 2015, there were 6,491 recorded instances of common and serious assaults on a child and 1,982 for sexual assaults on a child.
20% of girls and 9% of boys in New Zealand report unwanted sexual touching or being forced to do sexual things.
Child abuse costs NZ around $6 billions per year
A culture that abuses children's rights costs us all. An Infometrics survey commissioned by Every Child Counts estimated the cost of child abuse in New Zealand to be around 3% of GDP, approximately $6 billion per year.
This cost is made up of increased health costs, welfare payments, remedial education, justice expenditure and lower productivity.
Read more about the reality of poverty for kiwi kids, and how UNICEF is helping to build a better and fairer future for every child.
UNICEF NZ helps save and protect the world's most vulnerable children