Ministry of Internal Affairs Secretary Bredina Drollet said this after revealing that an average of just one case per year of child neglect has been reported in the Cook Islands over the last five years.
Drollet said very few cases were reported to the Child and Family Division but they usually involved cases where a parent might no longer want to take parental responsibility because of difficulties in controlling a child’s behaviour.
“These cases mostly involve young people that have been raised abroad and sent to the Cook Islands for grandparents or other family members to look after. “This is not an ideal solution as the underlying misbehaving often continues and is more difficult for family members to deal with,” Drollet said.
She said the age of children in such cases that have come to their attention was often between 14-16 years, when they fell outside the benefit system.
Under the current law neglect cases are expected to be dealt with by the Juveniles Crimes Prevention Committee (JCPC) under the Prevention of Juvenile Crimes Act 1968, administered by the Ministry of Justice.
Drollet said this would change under the proposed Family Law Bill and Internal Affairs would have a more direct role in assisting in cases where children required care and protection and where safety issues needed to be investigated.
“In practice, cases are referred to the child and family division to investigate on behalf of the JCPC or the courts,” Drollet said.