Another Child Welfare Scandal

The government’s child welfare organisation, Oranga Tamariki, is in trouble once again. Some time ago, there was a scandal because social workers were taking new-born babies from young mothers against their will. Now there is another scandal because workers have been using excessive force to control children and teenagers staying in hostels called “care and protection facilities”.

Children may be sent to a care and protection facility if there are no family members who can look after them. It is almost like a prison and school, and residents are supervised by staff. The staff are trained to do this job, but critics say they do not have enough training to know how to deal with difficult behaviour.

Excessive force means that workers have used more violence than needed to control a person. In this case, video footage has been released showing one teenager being attacked by three workers, and the violence continued even when the teenager had stopped fighting.

In response, Oranga Tamariki will be closing down the facility as soon as they can. They will close down other, similar facilities throughout the country. They plan to build new, smaller facilities where children will get better care. However, this will take time, and while we are waiting for new, better facilities, the existing facilities will need to be improved for the children who need care right now.

Vocabulary

scandal: shocking news

against their will: in a situation where one person does not agree to an action

excessive force: using more violence than is necessary

hostel: a boarding house, similar to a hotel

critics: people who make comment, often disagreeing

video footage: video captured of real events

released: made public

restrain: hold by force

close down: stop a project or business

facility: a public service such as library, toilets, or buses

similar: slightly the same