73 minute read

Crime Prevention Journal - Police Managers Guild Trust

A message from the Chairman

This booklet, provided with our compliments, concentrates on community safety in homes, in neighbourhoods and communities. We all have a duty to keep ourselves, our communities and our families safe. Although we can rely on the Police to support us they can not be everywhere at all times.


People have a right to be safe but we also have a responsibility to be prudent about our personal safety to lessen the chances of becoming a victim. This booklet shows that there are many simple things that can be done to keep us, our neighbours and our communities safe.Apart from providing common sense tips that help to prevent physical harm, we have included up to date information and advice about risks our children face with new technology.

The Police Managers’ Guild Trust believes you will find the information contained in the booklet valuable in keeping you safe and feeling safe in your home and community. We also believe the information provided will help you to better access services available to you in the community and where necessary from the Police.

You have a right to be safe and feel safe.

Inspector Gary Davey LLM {Hons} BBS Chairman of the Police Managers’ Guild Trust

Keep the Burglers Out!

Finding a burglary in your home can be one of the most upsetting things to happen to you. Knowing a burglar has been in your home and rummaging through your things while you’ve been out feels like they’ve invaded your private space.

Long gone are the days of trusting that you can leave the doors unlocked. Securing your home now has to be part of an evening routine, whenever you leave the house, or when you’re home alone.

If you want to keep your home secure, think like a burglar. Have you lost your keys or left them at work and broken into your own home? How easy was it? Imagine how easy it would be for an experienced burglar. Have a look around your home and see what burglary risks you have. Do you windows open when you’re out?

The police have lots of tips you can use to keep you and your home safe. Here’s some of them:

• Lock ALL your doors and windows at night, if you’re going out, if you’re in the garden or if you’re home alone. Make sure all your locks and handles are strong. Upgrade them if they’re loose or need repair and install deadlocks if possible.

• Install sensor lights on access paths or around your main external doors.

• Install a “peep-hole” in a front door so you know who’s visiting.

• Ask any unannounced visitors who they are and what they want. Ask them to go somewhere (outside a closed window) where you can see them and their ID. If you’re not happy with their answers or their ID, don’t open the door.

• Don’t leave your keys under the front door mat or obvious hiding place. Again, think like a burglar – where would you look for keys?

• Separate your house keys from your vehicle keys – you don’t want the burglar using your vehicle to

load up with your possessions and have the doublewhammy of a car theft as well.

• Keep tools and ladders inside, or secured in a locked shed or garage. Burglars travel light, so they’ll look for useful tools on the property. Hammers, screwdrivers, crowbars etc are a burglar’s tools of trade, so keep your tools secure. Don’t leave a ladder leaning up against the house or readily available outside.

• Balance your privacy with security. Keep bushes and hedges trimmed back so there’s nowhere for a burglar to hide, especially close to windows and doors near the house.

• Keep a record of the serial numbers of valuable property and take photos of it. You can engrave property with an identifying number such as your driver licence number if it doesn’t already have a serial number. The most secure way is to use the “Snap” online security (see separate article).

• Keep valuables out of sight, especially away from windows.

• If you’ve recently bought a valuable item, destroy the packaging or hide it in the rubbish/recycling. Burglars will notice these things.

• If you’ve been burgled recently, double your security efforts. Burglars know you’ll replace stolen items with new, and might try again.

• Don’t leave a message on your answer phone that suggests you’re out or alone.

• If you live alone, especially as a woman, don’t use your first name in the telephone directory. Use initials.

• If you’re going away for a while, tell a trusted neighbour so they can keep an eye on the place. Tell them to call 111 if they see anything suspicious and give them a contact number for you. Get them to clear your mailbox daily or get the Post Office and newspaper office to hold your deliveries until you get back.

• Set up or join a Neighbourhood Support Group in your area and display Neighbourhood Support signs and stickers. It’s a great way to get to know your neighbours and develop plans to deal with problems or suspicious activity. Exchanging phone numbers or emergency contact details is a good start.

• Police are always interested in suspicious activity. Don’t hesitate to call the police to report something out of the ordinary and, if you see a crime being committed, call 111 immediately.

Why your place?

Information from the police and Neighbourhood Support suggests burglars like properties:

• Where it looks like no-one’s home – lights aren’t on at night, curtains are drawn during the day, and mail and newspapers are building up in the letterbox.

• Where a window or door is left open or unsecured.

• Where people can’t see what they’re doing from the street – trees and shrubs might block the view.

• That have alleyways running beside them or back onto parks, reserves or green belts.

• Where valuable items are left outside overnight, such as a bike.

• Where the garage door is open, they can see your car isn’t there and there’s something valuable inside, such as a lawnmower or chainsaw.

• They’ve been to before, knowing the layout, what’s in them and how to get out.

• They’ve burgled before, so they’ll try again when valuables have been replaced with new items.

Burglars don’t like:

• Houses with alarms

• Neighbours who support each other, talk to each other and take an interest in what’s going on around them, particularly people they don’t know or haven’t seen before.

• Neighbours who report suspicious activity to police and are able to give good descriptions of who and what they’ve seen.

• A vehicle in the driveway.

• Lights, TV or radio on.

• People who mark valuable property with serial numbers and keep a record of those numbers.

Remember if you see anything suspicious, call the police on 111.

Street wise, Street safe

Everyone is entitled to enjoy public places without fear for their personal safety. The reality, however, is that our streets are not always safe, so it pays to be street smart to stay safe. A little information, awareness and planning can be a big help.


If you’re heading out, especially at night, take a little time to plan.

• What will you take with you? If you’re taking something valuable, keep it hidden. Keep expensive jewellery covered up.

• Make sure you take your cellphone, and make sure it’s fully charged before you leave.

• Tell family, friends or flatmates where you’re going, when you expect to get home and whether you’re going to stay over somewhere for the night (if you are going to stay out, call them and let them know).

• Take your ID, some cash or an eftpos card so you don’t find yourself at a parking building with no money, or at a bus stop or taxi stand without the fare.

• Work out how you’re getting home – if it’s public transport, when do the buses and trains stop running?

• If you’re driving with mates and want to drink, work out who’s going to drive home so that person doesn’t drink.

When you’re out

There’s safety in numbers. Stick with your mates. If you’re going to be drinking, do so in moderation. The more you drink, the worse your decisions will be.

• If you’re drinking, have water or non-alcoholic drinks between each drink.

• Stick with your drink – don’t leave it unattended and only drink what you’ve seen poured in front of you.

• Keep an eye on your gear. Bags, cellphones and other gear is being stolen because people haven’t taken care. If you can’t hold on to your gear, at least put it somewhere you can see it all the time.

• Don’t leave with someone you’ve just met or accept a lift with a stranger.

• If you use a public toilet, find a busy one with lots of people around. Check to see no-one’s loitering nearby. Ask a mate to wait for you. Leave if you’re not comfortable.

• Use teller machines only if you think it’s safe. Pick one in a well-lit area at night. Shield your PIN number, make only small withdrawals if possible, and put your money away quickly.

If you think you’re being followed, cross the street, vary your pace and direction, and go to somewhere busy, such as a service station or fast food outlet. If you’re worried, call 111.

If you are confronted, be confident and assertive. Say loudly “Leave me alone” or words to that effect. If you have to physically defend yourself, go for the eyes, nose and genital area. Use whatever is handy – handbag, briefcase or umbrella. Dial 111 as soon as possible.

Don’t let them take your car

Theft of vehicles and from vehicles is still a major problem in New Zealand. Apart from the personal upset and inconvenience of having your vehicle stolen, insurance companies pay out (through your premiums) about $110 million a year.

Dealing with vehicle-related theft also ties up valuable police resources.

Most car thieves are looking for easy targets to take joyriding, to strip for parts to use or sell, or a vehicle to use to commit a crime. The car’s then dumped and often trashed or burnt out. Some vehicles are “re-birthed”, which means thieves use a real vehicle identification number – usually from a pranged vehicle – and apply it to a stolen vehicle of the same age, make and model. The stolen vehicle is then re-registered and sold to an unsuspecting buyer.

Theft from vehicles includes property such as wheels, stereos and personal items – purses and wallets, clothing, briefcases, laptops, cell phones and so on. Most of the time, thieves just force a lock or smash a window.

Reduce the risk

The police suggest the following steps will reduce the risk of having your vehicle stolen or broken into.

• Keep your keys with you and keep spares keys at home or work.

• Don’t hide a spare key on the car – thieves will find it.

• Always lock your car, including the boot and the sunroof if you have one.

• Park in busy, open, well-lit areas if possible.

• Use an attended, secure parking building if possible.

• If you have your vehicle in a garage at home, lock the garage and the car.


• Don’t leave things where people can see them.

• Take your valuable stuff with you or leave it at home

– not in the glove-box or under a seat.

• Keep larger items such as bags, luggage, coats etc locked out of sight in the boot.

• Keep a record of car stereo serial numbers.

Other ideas

Some of these steps might reduce your insurance premiums (talk to your insurance company).

• Install a car alarm

• Install an electronic engine immobiliser – they make it really hard to hot-wire or start a car without the right key, which contains an electronic code.

• Use a steering wheel club or lock, lockable fuel cap and lockable wheel nuts.

• Etch your registration or Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) on windows, windscreens and headlights.

Beware when buying

If you’re buying a vehicle and you want to be sure it’s a legitimate sale:

• Ensure the seller of the vehicle is the registered owner (if not, why not).

• Does the seller have both sets of keys?

• Does the seller have the original log books and history of servicing?

• Check all identification plates, engine and chassis numbers for tampering.

You can check online to see if a vehicle’s listed as stolen at www.police.govt.nz/stolen/vehicles. It’s a great website you can use to enter the vehicle’s registration number, VIN, engine or chassis number. The database the site accesses is updated by police three times per day, but there could be a brief delay in stolen vehicles appearing and in recovered vehicles being cleared from the list.

You can also download a file of stolen vehicles from the past six months by area, or all of New Zealand.

Found a stolen vehicle?

If you see a stolen vehicle being driven or if the occupants are nearby, call the police on 111 and let them deal with it. Don’t chase a stolen vehicle. If it’s been abandoned, call your local police station. Remember if you want to report it but don’t want anyone knowing who you are, call anonymously to Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111.

Your motorcycle

Don’t let the thieves get your bike, either.

• Keep your keys on you at all times.

• Use an ignition or steering lock.

• Use a strong, thick chain and “U” lock. Keep the chain off the ground to make it harder to cut.

• Secure your motorcycle to something solid that can’t be moved.

• Keep your helmet with you or use a helmet lock.

• Install an alarm or other immobiliser device.

