Sunday, January 29, 2012

Mike Butler: Somebody else... to blame

Maori health researcher Dr Fiona Cram blames poverty and racial discrimination for Maori child abuse, according to one of two Families Commission reports that show that 52 per cent of all New Zealand children who have been taken into state care from abusive or neglectful parents are Maori. Dr Cram said:
"Around the world, indigenous children are over-represented in child welfare systems for many reasons: systemic racism, the application of white, middle-class standards and values to [indigenous] communities, and inter-generational fragmentation of the family and community structure."
I would say there are two sides colonisation. The white coloniser brought blankets, British bureaucracy, and endless little pay-offs to keep the colonised happy. The colonised had Stone Age technology, warrior values, and much fear and superstition. Some academics blame the missionaries for introducing corporal punishment, but Maori culture had a tradition of killing unwanted children. Unfortunately, Dr Cram is of the “some one else is to blame” school of thought, which means the abusive, neglectful parents are not responsible and don’t need to change their behaviour.

Dr Cram, who comes from the East Coast iwi of Ngati Pahauwera, found that 54 per cent of Maori, but only 24 per cent of non-Maori, lived in the most deprived 30 per cent of areas in the country at the 2006 Census. She said Otago University research showed that this was partly due to ethnic discrimination.

I would say that a deprived area is either where no one wants to live because there is no work, or where people who want to avoid having to work go to, because there they can exist on a benefit. Dr Cram, whose tribe’s traditional area, or “rohe”, extends between near the Putorino pub to south of Wairoa and inland as far as Lake Waikaremoana, is a deprived area for those who choose to live there without owning a farm. That has not prevented Dr Cram from getting a PhD and becoming a health researcher. The ethnic discrimination that she alleges has not held her back. Dr Cram said:
"If you take a cohort of Maori and a cohort of non-Maori who are the same in age, gender and education levels, the Maori will end up in lower-status jobs . . Structurally, it's discrimination. You could say personally, in terms of whanau, it's because the knowledge of how to move through education into employment is not as embedded in whanau."
As I said, Dr Cram’s ethnicity has not held her back. She is well placed to encourage her own children into education and work. Maori are not alone in the problem of families lacking the knowledge of how to move through education into work. Secondary school teachers derive considerable satisfaction out of seeing a student be the first in their family to go on to university.

The reports are not devoid of useful information, aside from the poverty definition that creates statistical poverty. (New Zealand’s so-called impoverished class can eat, drink, and smoke as much as they like, live in subsidised housing, have pay-to-view television, and own cars).

Saturday's NZ Herald article, that quoted Dr Cram, said
". . .the Social Development Ministry says one-third of Maori children and a quarter of Pacific children, but only one-sixth of European children, lived in homes with incomes below 60 per cent of the median after adjusting for housing costs between 2007 and 2010. It says the main factor pushing up the Maori figure was a high number of sole parents. Almost half (43 per cent) of sole parents on the domestic purposes benefit in the period were Maori."
Yes, you read it correctly, nearly half (43 percent) of parents on the DPB between 2007 and 2010 were Maori. There are too many Maori on the DPB; in fact there are too many people on the DPB. If you can’t feed them, don’t breed.

See Maori child abuse linked to poverty and discrimination, NZ Herald,


Anonymous said...

Very selective analysis & conclusions from the good doctor. Why doesn't the doctor take a leadership role, to lead her whanau out of the poverty/parenting role(without parenting skills & a married partner), instead of of just presenting her facts, as she sees them.
A thoughtful treatise Mike.

Ray S said...

By her very words and research, Dr. Cram has shown that with will and application maori can progress to higher education levels. It is somewhat unfortunate that Dr. Cram sees "the application of white, middle-class standards and values to [indigenous] communities, and inter-generational fragmentation of the family and community structure." as the main reason maori fail to progress beyond the welfare system. Anonymous Don has a good suggestion for the good doctor.

Anonymous said...

Dr Cram perpetuates the unhealthy view that Maori are victims, not in control of their lives and not responsible for their actions, a view that should be avoided even if a case can be made for it, bullies always see themselves as victims.

Having said that the poor are probably more likely to use their fists simply because fists are free,it's all they have, but its a stragegy that doesn't help anyone, P.C. research like this just makes makes such violence more likely.