Monday, September 05, 2011

Correlations of the Wairarapa

Stuff carries a story this morning of rumours of a mass suicide teen pact in the Wairarapa:
After the sudden deaths of four teenagers, authorities and community groups are clamping down on frenzied social media messages which make claims of a pact among some teenagers to end their lives, and identify – often falsely – teenagers who have killed themselves and ways they have done it.

Four teenagers have died tragically since June – three from Masterton and one from Pahiatua. A girl, 17, died in Masterton on Thursday morning, following the deaths of a Masterton girl, 14, last week and a boy, 17, in June. 
I am loathe to point fingers at correlation and causation from this side of the Tararuas, but one can't help wondering whether this mental health breakdown has anything to do with the rampant burying of sexual abuse cases by police back in 2006:
Eighteen separate police employment investigations were launched in the wake of failures in Wairarapa child abuse cases. The buildup of 142 cases in Wairarapa sparked an operation that led to police revisiting 7000 child abuse files nationwide, going back over 25 years.
The children of 2006 are today's teenagers.

Nor can I resist looking up the NZ Police's Annual Report from 2006:

Police have assumed responsibility from the Ministry of Justice for a sector wide initiative involving the deployment of family safety teams. Five teams have been established across Auckland, Hamilton, Hutt Valley, Wairarapa and Christchurch along with a National Family Safety Team Co-ordinator.
Or checking the stats (.pdf) to compare how many cannabis arrests Masterton busted:

Compared with how many sexual offences were charged:

Over 600 cannabis arrests in 2006 with a resolution rate over 90 percent. A mere 38 sexual offences were recorded for the same period, with a resolution rate of 31.6 percent. Barely a quarter of the actual 142 sexual abuse cases were recorded here. Of that, an infinitesimal 12 cases were resolved.

You can see where the police's priorities lie in the safe National seat of the Wairarapa. Busting cannabis users is as simple as following your nose and the easy road to promotion. Whereas resolving sexual abuse offences is messy, difficult and possibly devastating to careers if you cross the wrong suspect.

When self-medication is unavailable, self harm becomes an option. The police have failed in their duty to protect the vulnerable and defenceless, and now the price of that failure will haunt them for the rest of their lives.