• Etch or mark your motorcycle with your registration or Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).

• Garage your motorcycle and lock the bike and the garage.

• Use a motorcycle cover.

Stay safe online

Technology is always adapting and it’s here to stay, but many do not think about the safety risk in terms of cybersecurity. An online study revealed a startling figure: 74% of parents are in the dark about their kids’ online activities. The most important way to keep your kids safe online is to have frequent, open and honest discussions with your children about their lives.

Child safety with mobile phones and apps

Giving your child a smartphone comes with numerous benefits. A phone is an excellent safety tool; your child can use it to let you know they safely reached their destination, call you for a ride, or call in case of an emergency.

Implement smartphone rules with your child. Making sure your kids involve you in their phone activities will help keep them safe.

1. Always ask a parent before downloading a new app. Not all apps are safe, and many exploit kids with inapp purchases that get expensive really quickly.

2. Do not give your phone number to strangers or post it online.

3. Tell a parent if you receive something that makes you feel uncomfortable.

4. Do not answer a call or text message from an unrecognisable number.

5. Think about the messages you send. If you wouldn’t say it in person, don’t send it.

6. Follow any rules that your school sets for smartphone use in class or during school hours.

Set a personal example for your child. Don’t bring your phone to the dinner table, and don’t text and drive. You can also set up a charging station in a central location in your home. Phones should stay out of your child’s bedroom so they won’t be in use late at night.

Child safety with gaming consoles and online games

It is important to be careful about the kinds of games your children play. Console games that have an online component can leave your child open to abuse from other players. But games are also a great way for kids to develop a variety of skills such as problem-solving and how to work as part of a team. They can also be a great opportunity for family bonding.

1. Encourage your children to discuss the games they play.

2. Make sure your child profile is set to private, that they don’t use their full name or photo for their gaming profile, and, as with all other online platforms, not to share their personal information with other players.

3. Teach your child to block players who send threatening or bullying messages and to tell you about it.

4. Consider keeping the gaming console in a shared, social space.

5. Study the age rating and the kind of content in the games such as violent or sexual content.

6. Use parental controls to set up profiles.

7. Consider limiting in-game friends to children who your child already knows.

Child safety with social media

Social media usage is now ubiquitous amongst NZ teens;

Social media can be particularly addictive for tweens and teens. It also opens the door to a variety of different issues, like cyberbullying, inappropriate sharing, and talking to strangers.

Access to social media is also central to teens’ developing a social identity. It’s the way that they connect with their friends, and it can be a healthy way to hang out. The key is to figure out some boundaries so that it remains a positive experience.


Safe rules for Social Media

1. Discuss the pressure to share

Kids constantly feel pressure to share pictures and other details about their lives. Have a positive conversation about the value of privacy to help relieve them of that pressure.

2. Understand the permanence of social media

Remind your kids that there’s no such thing as deleting something on social media. Knowing that whatever they share is permanent (even if they take it down) will encourage them to think about what they post.

3. Educate them about online strangers

Predators use the internet to track and contact children. It’s important your child knows who they contact or accept friend requests from.

How to enforce a safe environment

1. Don’t let your kids on social media until they reach the required age.

2. Keep the computer in a public, accessible location where you can see your child’s activity.

3. Limit the amount of time your kids can be on social media or online.

4. Block location access to all social media apps.

5. Adjust the privacy settings to make your child’s account as private as possible.

6. Monitor your child’s activity online. Make sure the content they post is harmless with no identifiable features.


Our children’s lives have moved online. Unfortunately, their bullies have moved online too.

A child who is bullied may shut down their social media account and open a new one. They may begin to avoid social situations, even if they enjoyed being social in the past. Victims (and perpetrators) of cyberbullying often hide their screen or device when other people come into their vicinity and become cagey about what they do online. They may become emotionally distressed or withdrawn.

Ask gentle questions to determine the situation.

1. Work with teachers, mentors, and guidance counsellors to get support for your child.

2. Encourage your children to share with you if their friends or peers are bullied.

3. Educate your child about the repercussions of cyber-bullying.

4. Clarify that even liking or sharing hurtful content is unacceptable.

5. Encourage your child to reach out to others who are bullied and lend support.

What should you do if your child is bullied?

1. Document the bullying. Take screenshots of abusive messages or behaviour. This will help you report the bullying to the relevant authorities.

2. Talk to the teachers in school. Make sure they are aware of the situation.

3. Report is to their school. You can also report it to the social media or gaming platform where its hosted. If your child receives threats, don’t hesitate to contact the police.

Privacy and information security

As parents, we are most concerned about the effect of the online world on our children’s emotional and physical wellbeing. Children are susceptible to information security threats that can cause financial harm. There are a number of ways that hackers and thieves can get information out of children. Free downloadable games, movies, or even ringtones that market themselves to children can place viruses onto your computer and steal your information.

Hackers posing as legitimate companies like Google send emails purporting to ask for your child’s password. Or, they may pose as one of your children’s friends.

What should you communicate with your child?

• Have a discussion with your kids about the big threats online today. Make sure they know what a phishing attack and a disreputable games website look like, so they know not to fall for these scams.

• Make sure they keep all of their information private and that they never publish their full name, phone number, address, or school they attend in a public place.

• Tell your kids to avoid using public wifi – this is an easy way for hackers to get into their devices.

What you can do to create a safe environment:

• Install a strong antivirus program on your home computer and the devices of all family members.

• Install an ad blocker so your children won’t have to face deceptive advertising that encourages them to download malicious programs onto your computer.

• If your kids have smartphones, make sure that their security settings are set to maximum.

Viewing inappropriate content online

It’s not easy, but eventually, you will need to have a conversation with your children about what they might see online. Many children don’t go to their parents when they see something they perhaps shouldn’t have seen, for fear that their parents will be angry at them, and take away their devices or internet access. If your child comes to you with this type of issue, the best thing to do is to respond calmly and be open to discussion. Let them know you are there for them and are ready to answer any questions without judgment.

Communicate with your child:

• Let your kids know that they can always come to you if something is bothering them, or if they have questions about anything they have seen online.

• Let them know that it’s totally normal to be curious about sex. Direct them to positive online resources like Brook and Thinkuknow. Thinkuknow is particularly good for younger children, and it includes different, age-appropriate sites for different age groups. You may find it helpful to look through the site together and discuss some of the issues.

Steps you can take to block inappropriate content:

• Set filters to block inappropriate content like pornography. Your ISP (internet service provider) should provide free parental controls, as should most gaming consoles. These are usually pretty easy to set up.

• Set Google to “safe” mode so that your children won’t inadvertently see inappropriate content in search results.

• Install an ad blocker to prevent viruses that might have inappropriate content.

Online predators

Predators engage in a practice called “grooming”. In other words, they attempt to form a relationship with a child with the intention of later abusing them. 13% of kids with internet access are victims of sexual advances. Communicate with your child about the dangers of sexual predators.

It’s not always easy to tell if a child is being groomed, particularly because most keep it a secret from their parents. There are a number of warning signs: children who are being groomed by predators may become very secretive because the predator often threatens the child not to share information with their parents or friends. Children can also become sad and withdrawn, distracted, and have sudden mood swings. It is absolutely crucial to let your child know that you are there for them and that they can talk to you about anything.

What should you communicate with your child?

• Have a discussion with your child about the risks of online predators. Make sure they know to be careful about who they talk to online, and not to share any personal information with strangers.

• Tell your kids that they can come to you with any problem, no matter what it is.

• If you think that your child is at risk, seek support from their school, a social worker, and the police.

Nudes and Sexting

What is ‘sexting’?

Sexting is more commonly used for sending sexual messages but can also include:

• naked pictures or ‘nudes’

• ‘underwear shots’

• sexual or ‘dirty pics’

• sexual text messages or videos.

The sending of nude or sexually explicit images is a big issue affecting young people. Whilst sending nude images is not something new, with new digital technologies, it’s much easier for these images to be shared beyond the original recipient.

As a parent, it’s important to speak with your children about the potential risks in sharing a nude image. Similarly, it’s also important to discuss issues of consent and the implications of sharing a nude image of someone else as this can be considered an offence.

How common is it?

Research in New Zealand suggests that the rates of young people sharing nude images of themselves are relatively low (just 4% of young people aged between 14-17 surveyed had done so). What is more common however is pressure to share these images, with 1 in 5 young people having been asked to send a nude image. This is an alarming amount of expectation on our teenagers to send this content, which can be extremely damaging to their mental health and safety if shared. It’s important that as parents we teach our children that it isn’t actually as common as they might think and if they do get asked to they have every right to say no. Provide them with support and advice that isn’t emotionally charged and remind them of the dangers they face if they do decide to send photos.

What are the risks?

Once you send an image to someone else it’s more difficult to control what might happen to it. Sharing naked or semi-naked content, even in a trusted relationship, can cause issues. The images or videos could be widely reposted or shared as a “joke”, as a relationship ends or as friends become angry with each other. There are also situations where people blackmail others into sending more intimate images, by threatening to release the original image/video online if they don’t send more. It’s important that your child is aware that there are risks involved with sharing intimate images or videos.

A good way to help minimise the risk harm to your child if they do send a nude image and something goes wrong is to make a plan with your child ahead of time. This plan could cover who they would talk to if something goes wrong, discussing ways to report and remove harmful online content and more.

Why do people send nude images?

People send nudes for lots of reasons. These could be:

• feeling like ‘everyone else is doing it’ even if they’re not – especially if they’re exaggerating about sending photos or boasting about having them on their phone. Research in NZ shows that although a lot of young people have been asked for nudes, only a small number have actually sent one.

• going along with things they’re uncomfortable with because they’re worried about being seen as ‘not sexy’ or ‘shy’

• being bullied, threatened or blackmailed into sending pictures

• wanting someone’s approval or for someone to like them

• thinking they ‘owe’ their boyfriend or girlfriend or being made to feel guilty

• being in love with the person and trusting them completely

• having a long-distance or online relationship with someone and wanting to have a sexual relationship with them

• feeling proud of their body and wanting to share it with other people.

How do i prevent my child from sending nudes?

Young people will often learn about the concept of a ‘digital footprint’ at primary school – what you share, post or publish online becomes part of your digital record as it can be very hard to get information removed from online platforms and to clean up your personal profile. Talk to your kids about the risks of sharing personal information and sexual images and what can happen to those photos or videos once created and shared. Teach them how to use privacy settings to lock down social media accounts, restricting who can view your profile online and being cautious about sharing images.

My child has received nudes they didn’t want. What should i do?

Being sent a nude image they didn’t ask for can be upsetting. Teach your child to talk to a trusted adult about the message they were sent.

