Pokie machines don’t neglect children, parents neglect children

Media have a habit of blaming inanimate objects in headlines, for example:

Dump truck hits, kills 90-year-old man on foggy Route 1 in Camden

Guns kill nearly 1,300 US children each year, study says

Pokies ‘taking food out of the mouths of children’, says GP Lance O’Sullivan

While I understand where O’Sullivan is coming from the problem is not the pokie machines. The problems are the children’s parents or caregivers.

Child Poverty in regions like Kaitaia is only exacerbated by gaming machines, that have no place in poorer communities, GP Lance O’Sullivan says.

Children are being left to wait outside Kaitaia pubs while their parents are inside gambling – parents?who could ill-afford to lose $100, says former New Zealander of the year, and?Kaitaia GP, Lance O’Sullivan.

Yet it was a problem that was “so simple to fix”, O’Sullivan said.

He’s calling on the Government “show some courage” and ban pokie machines in high-need areas like the Far North, where he said they were doing significant harm.

If banning addictive things worked then we could solve tobacco addiction and alcoholism virtually overnight but the prohibition of alcohol has never been successful anywhere. Human nature means that if you make something forbidden it becomes even more desirable. Won’t addicted parents simply neglect their children further by travelling long distances to get to pokie machines in other areas?

“These machines are?taking food out of the mouths of children and there’s a cure there and it’s just not on,” O’Sullivan said.

These people are addicts. Shouldn’t the cure be to put them in rehab until they are able to stop neglecting their children?

O’Sullivan said the Government had to act if it was serious about reducing child poverty.

It is not poverty it is neglect.

[…] “About three or four years ago I had a local business person say to me that they came into their business premises on the weekend and found children, in the back yard of this business, going through his pig bucket to find food to eat.

[…] “This is because we have significant levels of poverty and the drivers of poverty are many and multiple, but we know it’s generational and this is an example of these children, and I’ve heard stories of children sitting outside the pub in Kaitaia here, waiting for their parents gambling inside.”

Central Government did have the power to effect immediate change.

“A simple approach would be banning them in places like Kaitaia and Kaikohe, Ruatahuna – we just don’t think it’s appropriate there. If we have them anywhere, maybe we have them in one location.

“That just takes a bit of courage and will on our politicians part,” he said.

Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin was unable to be reached for comment, however it’s understood she has requested officials provide her details on the prevalence and regional breakdown of pokie machines.