Ewen McQueen: Cinderella effect can’t be ignored

NZ Herald 2 September 2014
In the Weekend Herald last Saturday, psychologist Nigel Latta summed up the 10 things he had learned from presenting his television series on social problems in New Zealand.

Number five was the statement: “People who should know better seem to ignore the science with hardly a backward glance.” Latta went on to say that our leaders and policymakers “seem to ignore good science when it doesn’t suit”.

Latta is right and often in this series his analysis was insightful and brought issues into sharper focus.

However, his episode on family violence and child abuse fell short. Indeed on this issue he was himself guilty of ignoring the science.

The episode gave the terrible statistics on child abuse and family violence and drew on research showing predictable links with poverty and alcohol misuse.

However, Latta avoided what social science shows is the leading risk factor – revolving door families.

These are the families where mum’s latest boyfriends come and go, and both mum and her children are at hugely increased risk of violence and abuse – the so-called “Cinderella effect”.

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