You can report the content or block the person from contacting your child again. This will stop them from sending more inappropriate pictures. If your child is underage and the person sending it is older, then this is a crime and the best thing to do is collect as much evidence as you can (screenshots etc.) and go to the Police. Remember that even though the age of consent in NZ is 16, any illicit photos of somebody under 18 is considered child porn. If they are the same age you can do a number of things:

• Call Netsafe for free advice on 0508 638 723

• Ask the person to stop sending nudes

• Your child can let the person know that it makes them feel uncomfortable and that they should have asked for consent before sending them

• Block the profile/account of the person who sent it

• Report the profile/account of the person who sent it

• Block the phone number of the person by contacting your phone provider (E.g. Spark, Vodafone etc.)

• If your child is being harassed by someone constantly sending unsolicited nudes, you can contact Netsafe for advice

• Inform the parents of the child who sent the photos if you feel comfortable enough to or you can let the school know and they can handle it.

My child sent a nude image to someone and they have shared it with others, or are threatening to do so. What should i do?

If the content has been shared on an online platform you should:

• Get your child to screenshot the content if possible for proof of the crime.

• Immediately report the content to the platform that it’s on (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube etc.)

• Report the profile/account of the person who shared the content to the platform (e.g. Facebook, Twitter etc.)

• Contact Netsafe to report the content and discuss the options available to you – call toll-free on 0508 NETSAFE (0508 638 723)

It’s illegal to share someone’s nude images, sharing someone’s nude or intimate images or videos online is called image-based abuse (sometimes also referred to as ‘revenge porn’) and it can be an offence under New Zealand law. Image-based abuse can be an offence under the Harmful Digital Communications Act, as well as a potential offence under other Acts. It can also be an offence to threaten to share images or videos without consent. It can still be an offence if the person originally shared or made the images/video with someone consensually, but they didn’t give consent for them to be shared to a wider group or publicly.

If prosecuted under the Harmful Digital Communications Act, the penalties for this offence can be a fine of up to $50,000 or up to two years’ jail for an individual and up to $200,000 for a body corporate. The majority of the criminal prosecutions for the Harmful Digital Communications Act in its first 18 months were for image-based abuse incidents.

You should contact Netsafe for help if this has happened to your child.

My child has shared an image of someone else. What should i do?

If you become aware that your child has shared a nude image of someone else you should contact Netsafe as soon as possible for advice on what to do next.

Sharing nude images without consent is a serious issue and can be a crime in New Zealand. There may be different rules and laws that apply depending on the age of the person whose image has been shared and the age of the person who shared the image.

Some important facts that are worth trying to find out prior to calling Netsafe may include:

• How many people was the image sent to?

• To you or your child’s knowledge, has the image spread further than who they originally sent it to?

• Where did the image come from? How did your child obtain the image?

• Who is the person in the image?

Netsafe can review the situation with you and give you advice on the steps you should take. Each situation is different and Netsafes’ team is on hand to provide information and support.

I’ve found naked photos on my child’s phone. What should i do?

As a parent, you may be shocked to find this content on your child’s device, however it’s important to try and keep your emotions from clouding your judgement whatever your initial internal reaction may be. The best way to respond is to use the discovery as a starting point for having a conversation with your child about sharing nude images. See section below about forming an online safety plan for if something goes wrong.

Online safety plan

It can be difficult to know where to start when thinking about keeping your children safe from harm online. Speaking with your children early about ways to stay safe online and what you’d both do if something were to go wrong is one of the best ways to help them navigate online challenges. It’s important that you and your child make this plan together so that both of you understand what to do if something goes wrong or they need help.

1. Figure out what they know already

The best place to start the conversation is by figuring out what your child knows already. Talk to them about issues they’ve seen happen to friends or at school and use this as a basis for your discussions with them. Ask them what advice they would give to their friend if they ran into trouble online, this can be a good way to gauge their understanding. Use these discussions as the starting point for the plan you develop together.

2. Let them know that you will support them no matter what

Research shows that many young people feel they would rather speak to a friend than a parent or other trusted adult for fear of being judged. It’s important to let them know that they can talk to you about anything and that you will be there to support them no matter what.

3. Talk about who they can reach out to if they need help

If something does go wrong online it’s important that your child speaks to someone about it. Discuss who might be appropriate for them to speak to if they need help. This could be you, a close friend, a trusted family member, a teacher or a support service such as Netsafe.

It’s also a good idea to talk about who they would talk to if they didn’t feel comfortable talking to you, that

way you know whatever goes wrong they know who they can go to for help and support.

4. Discuss ways to report or remove harmful content

Most social media sites have a ‘report’ function to allow people to report content that is in violation of their terms of service. Make sure your child knows how to block someone, report content and how to use their privacy settings.

If you or your child need help to remove harmful content online you can contact Netsafe for help. They can offer help for all situations – big or small.

5. Have emergency contact details on hand in case you need it

As a parent, it can be hard to think about things going very wrong for your child online. In case of an urgent situation, it’s worth having an understanding of what services are available and when you should contact them just in case. We’ve put together a list of services you can turn to if you or your child need help.

If your child is in risk of imminent danger or a crime is being committed contact the police on 111 immediately for help.

Social media safety centres

Facebook – www.facebook.com/safety/tools/safety

Snapchat – www.snapchat.com/l/en-gb/safety

Instagram – https://help.instagram.com/285881641526716

YouTube – www.youtube.com/yt/policyandsafety/ safety.html

Twitter – https://about.twitter.com/safety/families

Keep kids safe

Forget the house, the car or the flash TV. Our kids are our most precious asset and deserve special care and attention, especially when they’re most vulnerable – on and around the roads.

As adults, we are the biggest influencers of kids’ behaviour in the community. If kids see us running across the road in front of traffic or cycling without a helmet, they will see that as OK.

If they walk to school, walk with them several times so you can identify the hazards and show them what to do. Show them why using a pedestrian crossing is important, and the dangers of crossing the road.

We also need to be alert to the special way kids react to situations. As drivers, we should take care when we see kids, or where they’re likely to be (around schools, playgrounds and school buses). Slow down and be extra vigilant. By their very nature, kids are impulsive and bad judges of distance and speed, so even if they see you, they might still run onto the road.

Every year about 40 children die as pedestrians and about 100 are seriously injured – mostly going to or from school, or near their homes. Child pedestrian injuries account for about a third of all traffic-related child deaths.

So what can we do to keep our kids safe on the road? At a basic level, we can:

• Teach kids how to use pedestrian crossings and controlled intersections safely.

• Use a “walking school bus” or set one up if there isn’t one already (see below).

• Use a school travel plan.

• Keep your vehicle speed around kids very slow – around school buses the law says you must travel at only 20km/h (in both directions).

Walking school buses

A great innovation that is gaining support throughout the country is what’s known as “walking school buses”, initiated in New Zealand by the organisation Safekids NZ.

It’s essentially a group of parents who walk with up to eight primary school children to ensure they get safely to and from school. The kids are dropped off and picked up at stops on a designated route by their parents. The route is usually about a kilometre long and is assessed for suitability by a traffic engineer.

Safekids says the key benefits of the walking school buses are:

• Reducing the known risk factors for child pedestrian injury.

• Reducing car congestion around schools (an average of 21 fewer cars traveling to school per route).

• Greater awareness by everyone in the community on the role they play in child pedestrian safety.

Cycle safety

Nearly 500 children a year are hospitalised after cycle accidents and on average two children die each year (most of them boys). Boys aged 10-14 years are at greatest risk of fatal injury.

The main messages for child cyclists are:

• Be smart – plan safe cycle routes with an adult, the best riders are skilled riders.

• Be safe – no helmet no bike.

• Be seen – wear bright colours, and use reflective gear such as high-visibility vests and backpack covers to give you a better chance of other road users seeing you.


New Zealand is somewhat unique in having long driveways on properties, especially in the smaller rural towns. This is because the “quarter-acre section” traditionally had the garage at the back of the section.

The danger of the long driveway is the distance cars often have to travel in reverse, which limits drivers’ ability to see small children. Vision from a driver’s seat can be restricted for up to 10 metres from the back of the car.

Every two weeks a child is hospitalised with serious injuries received from a vehicle driving on a private driveway in New Zealand. Another five kids are killed annually, on average. Most injuries are to toddlers about two years old and are often severe. The driver is usually a close family member, resulting in devastating effects on families.

A recent Safekids campaign has raised awareness throughout the country of how to be more safety conscious on driveways. The message is that you should know where the kids are before you get in the car, because if an accident happens, there’s no going back.

Check, supervise and separate:

• Check for children before driving off.

• Supervise children around vehicles – always.

• Separate play areas from driveways.

Also have someone watch around your vehicle as you leave to ensure no kids are nearby, and get visitors to park on the road.

Safety seats

A recent law change means all children aged up to 7 must be in an appropriate child restraint (such as a booster seat) in a vehicle, and those aged between 7-8 must use one if it’s available. The change aims to reduce the injury and fatality rate for young children by ensuring they’re not restrained in an adult seat belt. In any event, it’s recommended that kids use a child restraint or booster seat at least until they’re 148cm tall.

One of the leading causes of injury involves children as passengers in vehicles. About 15 children a year die and about 300 end up in hospital. Booster seats for pre-school and school-aged kids have been shown to reduce the risk of hospitalisation and death by up to 59 percent.

Keep the kids safe by:

• Always using the correct child restraint and booster seat for your child’s height and age.

• Following the manufacturers’ instructions for your child restraint.

• Making sure your child restraint or booster seat correctly fits your vehicle.

• Getting help installing your child restraint or booster. Contact an NZTA-certified child restraint technician for support and to get help to correctly install a child restraint.

• Putting kids in the back seat where it’s safest.

Source, and for further information: Safekids New Zealand – www.safekids.org.nz

Stay safe around water

Drowning is the third most common cause of accidental death in New Zealand, behind road vehicle accidents and falls.

Being safe in the water doesn’t mean you can’t have fun, but thinking about your safety and that of family and friends can save lives.

As an island country, New Zealand has a wealth of water-based activities. Whether it’s a swim at the beach, a dip in the river, adrenaline-packed whitewater rafting, fishing from rocks, out on the boat or anything else involving water, the best thing you can do before heading out is to familiarise yourself with the appropriate safety information.

As with most activities there’s an element of risk, so make sure you challenge yourself within your limits and ask questions before heading out.

Always remember the four rules of the Water Safety Code.

1. Be prepared

Learn to swim and survive, and set rules for safe play in the water. Always use safe and correct equipment and know the weather and water conditions before you get in.

