NZ women need more protection - report

New Zealand needs to do more to protect Maori women in particular from domestic violence, a new report says.

The Leitner Centre for International Law and Justice at Fordham Law School in New York today released its report on a year spent studying domestic violence in New Zealand.

It found protection orders were too often not served or enforced and that offenders were sometimes bailed to the address of their victim.

It also criticised a lack of data on domestic violence.

Among its 27 recommendations were:

* Doing more to protect Maori women in particular;

* improving the way domestic violence is monitored; and

* providing better support for both victims and offenders.

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia said developments had been made in addressing domestic violence in the year since the Leitner Centre conducted its study.

"Nevertheless, in responding to family violence, it'll be really helpful to have these external insights, and my staff are meeting with people from the centre now to ensure we give the recommendations serious consideration," the associate Social Development Minister said.

"Taking action to prevent domestic violence is of the highest priority to me, and I'm always keen to receive the best wisdom about how we should address these issues."

Some government-assisted initiatives had been launched since the study, including establishing a Maori reference group on the issue.

"What I'm seeing is that most government-assisted anti-violence initiatives focus solely on the victim and perpetrator and, whilst that's understandable, little attention is given to their whanau despite the violence, in most cases, being intergenerational," Mrs Turia said.

"There's no doubt that we need safety standards for whanau - one that treats domestic violence as the serious and criminal breach of human rights that it is."

Families Commission chief commissioner Dr Jan Pryor said recently police statistics recorded a 12.4 percent rise in reported family violence, which showed more people were reporting incidents and society was become less tolerant.

"What is important now is to support the success of the awareness programmes with early intervention strategies," Dr Pryor said.

"How we treat our children impacts significantly on how children handle conflict as adults. Our ability to control emotions and impulses is programmed into our brains in our formative years.

"If children grow up in a deprived and/or abusive environment, where that early learning does not occur, they may be unable to set limits on their behaviour, or be incapable of empathy."

Childhood deprivation was not the only cause of violence in adults, and not all deprived children became violent, she said.

However, research clearly showed it was a significant cause.

"Encouragement and support for families to function positively will go a long way toward reducing the consequences of family dysfunction, including family violence."

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