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Self-harm tops CYF injury list
By KEITH LYNCH – The Press
Last updated 05:00 05/08/2009
More than 40 serious injuries to young people in Child, Youth and Family (CYF) residences have been recorded in the past three years.
In April 2006, CYF introduced a national database to record the number of serious injuries that occur in its seven secure care and protection and youth justice residences.
Figures released to The Press under the Official Information Act show 12 of the 43 injury incidents were due to assaults by residents on other residents, and two occurred when a resident was being put into a restraint by CYF staff. Fifteen were from self-harm, eight from sports, four from illness and two from accidents.
Twenty-six incidents happened in the CYF northern region, 12 in the lower north region and six in the southern region. Christchurch has one care and protection residence and one youth justice residence.
There are an average of 750 placements of children and young people in the residences each year.
In the reply to the information request, Social Development Ministry chief executive Peter Hughes said young people may “inadvertently injure themselves when staff are trying to make them safe”.
“I am confident that my staff only use an acceptable and reasonable level of force on the very rare occasions when they are required to restrain residents,” he said.
Family First national director Bob McCoskrie called for an independent CYF complaints authority. “We think there should be an external check on CYF, both for the benefit of families who are coming under CYF and also for the accountability of social workers to ensure appropriate policies and procedures are being followed.”
Children’s Commissioner John Angus said his office visited CYF facilities regularly.
“I or my staff visit every residence at least once a year under these responsibilities to ensure there are no issues with potential to threaten the health, safety or wellbeing of children and young people in these residences,” he said. “This is an opportunity to meet with young people directly and to provide them with an opportunity to air any grievances.”