2. Watch out for yourself and others

Always pay close attention to children you are supervising in or near water. Swim with others and in areas where lifeguards are present.

3. Be aware of the dangers

Enter shallow and unknown water feet first and obey all safety signs and warning flags. Don’t enter the water after drinking alcohol.

4. Know your limits

Challenge yourself within your physical limits and experience. Learn safe ways of rescuing others without putting yourself in danger.


If you’re heading out on a boat, remember the rules of the Boating Safety Code.

1. Life jackets – take them, wear them

Boats, especially ones of less that 6 metres in length, can sink very quickly. Wearing a life-jacket increases your survival time in the water.

2. Skipper responsibility

The skipper is responsible for the safety of everyone on board and for the safe operation of the boat. Stay within the limits of your vessel and your experience. Go on a Coastguard Boating Education day skipper course to make sure you have all the skills you need to stay safe.

3. Communications

Take two separate waterproof ways of communicating so you can call for help if you get into difficulty.

4. Marine weather

New Zealand’s weather can be highly unpredictable. Check the local marine weather forecast before you go and expect both weather and sea changes.

5. Avoid alcohol

Safe boating and alcohol don’t mix. Things can change quickly on the water. You need to stay alert and aware.

For more information on the Water Safety Code and the Boating Safety Code, visit www.adventuresmart.org.nz


Under 5s

Water is a life-threatening hazard for young children in and around the home. Make sure you keep you eyes on your children when they’re in or around water – including in the bath.

Children learn by exploring their environment – new adventures are only a few steps away – so don’t let your guard down around any body of water. It takes only 60 seconds for a child to drown.

For more information, see http://www.watersafety. org.nz/education/recreation-advice/under-5s/

Learning to swim

While many people think everyone knows how to swim, the scary thing is that a lot of kids today can’t.

Make sure your kids have the opportunity to learn to swim – either at school, at a private swim school, or even by teaching them yourself!

For more information, see www.swimming.org.nz/kiwi-swim-safe.

Stay fire safe

A simple fact: the best way to prevent injury and death from house fires is to have smoke alarms installed and working properly.

There’s no dispute that working smoke alarms save lives, and most houses in New Zealand now have them installed. If you don’t have them in your home, you’re putting your family at grave risk. Likewise if you have smoke alarms but they’re not installed properly or they’re not working, you’re also putting your family at risk.

House fires often happen when people are asleep and unable to detect smoke, so working smoke alarms are a vital part of your home safety plan. The New Zealand Fire Service offers the following useful advice on where to install (and not to install) smoke alarms.

Smoke alarms

Smoke rises and moves along the ceiling. It will move up stairwells and vertical openings, gradually building up until the mass of smoke moves down again. This is why you should place smoke alarms on the ceiling – to get the earliest warning. If you must put it on the wall, keep it 10cm away from the ceiling to avoid dead air pockets.

The best alarms are long-life photoelectric ones, which should be installed ideally in every bedroom, living area and hallway in the house – on every level. At an absolute minimum, a long-life photoelectric smoke alarm should be installed in the hallway closest to the bedrooms. This should be supplemented with other alarms throughout the house as soon as circumstances permit.

The Fire Service recommends both interconnected and hard-wired alarms. Interconnected means that when one smoke alarm detects a fire, all alarms throughout the house will sound. Hard-wired means the alarms are connected to mains power, making them more reliable.

Don’t install smoke alarms in the kitchen, garage or bathroom unless the alarms are specially designed for those areas. Also not above a fire box, in a basement store room or near an extraction fan.

Too many homes are fitted with smoke alarms but are unsafe because the alarm batteries are flat or missing. To maximise your family’s fire safety:

• Check the battery once a month by pressing the test button. If you can’t reach the button easily, use a broom handle.

• Avoid the disturbance of a “cheeping” alarm that indicates the batteries need replacing. Replace batteries at least once a year and make it a habit by picking a regular date such as a birthday or the beginning or end of daylight saving time.

• Buy long-life photoelectric smoke alarms. This will give you about 10 years of smoke detection before it needs replacing.

• Install smoke alarms that feature a “hush” button to stop nuisance alarms.

• Keep smoke alarms clean.

• Vacuum over and around smoke alarms regularly to stop dust and debris interfering with the alarms operation.

Your escape plan

You’ll probably have one or two minutes from the time a fire alarm sounds to when your life is seriously threatened by fire or smoke. Having – and practising – an escape plan so everyone in the household knows what to do could save lives.

• Work out the best way out of every room, then pick a secondary route in case the first is blocked by fire.

• Keep all doorways clear of obstructions.

• Choose a meeting place outside, for example the letterbox.

• Keep your cellphone handy so you can grab it as you leave the house (don’t go looking for it). Call 111 and ask for the Fire Service. If you don’t have your phone, call from a neighbour’s home or someone else’s mobile phone.

In the kitchen

The Fire Service says more house fires start in the kitchen than anywhere else in the home. Cooking that’s left unattended accounts for more deaths than any other cause of fire, and frying is the leading cause of cooking fires. To keep the family safe:

• Turn off the stove if you must leave the room, and take pots and pans off the heat.

• Put a timer on for any baking to remind you the oven needs to be turned off.

• Clean your stove grill after each use to prevent build-up of fats and burnt foods.

• Clean the range-hood filters regularly.

• Keep curtains, tea towels, oven mitts, electrical cords and other items well away from the cooking area.

• Have a fire extinguisher and/or fire blanket handy and know how to use them.

• Never throw water on to a burning fry-pan. If it’s on fire, wet a tea-towel and place it over the pan, use a proper fitting lid or a large flat object (such as a chopping board) to starve the fire of oxygen.

• Never try to carry a burning fry-pan outside.

• Don’t throw flour on a burning fry-pan (an urban myth) to extinguish the fire. Flour can burn, too.

• If you do have a fire on your stove, try (if you can) to turn the power or gas off either at the stove or at the mains.

• Don’t drink and fry food. Alcohol is a factor in 50 percent of all fatal fires.

Living room

Half of all people who die in fires are careless with their cigarettes, matches or lighters.

• Put out all smoking materials before you leave a room.

• NEVER leave lit cigarettes unattended.

• Keep matches and lighters out of children’s reach.

• Screen open fires and fire boxes with a proper fireguard and NEVER leave open fires unattended.

• Check the chimney regularly and have it swept every year.

• Dispose of ashes safely in a metal bucket. Ashes can take up to five days to cool so dampen them with water or store the bucket well away from buildings or anything flammable. Don’t throw hot ashes into rubbish bins.

• Don’t use flammable liquids to start an open fire.

• Don’t overload power-points or multi-boards with high wattage appliances such as heaters.

• Don’t hang clothes on the heater to dry them out.


Candles can look and smell attractive, but can also be a serious fire hazard.

• NEVER leave candles unattended.

• Ensure the candle is placed on a fireproof surface, such as a ceramic plate.

• Don’t let children use candles, especially in the bedroom.

• Check that lamps have the correct bulb size and rating (in watts), according to manufacturer specifications.

• Keep a torch near the bed.

Worn and old electric blankets can cause electric shock, fire and even death.

• Have your electric blanket tested annually by a qualified electrician.

• Turn off the electric blanket power when you get into bed.

• Don’t put heavy objects on the bed while the electric blanket is turned on.

• Ensure blanket controls are not twisted or caught between the mattress and base.

• Ensure the blanket is tightly secured and laid flat on the bed.

• When not in use, store your electric blanket rolled up, not folded.

• Electric blankets are not recommended for babies or young children as bed-wetting can occur.


Barbecues are dangerous if you use them carelessly or if you’ve been drinking alcohol.

• Check and maintain barbecue fittings and connection.

• Keep the area around the BBQ clear.

• Supervise children at all times around the barbecue.

• Remove all excess fat after each use.

Other areas:

• Store flammable liquids and other products in appropriate containers in the shed.

• Keep the shed locked.

• Ensure your shed has good ventilation.

• Know where gas isolation valves are in your home.

• Have all gas appliances serviced according to manufacturer instructions.


Overloading electrical circuits (including multi-board power boxes), misusing electrical equipment, and having faulty equipment are common causes of fire.

• If you’re worried about how well appliances are working, such as electric blankets, heaters, air conditioners or fans, have them checked by a qualified electrician.

• Don’t overload your multi-board with double adaptors – one appliance per multi-board or wall socket.

• Ensure that leads on appliances are in good condition and not frayed.

• Don’t use extension cords as permanent replacements for your home’s internal wiring. Never put them under carpets or mats or use them while they’re tightly coiled.

• Turn off and, where practical, unplug appliances when they’re not being used.

• Keep electrical appliances clear of water.

• Get a licensed electrician or gas fitter to test newly bought second-hand appliances.

• Don’t put fans, heaters, and electrical equipment where airflow is restricted – they can get overheated.

If you have an older home, you might have outdated electrical wiring that can cause fires. Get it checked by a registered electrician and if necessary, have your home rewired.


Static electricity and the build-up of heat can make dust, lint and chemical residue on clothing catch fire.

• Remove lint from the clothes dryer filter after each use.

• Ensure the dryer goes through the full cycle, including cool down.

• Turn off and unplug the dryer and washing machine before leaving the house.

• Regularly dust the grill at the back of the clothes dryer to prevent dust build-up and overheating.

• Ensure there is proper ventilation and air space around the clothes dryer.

A word about sprinklers

Sprinklers might be an expensive option, but very effective at putting out fires. If you’re building a new house, consider installing sprinklers. US statistics indicate they reduce the likelihood of death by 83 percent and reduce property loss by 71 percent (www.firesprinklerinitiative.org).

Nightly fire check

Do a fire check every night before you turn out the lights. Check to see that:

• Kitchen appliances are turned off and safe.

• Heaters are turned off, and furniture and clothes are at least a metre away from the fireplace.

• The ashtray been emptied into a metal bin outside.

• The TV has been switched off using the power switch on the set and not the remote control standby.

• Any candles are out.

• Kitchen and living room doors are closed to slow a fire spreading to the bedrooms.

• The house secure and keys are in the deadlocks.

• Passageways are clear.

Stay quake safe

The recent Canterbury earthquakes have highlighted the fact that New Zealand could be hit by a natural disaster at any time, taking lives and causing huge physical and economic damage. We need to be prepared.

The threat of further earthquakes anywhere in the country is very real, but storms, floods, volcanic eruption, tsunamis, landslides and other events can also seriously disrupt our lives. While this chapter focuses on the threat of earthquakes, much of the advice is relevant to other natural disasters (for more information on these, see www.getthru.govt.nz).

