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NZ businesses get ready for Buddy Day, 14 Nov

Many leading New Zealand businesses have partnered with national child advocacy organisation Child Matters to participate in the fourth annual ‘Buddy Day’ - New Zealand’s only child abuse prevention awareness day. 
  
Delivered by Child Matters, Buddy Day involves 1500 adults in Auckland, Wellington, Hamilton and Tauranga adopting a life-size cardboard ‘Buddy’ and taking it into communities and workplaces. The Buddy is used as a tool to generate conversations about the wellbeing of New Zealand children - and that it is up to all adults to keep kids safe.

The huge negative impact child abuse has on the health and wellbeing of the New Zealand population is the main reason principal supporter of Buddy Day, Sovereign, became involved in 2013.

Sovereign CEO, Symon Brewis-Weston, and Child Matters Chairman, Neil Richardson, addressed Sovereign staff at a special meeting in Auckland this week aimed at motivating employees to get behind the awareness event.
  
“Research shows clear links between child abuse and mental health issues later in life and more than 30% of Sovereign’s disability income claims are due to mental illness. Raising awareness of these issues is very important for the future of New Zealand,” says Sovereign CEO Symon Brewis-Weston. “We actively encourage staff to get involved in Buddy Day and understand the important role they can play in creating safer communities for children to thrive within.”
  
Studies show that childhood abuse and neglect increases the likelihood of long-term health complications such as heart disease, liver disease, diabetes, obesity, and depression and mental illness. The long term effects of childhood abuse and neglect also filter into the workplace, including issues getting or keeping jobs, and even an increased incidence of workplace accidents. [1]
  
In 2008, it was estimated the cost of child abuse in New Zealand was around $2 billion a year. [2]
  
Child Matters chief executive, Anthea Simcock, says the message of Buddy Day is that every adult in New Zealand can make a difference when it comes to keeping children safe.
  
“New Zealand has the fifth worst child abuse record out of 26 OECD countries. [3]
On average there are 63 substantiated findings of child abuse across the country every day.
  
“Unfortunately, many people see these statistics and think the problem of child abuse is too big for them to make a difference. That’s simply not true.

“Educating the adult population about the daily things they can do to keep kids safe is what Buddy Day is all about. This year we’ve developed an informational brochure that every adult participating in the day will receive; it’s also available on our website. It has handy tips for keeping kids safe on the sport field, in school, at social gatherings and many other everyday situations.

“The reality is that every adult can take a few proactive steps that can greatly minimise the likelihood of child abuse occurring. Buddy Day is about asking adults to step up and do whatever they can to help prevent child abuse in their circles of influence,” Mrs Simcock explained.
  
The event takes place again on 14 November in Auckland, Wellington, Hamilton and Tauranga. Business and community leaders in these four regions can participate in Buddy Day.
Participation is free and adults can register as Buddy ‘Carers’ at www.buddyday.org.nz .
 
[1]Felitti, V; Anda, R; Nordenberg, D; Williamson, D; Spitz, A; Edwards, V; Koss, M; Marks, J; Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study. The Relationship of Adult Health Status to Childhood Abuse and Household Dysfunction American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 1998.
    [2]Informetrics, The Nature of Economic Costs from Child Abuse in New Zealand, 2008
[3]A League table of Child Deaths by Injury in Rich Nations, United Nations Children’s Fund report, 2001