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Activities will be taking place across the Bay of Plenty District this week in support of White Ribbon Day 2011 – an internationally recognised day where communities take a stand against family violence.
Detective Sergeant Zane Smith, the Bay of Plenty Police District Family Violence Co-ordinator, says White Ribbon Day is a chance for everyone in the community, including Police and partner agencies to come together to show their support in stopping family violence.
Police attend approximately 240 family violence occurrences a day (one every six minutes). Children are present at over 50% of these incidents. In the Bay of Plenty District, 5238 charges were laid in relation to family violence between 1 July 2010 and 30 June 2011.
"These are terrible statistics, but we believe they actually only scratch the surface of the reality, as we know that many family violence incidents go unreported by victims, neighbours and others in the community. Only approximately 20 per cent of family violence incidents are reported. If you or someone you know needs help, please call Police or another agency so that we can help break the cycle.
"Family Violence is not okay and it is a crime. It happens in all ethnic, cultural, socio-economic and age groups in our community and everyone needs to take responsibility for reducing the harm."
Detective Sergeant Smith says protecting children from violence is a key focus for Police in the Bay of Plenty, and New Zealand.
"Children are our most vulnerable members of society and they have a basic right to be protected from violence, neglect and harm. But unfortunately, all too often, these smallest members of our community are hurt by the people who are meant to love and nurture them.
"We know that unless the cycle of violence is broken in these early years, those children will go on to be our future victims and offenders of crime. We all have to act now in order to protect their future."
Detective Sergeant Smith says Police work closely with Government agencies like Child Youth and Family, as well as other community and health groups, in an effort to address child abuse.
He says the establishment of co-location centres such as Rapuoranga in Tauranga, and Te Äwhiti opened in Whakatane this week, help these groups work even more effectively together to provide the best outcomes for the victims of child abuse.
Detective Sergeant Smith says the Police Safety Orders (PSO), which came into effect in July last year, are proving to be a valuable tool in helping Police to address Family Violence. The orders mean that Police can use a PSO to remove someone from a property who is causing or could potentially cause harm to others there.
Bay of Plenty Police have issued 263 PSO since 1 July 2011, more than twice the number issued in the same period last year.
"Police recognise the serious and negative harm caused to our communities by Family Violence, however we can't address this issue alone. We need the community to help us do this and by doing the right thing by reporting family violence and spreading the word that it's not okay."
If you are the victim of family violence or someone who is committing family violence please contact your local Police station or provide information anonymously to the independent Crimestoppers line on 0800 555 111.
White Ribbon Day is held on 25 November every year.