New Zealand survey finds a quarter of a million abuses in state and faith-based care


An interim report of the Royal Commission on the Historic Abuse of Children in State Care estimates that up to 256,000 people were abused between 1950 and 2019. This represents almost 40% of the 655,000 people taken in. in charge during this period.

“The pain and anguish that has been caused in New Zealand’s history is inexcusable,” said Civil Service Minister Chris Hipkins, who called the report a “difficult reading”.

“All children in the care of the state should be safe from harm, but as testimony all too often demonstrates, the opposite is true. ”

The report says most of the abuse survivors were between the ages of 5 and 17, but some were as young as 9 months and 20 years old.

The violence included physical assault and sexual abuse, with staff in some mental health facilities forcing men to rape female patients. It also included the inappropriate use of medical procedures, including electric shocks to the genitals and legs, inappropriate strip searches and vaginal exams, as well as verbal and racial slurs.
“Sometimes I would have shock treatment twice a day,” said Anne, who at 17 was placed in a mental institution in 1979.

“The archives (said) I went blind, then they called me shock again that night,” she told the inquest.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the Royal Commission in 2018, saying the country had to face “a dark chapter” in its history, and then expanded it to include churches and other faith-based institutions.

The report states that the likelihood of children and young people being abused in faith-based or religious homes ranges from 21% to 42%.

He found that the number of people passing through healthcare facilities was six times higher than previously estimated.

“By any assessment, this is a serious and long-standing social problem that must be addressed,” the report said, adding that there is evidence that the abuse continues today.

The report follows private and public appeal hearings in which survivors bravely told heartbreaking tales of physical and sexual abuse.

A Maori survivor, Peter, told the inquest that he drove a car over a cliff in an attempt to kill himself to escape abuse.

“I didn’t want to live anymore. I went over a cliff and crashed head-on into a bank. Again, if someone stopped and looked at why, they would have found something, but they haven’t, ”he said.

The Aotearoa Catholic Church in New Zealand said it would study the report to learn how to deal with complaints and prevent abuse.

The report acknowledges that indigenous Maori children are probably those who suffer the most, as 81% of abused children are Maori, while 69% of children in care are Maori.

He said some faith-based institutions seek to “cleanse”, through sexual and physical abuse, the cultural identity of the Maori in care.

Thousands of Maori protested across New Zealand last year to demand an end to the practice of removing at-risk children from their families and placing them in state custody.

Critics of the practice have said the process is racially biased against the Maori and is a legacy of colonization.

Neighboring Australia issued a national apology in 2017, after a five-year investigation into child sexual abuse revealed thousands of cases of sexual misconduct widely committed in religious and public institutions.


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