Is that child OK?

The majority of children in New Zealand are happy, healthy and loved by their families, whānau and caregivers. However, not all children have the support and protection of a trusted adult.

Sadly, abuse and neglect of children happens a lot in New Zealand. Most people wish there was more they could do to keep kids safe. But often it all seems too hard or they’re afraid of doing the wrong thing.

‘Go with your gut instincts, then talk with someone who knows their stuff…’

Whether you’re a family or whānau member, friend, neighbour, teacher, or workmate, there are things you can do to protect children from abuse and neglect. Every action counts.

What you can do

  • Make sure you know what abuse and neglect are, and how to recognise the signs – see What are abuse and neglect?
  • Offer encouragement and practical support to families if you think they might be running into problems – see Supporting parents.
  • If you feel worried, talk to the parent or another member of the family or whānau about your concerns – see Talking about it.
  • Talk to someone else who knows the family well, eg, a friend, neighbour, workmate or teacher.
  • Link the family up with others who can support them – see the useful contacts on this page.
  • Talk to someone experienced, for a different point of view, or for ideas about how to help.
  • Call a helpline for free, confidential advice and support:
    • Parent Help – 0800 568 856
    • Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki – 0508 326 459
    • Are You OK – 0800 456 450 (Family Violence Information Line).
  • If you’re worried that nothing’s happening, let someone in your neighbourhood or community know, like a community worker, health worker, church leader or kaumātua from the local marae.
  • Trust your judgement and keep trying until your concerns are taken seriously.

If you see or hear about a child whose safety and wellbeing is in immediate danger, don’t wait, and don’t assume someone else is acting. Contact the police on 111 or Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki on 0508 326 459.

If you are concerned that your safety may be put at risk by reporting and wish to remain anonymous, phone Crimestoppers NZ on 0800 555 111.

The quotes included in this material are from ordinary New Zealanders who’ve taken action to keep a child safe. Be one of them.

In this section

  • The early stages of abuse and neglect can be hard to pick up. Make sure you know what abuse and neglect are, and how to recognise the signs. Read more
  • Most parents want the best for their children. Offer encouragement and practical support to families if you think they might be running into problems. Read more
  • If you notice things going wrong for a child or the people caring for them, it’s important to act early. Here are some tips on talking to the family or child directly. Read more
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