Dads and Mums responsible for child abuse and neglect.
The Department of Child Safety's third annual performance report shows that women, just as much as men, are responsible for child abuse and neglect in Queensland, though the patterns of abuse between the sexes is different.
Child Safety Minister Desley Boyle has tabled the Child Protection Queensland 2005-06 Performance Report in State Parliament.
Ms Boyle said the report, which measures the performance of Queensland's child protection system, showed that Child Safety Officers were generally doing a good job.
"In the vast majority of cases, even with incomplete and conflicting information, our Child Safety Officers are making the right decisions".
"The Children Services Tribunal received 182 requests to review decisions made by the Department of Child Safety in 2005-06. It finalised 150 cases and only eight were set aside or varied. "
The report shows there were 13,184 substantiated cases of harm or risk of harm to children in 2005-06, down from 17,307 in 2004-05. In 2005, there were 973,475 children (aged 0-17) in Queensland.
"People may be surprised to hear that women, just as much as men, are responsible for child abuse," Ms Boyle said.
"We have an idealised image of mothers - that they feed their kids before themselves - but I'm sorry to say, it's not always true.
"Some mothers choose to spend their (albeit meagre) money on cigarettes and alcohol and give healthy food for their children a lower priority."
Of the 13,184 substantiated cases of harm or risk of harm, women account for more than half - or 7319 cases. Women are more likely than men to be responsible for child neglect.
"Women and men are roughly equal in responsibility for physical and emotional abuse however men are more likely to be responsible for sexual abuse (663 cases) than women (63 cases)."
Ms Boyle said it was important that children who had been abused got help quickly so they could start to heal.
"For too many years sexual abuse has been swept under the carpet. Children who did speak up were too often not believed or even ridiculed. "
So children not only had to deal with the actual abuse, but also with the fact that one or the other parent knew and failed to protect them.
"Today, more than ever, sexual abuse is being brought into the open. Communities all over Queensland are making it plain that sexual abuse is not okay, that perpetrators should be punished and that children should be given protection and support."
The report shows of the 13,184 cases of harm or risk of harm in 2005-06, there were:
• Physical - 1412 cases perpetrated by men and 1358 by women;
• Sexual - 663 cases perpetrated by men and 63 by women;
• Emotional - 2972 cases perpetrated by men and 2615 by women and;
• Neglect - 799 cases perpetrated by men and 3283 by women.
• The perpetrator was unknown in 19 cases.
"Too many children are being hurt and too many parents are not doing the right thing," Ms Boyle said.
She said substantial changes had been made to Queensland's child protection system, which steps in to protect children who have been harmed or are at risk and whose parents are unable or unwilling to protect them.
"The Department of Child Safety, with the help of its government and community partners, has now implemented all 110 Crime and Misconduct Commission recommendations.
"Each recommendation represents significant changes to systems, procedures, staffing and services," she said.
"However no matter how good the child protection system is, the responsibility to love and care for and protect children falls primarily to parents and families.
"Only when they realise that nothing matters more than their children can we be sure that children will be safe," she said.
End of Media Release 11 April 2007
What's your view on the differences between men and women abusing children? I am interested to hear your thoughts.