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Getting down on all fours and imitating a rhinoceros stops babies from crying. (Put an empty cigarette pack on your nose for a horn and make loud "snort" noises.) I don't know why parents don't do this more often. Usually it makes the kid laugh. Sometimes it sends him into shock. Either way it quiets him down. If you're a parent, acting like a rhino has another advantage. Keep it up until the kid is a teenager and he definitely won't have his friends hanging around your house all the time. ~P.J. O'Rourke


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Abusive mother: The system let me down PDF Print E-mail
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Written by ONE News   

An Auckland mother, who subjected her daughter to horrific abuse, said she had reached breaking point and when she tried to seek help she was let down by the system.

The 31-year-old mother, who has name suppression to protect the identity of her children, was sentenced to seven and a half years in jail, with a minimum non-parole period of five years.

She and her partner were arrested in December 2010 after their daughter was found hiding in a wardrobe, starving, dehydrated and badly beaten.

A court heard how the girl was taken into Child, Youth and Family care when she was four-months-old because the mother admitted slapping her when she cried.

CYF placed the girl with a "whanau caregiver", who sexually abused her.

When she was returned to her parents in December 2008 her mother said she could not cope with her behaviour, blaming the sexual abuse.

"It's really unfortunate that the child came back with all these problems and issues that were just way beyond my help," the mother told RadioLive.

On one occasion the girl had tried to set fire to the house and had also put poison in the family's food.

The mother told the radio station that she wanted to tell her story because she wanted people to know the truth about what has happened and why it happened.

"For almost two years I had to constantly deal with crisis every day. I had to deal with, for instance, defecating all over the carpet, her sexualised behaviour toward her siblings, fire lighting, the lying, the stealing."

Despite the problems CYF put the child back into her mother's care.

CYF admits today it could have done things differently and said it has learnt from the horrific case.

"Hindsight's a great thing, and when you look at the decision that was made at the time, probably now we would have done something differently," saud CYF head Bernadine MacKenze.

Attack not warranted

The mother said that her daughter's behaviour did not warrant her attacks.

"I shouldn't have done that and I'm sorry I done that, but as the behaviour got worse that's when I let her know, I let the council know I'm coming to breaking point and someone needs to intervene before I end up doing something I am going to regret."

"I don't think they really took me seriously at all."

The mother wrote to Prime Minister John Key asking for help after she said she had been failed by Child, Youth and Family. Key deferred her letter to Social Development Minister Paula Bennett.

Speaking this morning to TV ONE's Breakfast, Bennett accused the mother of being "incredibly devious and manipulative".

Asked whether the abuse amounted to a failure on the behalf of the agencies involved, Bennett agreed that it did.

But she qualified this, saying that in part the abuse was not identified by agencies was because of the mother's actions.

"One reason is because the mother was so incredibly devious and manipulative,' said Bennett.

"When there is so much deviousness and manipulation going on... the focus went on to the mother and her needs, and how she was coping, and how everything was for her, whereas in the meantime we had children who were growing up in a life of hell."

But the mother claims she could have been offered better assistance to deal with her issues.

"When I mentioned I had come to the end of may tether they could have put her in a centre or could have let me send her away to a relative so I could have got better.

"There could have been other help that people could have given me but nobody did."

"Not a monster"

The jailed woman said her daughter's behaviour towards her siblings reminded her of her own past.

"I went through the exact same thing she went through and I don't think that what I done justifies that at all - I mean I feel so sorry for her."

She said she was a bad mother for what she did to her daughter but she is not a bad mother to her children.

"I was just overprotective of my other children. I didn't like seeing her playing with her siblings like that - that's sick."

She said felt she was discriminated against and nobody knows the other side of the story.

"There is a lot more in this story that is not being told out there."

"No matter how much love and care I tried to give her and trying to make her feel special it just wasn't enough."
And the lawyer who defended her insists she is "not a monster".

"In my submission she was a timebomb waiting to explode and she was put into the care of her mother," defence lawyer Lorraine Smith said.

Outside court yesterday afternoon Smith said her client had been pushed over the edge.

"Is this woman a monster? No she is not a monster - she was failed," she said.

The accused father has pleaded guilty to two charges and his sentence has been adjourned until February 7.

Nightmares for child

The abused girl said she is so afraid her mother will get out of jail and hunt her down she has been having nightmares.

"I still have nightmares about what happened to me. In my dreams my mother and father are out of jail and trying to find me to hurt me some more," the girl said in a victim impact statement.

The court also heard a victim impact statement from the woman's 7-year-old son yesterday who said he was scared to leave the house and had difficulty walking after being beaten.

"Sometimes if my legs were bruised from being hit I wouldn't be able walk properly for two days," he said.

"If I screamed I'd get another beating and another until I stopped screaming. One time I had a bloody mouth from being hit and I had to spit it out as the blood was going down my throat."

When his nine-year-old sister was discovered she had multiple injuries including one of her toenails which had been pulled off and she had allegedly been beaten by weapons including a hammer, broomstick and machete.

Bennett demanded a review and report on the girl's care. She has described the case as one of the worst she had seen where the victim survived.

The girl's suffering was widely reported and 12 agencies, including general practitioners and Housing New Zealand, had contact with the family.


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