Living with the risk of disaster means we have to be prepared – firstly to survive the initial effects; then to be resilient enough to be on our own for a period of time (at least three days) without the assistance of emergency services, and without water, electricity and sewerage systems; and finally to recover as quickly as possible. The following information is provided with the assistance of the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management, and includes the latest safety strategies.

Earthquakes offer no warning, so you could be at home, school or work when one strikes. Think now about where you can get to quickly to be safe. For example:

• A strong table (perhaps your desk at work) provides good protection. Grab the table legs to stop the table from moving.

• Next to an interior wall, away from windows that can shatter and cause injury and tall furniture that can fall on you. Protect your head and neck with your arms. (Note that modern homes don’t generally have doorways that are any stronger than the wall, and the doors can swing and injure you.)

• Practise the Drop, Cover and Hold routine. It’s internationally recognised as the best strategy for earthquake survival (beware of bogus email advice such as the “triangle of life” that has been widely discredited). In an earthquake, the routine means moving no more than a few steps (away from buildings, trees, street lights and power lines if outside) and then:

• Drop to the floor or ground. This will help to prevent injury not only from flying glass and other objects, but also from being knocked to the ground by the quake.

• Take COVER under a nearby table or desk. If nothing is nearby or you’re outside, COVER your face and head with your arms.

• HOLD on to something sturdy, such as the table legs, until the shaking stops.

• If you’re in an elevator, drop, cover and hold. When the shaking stops, try and get out at the nearest floor if you can safely do so.

• If you’re at the beach or near the coast, drop, cover and hold then move to higher ground immediately in case a tsunami follows the quake.

• If you’re driving, pull over to a clear location, stop and stay there with your seatbelt fastened. When the shaking stops, drive on if you think it’s safe and avoid bridges or ramps that might have been damaged.

After a quake

• Listen to a local radio station – emergency management officials will broadcast advice that’s appropriate for your community and situation.

• Expect to feel aftershocks.

• Check yourself for injuries and get first aid if necessary. Help others if you can.

• Electricity could be cut, and fire alarms and sprinkler systems can go off in buildings during an earthquake even if there’s no fire. Check for small fire and put them out if you can.

• If you’re in a damaged building, try to get outside and find a safe, open place. Use the stairs, not the elevators.

• Watch out for fallen power lines or broken gas lines, and stay out of damaged areas.

• Use the phone for short essential calls to keep the lines clear for emergency calls.

• If you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise, open a window, get everyone out quickly and turn off the gas if you can. If you see sparks, broken wires or electrical system damage, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box if it’s safe to do so.

• Control your animals because they can become disorientated. They might need to be protected from hazards, and they could annoy or attack other people.

• When it’s safe to do so, take notes and photographs for insurance purposes if your property is damaged. If you rent your property, contact your landlord and your contents insurance company as soon as possible.

Household emergency plan

Images of people queuing for water and digging toilets in their back yard after the February 2011 Canterbury earthquake show that life will not necessarily return quickly to normal. In a serious earthquake, you might not be able to leave your home or communicate with other people, or you might have to leave your damaged home.

Emergency services are unlikely to reach you immediately. That’s why you need a plan that ensures you and your family can survive for at least three days on your own. So get your family or household together and work on the plan. To help, the website www.getthru.govt.nz has a template for a household emergency plan you can use. Your local council will also be able to help.

It pays to ask your council about the community’s civil defence warning system, and where civil defence or public shelters are. It’s also useful to learn first aid and how to deal with small fires.

Other important stuff

• Check your insurance policy for cover (home, business and contents) and ensure your cover is adequate. Know where your important documents and keep them within easy reach if you have to evacuate.

Seek qualified advice to make sure your house is secured to its foundations and ensure any renovations comply with the New Zealand Building Code.

Stay safe with alcohol

Alcohol is a drug that has a significant effect on the level of violence in New Zealand. It’s a major factor in family violence, street violence and sexual offending, and contributes to road crashes and property damage.

Its effects are wide-reaching and devastating for too many families. More deaths and injuries involve alcohol than any other drug.

Of all reported crime, the police say alcohol is a factor in:

• a third of all violence

• a third of all family violence

• half of all serious violence

• half of all drugs and anti-social offences

• at least 1 in 5 cases of sexual offending

• 1 in 4 traffic offences

• 1 in 4 property offences.It’s also a factor in 1 in 5 traffic crashes.

Alcohol-related issues use up at least 18 percent of the total police budget.

Alcohol has been a part of socialising in New Zealand since the early settlers arrived in the mid-1800s. Nearly 200 years later, a culture of “binge drinking” has emerged, especially with many young people.

Having a good time doesn’t need to involve copious amounts of alcohol. Binge drinking is not fun – it can cause severe drunkenness, vomiting, shakiness, headaches and bad hangovers. Binge drinkers are at risk of alcohol poisoning, which can lead to coma or even death. Heavy or regular drinkers also risk long-term damage to their liver, brain, lungs, heart, and stomach, as well as an increased risk of cancer. They also risk becoming dependent on alcohol.

If you’re having trouble enjoying yourself without a drink, you could have a problem.

The Health Promotion Agency (HPA) – which has taken over the functions of the old Alcohol Advisory Council – suggests that you should ask yourself:

• Do I find it difficult to stop drinking once I start?

• Does bad stuff often happen when I drink?

• Have I ever come around in A&E?

• Has drinking got me in trouble with the law?

• Do I suffer monster hangovers?

• Does drinking cause trouble with whānau/family?

• Does drinking get in the way of work?

• Do I seem to never have any money?

• Do I want to change my drinking habits?

If you can answer yes to any of these questions you probably have a problem. If you want to make some changes, take a look at www.alcohol.org.nz or call the Alcohol Drug Helpline (0800 787 797).

The HPA suggests that if you would like to cut down:

• Work out a personal limit per day, per week or per occasion – and stick to it.

• Do more activities that don’t involve drinking.

• Ring the Alcohol Drug Helpline for free, confidential advice and resources to help you cut down.

When you’re out drinking:

• Eat before you drink and while you’re drinking.

• Start with non-alcoholic drinks and alternate with alcoholic drinks.

• Try drinks with a lower alcohol content, but don’t make that an excuse for drinking more.

• Drink slowly.

• Don’t allow others to top up your drink.

• Count your drinks and stick to your limit.

• Tell your friends that you’re cutting down.

• Don’t drive.

Don’t drink if:

• You’re pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant.

• You’re on medication or if you have a condition made worse by drinking.

• You feel unwell, depressed, tired or cold as alcohol could make things worse.

• You’re about to operate machinery or a vehicle or do anything that is risky or requires skill.

Parents of teens

For children and young people under 18 years of age, not drinking alcohol is the safest option. Young people under the age of 15 are at the greatest risk of harm from drinking alcohol and not drinking for them is especially important. For those aged 15 to 17 years, the safest option is to delay drinking for as long as possible.

If 15-17 year-olds do drink alcohol, they should be supervised, drink infrequently and at moderate levels.

Be aware that teenagers are likely to at least try drinking alcohol and might get drunk. Being a good role model will help, and discussing alcohol rationally at a quiet moment (not when they’re drunk) will help.

If you do find a teen rolling drunk and unconscious, call 111 for an ambulance.

If they’re vomiting all the time, don’t leave them alone. Lie them on their side in the recovery position, monitor their breathing and heart rate and make sure their mouth is empty. Keep them warm. If there’s no improvement, dial 111 for an ambulance.

Set ground rules for parties and stick to them.

If they take your alcohol, treat it just like any other stealing in the family. Discuss what happened and follow through with reasonable consequences.

If they become violent when drunk, don’t put up with it. If you can’t control the situation, call someone who can come quickly, like a friend or the police.

Signs of alcohol abuse

Signs that a teenager might be drinking excessively include:

• Repeated health complaints like vomiting.

• Changes in sleep patterns.

• Mood changes, especially irritability.

• Starting arguments, withdrawing from the family or breaking family rules.

• Failing exams, missing assignments, frequent school absences or discipline problems at school.

• Changes in social activities and social groups or friends.

• Coming home drunk.

• Smell of alcohol on their clothes, breath, skin, etc.

• Missing sport, school, family events, etc.

• Changes in behaviour – not being where they say they are going to be, etc.

These signs don’t necessarily indicate a drink problem, so consider discussing your concerns with your GP to rule out other causes. If you need more help, ring the Alcohol Drug Helpline.

How to get help - to find more resources and help on this topic and others, please refer to our Directory section at the back of this journal, or www.pmgt.org.nz/directory.

Stay safe with drugs

Statistically New Zealand has some of the highest rates of drug use in the world (2012 United Nations World Drug Report).

Cannabis use is particularly high, largely because we have ideal growing conditions and it doesn’t need to be imported. The UN report showed between 9.1 and 14.6 percent of the population used cannabis, compared to an estimated 2.6 to 5 percent worldwide.

Our relatively high use of drugs has created a health issue that is being dealt with through police enforcement and border security; legislation to make it more difficult to get raw materials – such as making pseudoephedrine prescription only (which can be used to make the drug methamphetamine); and education through organisations such as the New Zealand Drug Foundation and the police drug education in schools (CHOICE) programme.

The statistics are not necessarily gloomy. There are some positive signs, such as a reduction in the number of young people using drugs. Recent publicity about drug use in high-level sport also helps to portray drugs as socially unacceptable.

Programmes such as CAYAD (Community Action Youth and Drugs – www.cayad.org.nz), and needle exchange programmes are playing a positive role in reducing drug use in our communities.

Helping our kids

As parents we can do much to influence our children’s behaviour. Are we good role models? If we’re using illicit drugs around our kids, they’ll believe it’s OK.

The conversation about drugs should start early. It doesn’t need to be a big deal, but one that acknowledges they will be exposed to drug use at some point in their life. Helping them to understand how they should handle it, without making any judgements, is important.

Be aware that your kids might already be using drugs, but don’t assume it’s the case. You’ll quickly lose your child’s confidence if you accuse them of something illegal. If you have any suspicions, the Foundation for Alcohol and Drug Education (www.fade.org.nz) says that if your child exhibits several of the signs listed below, then they might be using drugs:

Physical signs

• Cannabis, in particular, can cause the eyes to become reddened, watery and puffy. Dilated or pinpoint pupils.

• Cannabis and alcohol both have distinctive smells. Cannabis smoke has a strong sweet smell that’s very different from tobacco smoke.

• Slurred and slow speech.

• Poor coordination – staggering or stumbling.

• Lack of pride in personal appearance and poor hygiene.

• Chronic coughing.

• Changes in appetite.

• Sudden change in weight.

