Quarter of a million Kiwi kids abused in state or faith-based care

By Te Ao - Māori News

The Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry has today released a new study that estimates up to 250,000 children, young people and vulnerable adults were abused in state and/or faith-based care between 1950 and 2019.

The study estimates they were part of a cohort of up to 655,000 children, young people and vulnerable adults in state and faith-based care during that period.

Most people in care were in either faith-based and social welfare settings with an estimated 254,000 people in each setting (each 31% of total); followed by health and disability settings at 212,000 people (26%); and education care settings at 102,000 people (12%).

The estimated number of those abused in care peaked in the 1970s with up to 48,000 people abused in that decade.

Royal Commission chair Judge Coral Shaw said it was clear more people had passed through state and faith-based care than was previously known.

“Deplorably, even on the most conservative estimates, there has been more abuse in care than previously thought,” she said.

Gaps in data

“This study has also identified key gaps in New Zealand-specific abuse prevalence data, particularly for certain population groups such as Māori, Pacific and disabled people,” Shaw said.

“To fill these gaps, the commission is undertaking detailed research and investigations to inform our recommendations.”

Inquiry Survivor Advisory Group member Gary Williams said that “given the data captured over this time period is inadequate, it is even more important for Māori, Pacific and disabled people to share their experiences with the royal commission.

“The lack of data, particularly for disabled people, must not prevent their important experiences being counted and incorporated into the royal commission’s recommendations.”

The Cohort study was commissioned by the inquiry to inform its planning for the remainder of the royal commission’s work. Another report released today is the Economic Cost of Abuse in Care, which estimates abuse in care is estimated to cost an individual $857,000 over the course of their lifetime; the cost to society for abuse in care between 1950-2019 is up to $217 billion.

Both reports were commissioned to support the Inquiry’s interim report Tāwharautia: Pūrongo o te Wā, which will be released by Internal Affairs Minister Jan Tinetti  today.

The Abuse in Care Inquiry’s Cohort Study, Economic Report and additional research report can all be found on the commission’s website.

The Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry is investigating the abuse and neglect that happened to children, young people and vulnerable adults in care from 1950 and 1999. It is also considering experiences of abuse or neglect before outside these dates. After completing its investigations, it will make recommendations to the Governor General on how New Zealand can better care for children, young people and vulnerable adults.