New Zealand mothers kill more children than any other group
in society and men are victims of domestic violence as often
as women, a police investigation has found.
The Family Violence Death Review, released today by police,
found mothers were responsible for 45 per cent of children
killed by domestic violence.
The review of 95 family violence deaths involving 101 victims
between 2004 and 2011 revealed some "inconvenient truths",
Family First national director Bob McCoskrie said.
He said the statistics debunked the misleading popular
perception "that women and children need to be protected from
"This gender focus is misleading," Mr McCoskrie said.
"If we're really serious about reducing family violence, we
need to talk about ... our violent culture and the role
alcohol and drugs play in fuelling this environment."
The police report - which only involved deaths that were
subject to a Family Violence Death Review - found:
• Victims were spread almost equally between men, women
• Mothers killed 15 of the 33 child victims
• 81 per cent of female victims and 29 per cent of male
victims were killed by a former or current spouse or partner
• 64 per cent of all deaths were in families where police had
• In 55 per cent of child deaths police had prior involvement
with the family
• Most suspects or offenders were aged in their 20s.
University of Otago Professor David Fergusson, an expert on
domestic violence, said the public perception that men were
the perpetrators of most domestic violence was the result of
"The proper message is that both gender groups have a
capacity for domestic violence [and] women probably
perpetrate more assaults on children then men do," Mr
The ramifications are a public health system that tends to
overlook male victims of domestic violence.
One example was White Ribbon Day, which he had been critical
of because it focused on female survivors of domestic
violence and there was "no comparable day for male victims".
"It is those biases which have been built into our system
right the way through it, largely from feminist rhetoric that
implies that males are always to blame.
"The bottom line is the importance of public policy being
based on evidence."
Mr Fergusson said dealing with child abuse "certainly needs
to be a lot more of a priority than it's given".
Education should be the cornerstone for parents, particularly
to learn how to cope with the stresses associated with a
"I think that by a series of programs targeted at teaching
parents better skills, giving them support, we can minimise
the risk of child abuse."
Labour's women's affairs spokeswoman Sue Moroney said the
report showed "police must resume reporting full family
violence statistics so we can get the full picture".
National crime manager Detective Superintendent Rod Drew said
police had introduced ways to deal with domestic violence
since 2004, including a risk analysis tool.
History of abuse
2012: An Auckland mother, 31, jailed for seven-and-a-half
years for "sustained abuse, amounting to torture" including
tearing off her nine-year-old daughter's toenail and pouring
salt on the wound
2010: A 29-year-old mother found guilty in the High Court at
Auckland for leaving her 13-month-old son in a deep bath
where he toppled over and drowned
2010: A mother, 29, sentenced in the High Court at
Christchurch for killing her newborn daughter and hiding her
body in a wardrobe