• Lack of energy and general lethargy.

• Disturbed sleep patterns.

• Occasional memory loss.

Behavioural signs

• Decrease in sport or hobby involvement.

• Mood swings and increasingly withdrawn from family and some friends.

• Unusual or suspicious requests for money.

• Drop in school grades and homework not done.

• Different friends appear on the scene combined with a reluctance to introduce these friends.

• Frequent unexplained phone calls.

• More irritable.

• Less affectionate.

• Not worried about the consequences of their actions.

• Reluctance to do household chores.

• Persistent lying, evasion or secretive behaviour.

• Cash or valuable items going missing.

• A complete change in appearance.

• Late coming home at night and late getting ready for school.

• Sleeping in late.

• Becomes argumentative or hostile when the negative effects of drug use are discussed.

• Blames other people for their behaviour, for example parents, teachers and siblings.

• Using incense or air fresheners in the bedroom.

What are drugs?

The Drug Foundation says a drug is a substance – solid, liquid or gas – that changes the functions or structures of the body in some way. It might change the way someone acts or thinks. This obviously excludes food and water, which are required to maintain normal body functioning.

Almost everyone takes some kind drug, perhaps to keep healthy or fight illness, but drugs can be harmful if misused – that’s why laws restrict their manufacture, distribution and use.

The drugs creating a health problem in New Zealand are those that affect a person’s central nervous system. They act on the brain and can change the way a person thinks, feels or behaves. These are called “psychoactive” drugs.

The harm from these drugs to individuals and the community are clear. Anyone using them can suffer from poor health, have distorted family and social interactions, psychological and emotional difficulties, legal and economic problems, and possibly death. The Drug Foundation says it’s important to remember that many people start and continue to use drugs to find relief and escape from problems.

There are three main types of drugs, classified by their effects on the central nervous system. These are depressants, hallucinogens and stimulants.

Depressants slow down the functions of the central nervous system. They don’t necessarily make you feel depressed. Moderate amounts of depressants can make you feel relaxed. Some depressants cause euphoria and a sense of calm and well-being. They may be used to “wind down” or to reduce anxiety, stress or inhibition. Examples include alcohol, cannabis, benzodiazepines, and opiates.

Hallucinogens change the way you perceive or experience the world. You might see or hear things that don’t exist. They can affect your thinking, sense of time and emotions. Effects can include panic, paranoia and loss of contact with reality. In extreme cases, this can result in dangerous behaviour, like walking into traffic or jumping off a roof. Examples include LSD and ecstasy.

Stimulants speed up or stimulate the central nervous system and can make you feel more awake, alert and confident. They increase heart rate, body temperature and blood pressure. They also reduce appetite, dilate pupils, and lead to talkativeness, agitation and sleep disturbance. Large quantities of stimulants can cause anxiety, panic, seizures, headaches, stomach cramps, aggression and paranoia. Examples include cocaine, methamphetamine, speed, party pills and even caffeine.

Common drugs

The Drug Foundation has plenty of useful information about the most common illicit drugs and their effects (see websites at the end of this section). These include:


Cannabis is the most commonly used illegal drug in New Zealand. The most recent drug use survey (Ministry of Health 2007–08) found that 46.4 percent of people aged 16–64 have used cannabis in their lifetime. Cannabis is illegal to grow, sell, distribute or possess.

The effects of cannabis use vary from person to person. Generally, however, its short-term effects include users feeling stoned or “out of it”. Although it’s a depressant, using it doesn’t mean you’ll get depressed – just that it has a mellowing effect. You can also feel happy, relaxed or uninhibited, but some people feel anxious, selfconscious or have paranoid thoughts.

Cannabis can impair short-term memory and attention span, which makes it harder to complete tasks or concentrate on doing several things at once. Young people who use cannabis can have their concentration and motivation affected, which can harm how well they do at school.

Cannabis is addictive, despite some common misconceptions. There is evidence that prolonged use can increase the risk of developing cancer. There’s also an increased risk of developing chronic bronchitis, damage to the lungs and other respiratory problems.

People with mental health problems are particularly sensitive to the effects of cannabis. It can exacerbate conditions such as paranoia, depression and anxiety. Chronic use can affect fertility in both men & women.


Methamphetamine (meth, or P) is a synthetic drug that’s a powerful stimulant. It can be a powder, a crystallike-rock, or a pill. Its effects can vary from person to person and depend on the strength of the product. Using methamphetamine produces wakefulness, hyperactivity and often euphoria.

Using it doesn’t necessarily make you violent, though it can cause erratic behaviour or agitation. All kinds of people use it – it’s not confined to any group of society.

Methamphetamine poses great health risks. Heavy users lose the ability to look after themselves, neglecting sleep, eating, washing and exercise. In extreme cases, lack of sleep and food can induce a drug psychosis. Long-term use can cause anxiety and depression, damage to the nervous system and susceptibility to infection and disease.

Other drugs

Ecstasy is the street name for the stimulant methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA). It’s usually sold in pill form and is often cut with other substances such as methamphetamine, caffeine and BZP. It’s often referred as the “love drug” because it can induce empathy, euphoria, and a closeness and openness to others. Ecstasy is addictive and risks include over-heating, dehydration and water intoxication. Another risk is not knowing what’s in the pill. Ecstasy is often cut with other drugs.

Benzodiazepines are prescription medicines that are usually prescribed as a sedative or to relieve anxiety. They’re a depressant, which means they help slow the body’s system down and have sleep inducing properties. Used as prescribed, they will make you feel drowsy, relaxed and relieved of tension and anxiety. However, because they’re very addictive, they’re usually intended to be used only short-term.

GHB comes in two forms – a clear odourless liquid, or a white powder that’s usually made into tablets or capsules. It’s most commonly used in liquid form, which is sometimes mixed with alcohol. GHB is a strong sedative and is often used as an alcohol replacement. GHB is highly addictive. You can become physically and psychologically addicted if it’s used regularly. The risk of overdose is high because it can be difficult to judge the potency.

LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) is a hallucinogenic drug. In its pure form, it’s colourless, odourless and mildly bitter. LSD is diluted from its crystalline form, and paper is sometimes soaked in the liquid to produce “tabs” of acid. LSD will distort a user’s reality. Their senses and emotions will be heightened and a “trip” can last up to 12 hours. Because it’s difficult to tell the potency of a dose, the effects can be variable and unpredictable. A bad trip can cause the user to feel like they have things crawling on their skin, lose control of their emotions or feel like they have lost their grip on reality. People who have existing mental health issues can also be at risk from LSD use because it can exacerbate symptoms of their illness or trigger LSD psychosis. Although LSD is not thought to be addictive, a person can become psychologically dependent, relying on using it in certain situations.

Opiates are a group of drugs known as “downers” derived from the sticky resin of the opium poppy seed-pod. They include opium, heroin, morphine, methadone, codeine and pethidine. Fortunately, heroin use is relatively low in New Zealand.

Synthetic cannabinoids – these create similar effects to that of cannabis (getting high). These chemicals are added to a mixture of dried plant matter and sold as a legal alternative to cannabis. Police and hospitals are reporting that violent and psychotic teenagers high on these substances are filling up police cells and hospital emergency departments. Recent publicity about the negative health effects of synthetic cannabis has led to the banning in New Zealand of several ingredients used in its manufacture.

How to get help - To find more resources and help on this topic and others, please refer to our Directory section at the back of this journal, or www.pmgt.org.nz/directory.

Ageing safely

Most of us, with any luck, will grow old. Advances in medical science and valuable information on nutrition and lifestyle make it more likely that life expectancy will continue to rise.

The proportion of older people in the population is going to grow for some time yet and many over the current retirement age of 65 are in the paid workforce (22 percent of men and 11 percent of women aged over 65 – Statistics New Zealand Household Labour Force Survey: December 2009 Quarter).

There are many positive aspects to having lots of older people around. They are able to share their wisdom, they make up a sizeable block of consumers paying for goods and services, and if retired they have time to volunteer and assist businesses with their time and expertise.

Older people are valuable members of society. They deserve our respect, our care and our attention.

Unfortunately, some people take advantage of the vulnerability and frailty that age often brings. If you’re an older person, you’re entitled to the same rights as anyone else. If you feel you’re not being treated right, or if you’re concerned about how an older person is being treated, you can get help (see How to get help at the end of this section).

If things go wrong

Sometimes, things don’t work as they should. Abuse can happen to older people, and the likelihood is that it’s going to be at home and at the hands of family members or “friends”. Sadly, Age Concern says it uncovers at least two new cases of abuse or neglect of older people every day in New Zealand, and it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Abuse and neglect of older people is internationally defined as: “a single or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to an older person. It can be of various forms: physical, psychological/emotional, sexual, or financial/material abuse, and/or intentional or unintentional neglect.”


Behaviour causing mental anguish, stress or fear. For example:

• Ridicule or threats.

• Harassment or humiliation.

• Preventing choice or decision-making.

• Withholding affection.


Illegal or improper use of money, property or other resources. For example:

• Unauthorised taking of money or possessions.

• Misuse of power of attorney.

• Failing to repay loans.

• Use of home and/or utilities without contributing to costs.


Infliction of pain, injury or use of force. For example:

• Hitting, pushing, rough handling.

• Over-medication.

• Inappropriate use of restraints or confinement.


Non-consensual sexual acts or exploitive behaviours. For example:

• Inappropriate touching.

• Sexual acts with someone unable to give consent.


Not providing for physical, emotional or social needs. For example:

• Inadequate food, clothing or shelter

• Lack of social contact and support

• Health needs not attended to.

The signs

Signs that abuse or neglect is occurring may include:

• Fear of a particular person or people.

• Anxiety for no obvious reason.

• Irritability and being overly emotional.

• Presenting as helpless, hopeless and sad.

• Using contradictory statements not resulting from mental confusion.

• Reluctance to talk openly. For example, waiting for the carer to answer.

• Avoidance of the usual amount of physical, eye or verbal contact this person uses.

• Not having enough money for necessities or to pay bills.

• Unexplained withdrawals from bank accounts.

• Possessions disappearing.

What to do

It’s not always easy to tell if elder abuse or neglect is actually occurring. Victims are often reluctant or even unable to talk about it. However, if you’re concerned about an older person, do something! As always in an emergency, call 111. Get in touch with a help agency such as Age Concern (see at the end of this section). If you’re in close contact with the older person:

• Make sure they’re safe.

• Offer reassurance that you’re there to help.

• Ask them if they’re happy for you to talk to an agency that can help.

You could ask them if they’re scared of anyone, whether they’ve been mistreated and how, and if they feel safe in their environment or in their relationship with family members.

If their answers raise concerns:

• Listen and make your responses calm and matterof-fact. Don’t make any judgements about either the older person or the abuser.

• Believe them and show them they’re not alone – they have your support.

• Tell them what you would like to do to help, but offer choices so they feel in control. Let them decide when something should happen.

Enduring power of attorney

You might have heard about an enduring power of attorney, but what is it? Having an enduring power of attorney means greater peace of mind for you, as an older person.

You can choose someone you trust to act on your behalf and in your best interests if you lose the ability to manage your own affairs. It also means a lot less stress for your family and friends because they know you’ve made arrangements.

There are two types of enduring power of attorney:

• A Personal Care and Welfare enduring power of attorney.

• A Property enduring power of attorney.Most people set up both types.

Under a Personal Care and Welfare enduring power of attorney you choose one person to make decisions about your personal care and welfare on your behalf if you become mentally incapable.

Under a Property enduring power of attorney you can appoint one or more attorneys to make decisions about your property affairs. You can, if you wish, give your property attorney authority to manage your property affairs while you still have capacity.

It’s important to choose your attorney wisely. For your Personal Care and Welfare Attorney you will want to select someone who knows your personal likes and dislikes well. Having them live nearby is helpful, because they’ll be required to encourage you to act on your own behalf, and to stay connected to the community, as much as possible.

For your Property Attorney, you should choose someone who can handle your money matters easily and responsibly. You’ll need to talk to the people you wish to be your attorney(s) first.

There’s some good information on the Ministry of Social Development’s website www.msd.govt.nz/what-wecan-do/seniorcitizens/your-rights/enduring-power-ofattorney.html Keep visiting this site as legislation is under review.

How to get help

If you’re an older person suffering abuse or someone who witnesses abuse, call the police on 111 if it’s urgent. If you want information or you suspect it’s happening, call Age Concern or the Are you OK family violence information line (see below) or talk to someone you can trust. Age Concern has 24 elder abuse and neglect prevention services throughout New Zealand providing confidential and free information and support. Community Law and the Ministry of Justice have useful information about the power of attorney.

To find more resources and help on this topic and others, please refer to our Directory section at the back of this journal, or www.pmgt.org.nz/directory.

Family violence is not okay

Violence in families is not OK, and it should never be ignored because “it’s just a domestic”. Statistics show family violence accounts for more than half of all violent crime reported in New Zealand.

The numbers don’t make good reading. They reflect a sad situation for too many NewZealand families.

Family violence affects everyone. Even if they’re not being physically abused, children are often victims, not only because of what they witness, but also because they have to endure the consequences of dysfunctional and destroyed relationships.

The Police and courts take family violence seriously. Police will act when they suspect or uncover incidences of family violence. New powers (see under Police Safety Orders) allow them to remove an offender, or even a suspected offender, to remove the immediate risk and to give everyone an opportunity to assess their situation.

When they attend an incident, they also use an internationally recognised scoring tool to assess partner risk. They also have a Child Risk Factor Tool, which helps them predict the risks for children.

However, international research indicates only about 20 percent of family violence incidents are actually reported. So a lot is happening in our community that the Police don’t know about. Whether we’re a victim, neighbour, part of the extended family, teacher, carer or just a member of the community, we can help make it stop.

Reporting family violence

In a recent analysis of family violence statistics, for 21 percent of children’s cases and 35 percent of women’s cases, family and friends were aware of the violence but did not report it. In 64 percent of all cases the family had prior contact with the police.

The Police make every effort to protect people from family violence, but they need to know it’s happening. So why isn’t it reported?

In many cases, the victim is too scared to speak out, fearing more violence. But in most cases, someone else knows it’s happening and does nothing to stop it because they don’t want to get involved or they don’t want to be seen to be interfering.

The attitude that it’s matter that should stay in the family no longer washes. Recent high-profile cases have shown that children – and adults – have died because no-one reported the violence.

Stick up for the victims, and report any instance of family violence to the Police. They are skilled at dealing with these situations, and will take appropriate action to protect victims.

If you or anyone in your household is being abused or in any danger, don’t hesitate to call 111. Police will respond quickly to help.

Police Safety Orders

Since June 2010, the Police have gained powers that have had a positive effect on dealing with family violence. A new Police Safety Order (PSO) gives Police the ability to make someone leave the premises for up to five days (usually one or two days) if the Police have reasonable grounds to believe that family violence has or may occur. They don’t need consent from the person at risk to issue the order.

Public Safety Orders allow police to remove a person from a property where there is sufficient reason to believe a failure to do so may result in a serious incident, but not yet enough evidence to make an arrest.

It protects members of the household who are at risk by imposing conditions on the threatening person similar to those in Protection Orders. These conditions apply for the duration of the PSO. For example, this person:

• Must not assault, threaten, intimidate or harass the protected person (the person at risk) or encourage anyone else to do the same.

• Must not follow, stop or contact in any way the person at risk in any place, either at home, at work, or anywhere else the person at risk visits often.

• Must surrender all firearms and their firearms licence to the Police for the period of the PSO.

The PSO also protects any children living with the person at risk, and any conditions of parenting orders or agreements giving access or care by the threatening person are suspended. The Police can detain this person for up to two hours to issue and serve the PSO. There is no right of appeal.

If conditions are breached, the Police can take the person into custody and put them before the court.

The court might:

• release them

• direct the Police to issue another PSO

• issue a Temporary Protection Order (if the person at risk does not object).

It gives everyone an opportunity to calm down and meet with Police and other agencies to talk about improving their situation – and could save a person’s life. No criminal convictions result from the issue of a Police Safety Order.

Protection Orders

If you need to be protected from an abusive member of your household and you’re not in immediate danger, talk in confidence to someone who can help you apply for a Protection Order. Some of these organisations are listed at the end of this section, or look at the front of the White Pages phone book under Emergency Services or Personal Help Services.

Some organisations can help by:

• arranging to pick you up if you don’t have money or a car

• arranging emergency accommodation if you need to get out of your home

• providing welfare or support services

• discussing what legal, housing and financial assistance you can get

• helping you understand the legal process

• arranging an appointment with a lawyer.

A lawyer will help you prepare your application to the Family Court, take down your statement and apply for free Legal Aid if necessary.

Children can also apply for a Protection Order with the help of an adult.

Family violence defined

As the ongoing advertising says: “It’s not OK”. Your partner or any member of your family should never use violence to hurt or control you.

Violence can be physical, sexual, psychological or financial and can include neglect. The Ministry of Social Development’s Family and Community Services, on its website www.areyouok.org.nz defines the various forms of family violence as follows.

Psychological violence to adults or children, which can have long-lasting effects, includes:

• making you feel like everything you do is wrong

• constantly criticising you or your friends

• humiliating you in front of your friends

• using unsafe driving to frighten you

• damaging property/walls/possessions to scare you

• making you isolated and alone

• blaming everything on you

• threatening to take the children away or hurt them

• stalking, following, checking up on you

• harming pets to punish you

• making you feel scared of what might happen next.

Sexual abuse includes:

• forcing you to have sex or do other sexual acts you don’t want to do

• touching you in a way you don’t want

• frequently accusing you of sleeping with other people

• forcing you to watch porn.

Physical abuse includes:

• hitting and punching

• biting, pushing, choking or pulling your hair

• making you drink or take drugs when you don’t want to

• using or threatening to use weapons.

Financial abuse includes:

• taking your money or property

• running up debts in your name

• misusing power of attorney

• pressuring you into paying money.

Neglect includes:

• not providing food, clothing and warmth

• leaving dependants alone or with someone who is unsafe

• not providing comfort, attention and love

• not providing medical treatment.

If you feel any of these apply to you, contact any of the agencies listed at the end of this section.

The facts

It’s worth noting that the facts about family violence are often distorted. In a guide for journalists, www. areyouok.org.nz provides some interesting insights, which include the following myth-busters.

It’s an unpredictable private tragedy

Not true. The victim will almost always have suffered violence for a long time. Family violence is almost always a series of tactics used to gain and keep control. It‘s a pattern of behaviours that increases in frequency and severity over time. Murder is the extreme result, and we know most murders happen following the most dangerous time for a victim – after a separation. Domestic deaths are planned. The killer has commonly obtained a weapon, made threats to kill previously, knows where the victim is and when to strike.

Caused by substance abuse, stress, poverty and failed marriage

Not true. Many people who experience these do not hit, stalk or murder their partners or children. It’s true that substance abuse can make the violence worse, but it’s not the reason for it. People use violence in the domestic setting because they believe they are entitled to use violence to get what they want.

The victim’s to blame

Implying the victim is to blame by using phrases such as “why did they stay”, “they had relationship issues”, “she had a habit of getting involved with men like that”, imply the victim is to blame or “asked for it”. People choose to use violence to control and dominate other family members. Victims are not to blame because they stay. They are often afraid of leaving because of isolation, lack of funds and housing, and fear of the perpetrator.

Violence and love go together

It’s not normal behaviour to bash or murder someone if you love them. Jealous, threatening and intimidating behaviour is not love.

The abuser is a lovely person

It is not unusual for media reports to say that the murderer/abuser was a model employee, a good neighbour or “pillar of the community”. Abusers show a different face to the world. Can someone still be “nice” if they murder their partner or child?

How to get help

In an emergency, don’t hesitate to call 111 any time and ask for the Police. See their website – www.police.govt.nz – for useful information about family violence.

Other agencies that can help are listed at the front of the White Pages phone book under Emergency Services or Personal Help Services.

To find more resources and help on this topic and others, please refer to our Directory section at the back of this journal, or www.pmgt.org.nz/directory.

Animal abuse

Animal abuse is a serious crime and can result in severe penalties. All animals deserve to be properly taken care of whether it’s a dog or a chicken. When you adopt an animal you have made a commitment to them and it’s your responsibility to honour that.

What is Animal Cruelty?

Animal cruelty defines a range of different behaviours that are harmful to animals. These behaviours range from neglect to malicious killing. Most cruelty reports are investigated by humane officers who can educate owners about unintentional neglect. Intentional cruelty or abuse is knowingly depriving an animal of food, water, shelter, socialisation and/or veterinary care or maliciously torturing, maiming, mutilating, or killing an animal.

Why is it a Concern?

Just as it is illegal and morally wrong to hurt another human, it’s also wrong to hurt animals. They depend on us to take care of them and we depend on them for many things as well. Animal cruelty can be one of the earliest and most dramatic indicators that an individual is developing a pattern of seeking power and control by inflicting suffering on others.

Is there any evidence of a connection between animal cruelty and human violence?

Many studies in psychology, sociology, and criminology over the last 25 years have demonstrated that violent offenders frequently have childhood and adolescent histories of serious and repeated animal cruelty. The FBI has recognised this connection since the l970’s when bureau analysis of the life histories of imprisoned serial killers suggested that most as children had killed or tortured animals. Other research has shown consistent patterns of animal cruelty among perpetrators of more common forms of violence, including child abuse and spousal abuse.

Why Would Anyone Abuse Animals?

There can be many reasons. Animal cruelty, like any other form of violence, is often committed by a person who feels powerless, unnoticed, and under the control of others. The motive may be to shock, threaten, intimidate, or offend others or to demonstrate rejection of society’s rules. Some who are cruel to animals copy things they have seen or that have been done to them. Others see harming an animal as a safe way to get revenge on someone who cares about that animal. In some cases, animal abuse is associated with deviant arousal.

Focusing on At-risk Communities

Animal cruelty has been closely linked to family violence and child abuse. Many young children unintentionally harm animals and it only takes one adult to teach them kindness and respect for the animals they meet. Yet, a child who repeatedly hurts an animal requires the support of their parents or caregivers and an experienced professional. There are several reasons that cause children to abuse animals, including learning difficulties, problems understanding how others feel or think, anxiety, bullying, copying adult behaviours and family violence. So, it is important that the nature of the animal cruelty and the possible cause is identified early to support child development and safety.

The SPCA is working with the Ministry for Children, the New Zealand Police and Women’s Refuge to develop interagency strategies that aim to keep children safe and reduce family harm. The SPCA has developed resources for professionals to support the identification of animal cruelty as an early sign of family violence and to support children who witness animal cruelty or who may act with cruelty to animals.

Dog Fighting

Dog fighting is a horrific form of animal abuse. Dogs are forced to fight to the death and rip each other apart for human entertainment. Family pets get stolen and used as bait dogs, given to fighting dogs to practice on. Stolen pets are often starved and have their mouths taped shut to prevent them from harming the fighting dog – allowing it to build confidence and hone killing skills. Dog fighting is a terrible crime in New Zealand run mostly by gangs. It creates a place for other criminal activities to proliferate, such as illegal betting and bad breeding practices. There are ways everyone can help to reduce this crime in New Zealand.

Why Do People Get Involved in Dog Fighting?

There are many reasons people are drawn to dog fighting, the most common is greed. There can be a lot of money in dog fighting through gambling, stud fees, and the sale of pups from promising bloodlines. For others, the attraction lies in using the animals as an extension of themselves to fight their battles for them and to demonstrate their strength and prowess. However, when a dog loses, this can cause the owner of the dog to lose not only money, but status, and may lead to brutal actions against the dog. For others, the appeal simply seems to come from the sadistic enjoyment of a brutal spectacle.

How Are Dog Fighting Victims Raised and Trained?

Dogs used for fighting must be kept isolated from other dogs, so they spend most of their lives on short, heavy chains, often just out of reach of other dogs. They are usually unsocialized to other dogs and to most people. However, many professional fighters invest much time and money in conditioning their animals. They are often given quality nutrition and basic veterinary care. The dogs are exercised under controlled conditions, such as on a treadmill.

The conditioning of dog fighting victims may also make use of a variety of legal and illegal drugs, including anabolic steroids to enhance muscle mass and encourage aggressiveness. Narcotic drugs may also be used to increase the dogs’ aggression, increase reactivity and mask pain or fear during a fight.

Dog fighting victims used by all types of fighters may have their ears cropped and tails docked close to their bodies. This serves two purposes: First, it limits the areas of the body that another dog can grab onto in a fight, and second, it makes it more difficult for other dogs to read the animal’s mood and intentions through normal body language cues.

Fighters usually perform this cropping/docking themselves using crude and inhumane techniques. This can lead to additional criminal charges related to animal cruelty and/or the illegal practice of veterinary medicine.

What Happens in a Dog Fight?

Fights can take place in a variety of locations and at any time. They may be impromptu street fights in a back alley, or carefully planned and staged enterprises in a location specifically designed and maintained for the purpose. Usually the fight takes place in a pit that is between 14 and 20 feet square, with sides that may be made of plywood, hay bales, chain link or anything else that can contain the animals. The flooring may be dirt, wood, carpet or sawdust.

In a more organized fight, the dogs will be weighed to make sure they are approximately the same weight. Handlers will often wash and examine the opponent’s dog to remove any toxic substances that may have been placed on the fur in an attempt to deter or harm the opposing dog. At the start of a fight, the dogs are released from opposite corners and usually meet in the middle, wrestling to get a hold on the opponent. If they do, the dogs grab and shake to inflict maximum damage. Handlers are not permitted to touch the dogs except when told to do so by the referee.

Fights can last just a few minutes or several hours. Both animals may suffer injuries, including puncture wounds, lacerations, blood loss, crushing injuries and broken bones. Although fights are not usually to the death, many dogs succumb to their injuries later.

Unless they have had a good history of past performance or come from valuable bloodlines, losing dogs are often discarded, killed or simply left with their injuries untreated. If the losing dog is perceived to be a particular embarrassment to the reputation or status of its owner, it may be executed in a particularly brutal fashion as part of the “entertainment”.

What You Can Do To Help

• If you suspect that dog fighting is happening in your neighbourhood, please contact Paw Justice on 09 550 0541 or the Police; 111 if it is happening now or 105 to report it.

• Download and print out either the mailbox $5000 REWARD flyer and distribute it around your neighbourhood and local dog parks OR print out the community shop poster and put them in local dairies and community areas http://pawjustice.co.nz/5000- dollar-reward

• Since dog fighters typically keep their dogs chained, you can help deter dog fighters by pushing for antichaining rules at your local council.

You can also keep an eye out for:

- Dogs on heavy chains, tethered to a tire axle or dog house/barrel.

- Pit bull-mix-type dogs weighing approximately 40-50 pounds as these are the most common fighting dogs.

- Dogs with multiple scars, possibly with lips or ears ripped off.

- A dirt ring around the dog in the yard.

- Dogs chained inches apart from one another.

- Dogs chained or penned in a secluded area intentionally kept out of the public’s view.

Keep Your Dogs Safe

• Ensure your property is well fenced and all gates are securely locked. If you do not already have locks on your gates, install them now and make sure they’re locked every time you leave the house.

• Look for coloured marks, numbers and/or ribbons on your letterbox, fence, gate, pavement or driveway. These marks often look like spray-painted council markings. These markings will typically be accompanied by a coding system that signifies the number of dogs at the property eg: you may see two ribbons, a number “2” or two dots on a property that has two dogs. If you spot a marking:

- Remove it immediately.

- Keep your dog(s) inside.

- Notify your neighbours.

- If you are leaving the house you can keep your dog(s) locked inside until you return. No, it’s not ideal but if there are thieves operating in your area it is better to be safe than sorry. Dogs are often stolen during the day when you are at work.

- Do not allow your dog(s) to sleep outside at night. Thieves are known to return to steal dogs that are left outside after dark.

The Animal Welfare Act

The Act sets out obligations upon the owners or persons in charge of animals to care for those animals properly. They have to meet an animal’s physical, health and behavioural needs, and must alleviate pain or distress.

The Act defines ill-treatment of an animal as: ‘causing the animal to suffer, by any act or omission, pain or distress that in its kind or degree, or in its object, or in the circumstances in which it is inflicted, is unreasonable or unnecessary’. This just means causing the animal to suffer either by neglect or abuse that is unreasonable.

More specifically, they define ‘physical, health, and behavioural needs’ as:

• proper and sufficient food

• proper and sufficient water

• adequate shelter

• the opportunity to display normal patterns of behaviour

• physical handling in a manner which minimises the likelihood of unreasonable and unnecessary pain or distress

• protection from, and rapid diagnosis of, injury and disease.

Failure to do this is a crime, which is also defined in the Act.

The Act regulates the use of traps and devices that have the potential to cause pain or distress to animals. The SPCA investigates alleged breaches of the Animal Welfare Act 1999 in relation to these obligations and/ or conduct.

The act in full: http://legislation.govt.nz/act/ public/1999/0142/62.0/DLM49664.html

Codes of Welfare

The Animal Welfare Act does not provide detailed requirements – instead, these are contained in regulations and Codes of Welfare. Codes are issued under the Act and contain minimum standards and recommended best practice.

Codes are issued by the Minister for Primary Industries and have important roles in helping set high standards of animal care.

The Codes outline minimum standards for the care and handling of animals. These standards have legal effect in two ways:

• Inspectors can use evidence of someone failing to meet a minimum standard to support a prosecution for an offence under the Act

• A person who is charged with an offence against the Act can defend themselves by showing that they have met or exceeded minimum standards

Also included in the Codes are recommended best practices. These encourage everyone to not just achieve minimum standards as required by the law, but to aim to improve the welfare of their animals by adopting best practice.

What Codes are Available?

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has put together 16 Codes of Welfare that include minimum standards, guidance information and recommended best practices for animal welfare.

These Codes cover animals from dogs to dairy cattle, and situations such as animal rodeos and painful husbandry procedures. You can find the full list (with amendments) on the Ministry for Primary Industries website: www.mpi.govt.nz/protection-and-response/ animal-welfare/codes-of-welfare

What If You Suspect a Breach of the Act or a Code of Welfare?

If you believe the Animal Welfare Act or a minimum standard of care in any of these Codes of Welfare is being breached by a person or an organisation and you would like to make a report, please call your local SPCA Centre: www.spca.nz/about#spca-centre-locations or the Ministry for Primary Industries on 0800 00 83 33.

If you have concerns about an animal being neglected or treated with cruelty, contact the SPCA immediately. You can then talk about your concerns and see if a visit by an Animal Welfare Inspector is necessary. All reports are treated in confidence.

Some great resources and topics for teachers and parents: https://www.spca.nz/what-we-do/preventcruelty-and-educate

Find out more about the Regulations such as; exporting live animals and animals in research, testing, and teaching: www.mpi.govt.nz/law-and-policy/legal-overviews/ animal-welfare/animal-welfare-regulations

Those who can help

New Zealanders are well served by an array of people and agencies willing to help those in need.

These groups can usually be found in the Personal Help Services section at the front of your phone book, through doctors and other health professionals, church social services, word-of-mouth social contacts, and agencies such as your local Citizens Advice Bureau.

For a digital directory: https://pmgt.org.nz/directory/

Police Managers’ Guild Trust

Phone: 04-801 0840

Website: www.pmgt.org.nz

a special THANK YOU to the organisations, individuals and businesses listed that helped us to put this together. This journal would not have been possible without their support.