Sexual abuse at school – what are my rights?

You may be entitled to compensation if you are a survivor of abuse.

Shine Lawyers New Zealand - Right Wrong

Recent developments in the Royal Commission Inquiry into Abuse in Care and Faith-Based Organisations have led to a number of survivors of historic sexual abuse at school coming forward to report their abuse.  It is evident from the Inquiry that there were systemic problems within schools and faith-based settings that allowed perpetrators including priests, ministers, clergymen, teachers, scoutmasters, and fellow students, to abuse vulnerable children.

What is defined as abuse?

“Abuse’ is defined in the Inquiry’s Terms of Reference as meaning physical, sexual, emotional or psychological abuse, and neglect. It includes inadequate or improper treatment that resulted in serious mental or physical harm to a person in care. In some circumstances, bullying and harassment may be considered “abuse’.

Can Shine Lawyers help me?

Shine Lawyers has represented numerous survivors of abuse in churches, care, and schools. Shine Lawyers can also pursue action where a student was bullied or harassed by fellow students, whilst under the care of a school or an institution.

What am I entitled to?

You may be entitled to compensation if you are a survivor of abuse. Shine Lawyers is actively pursuing compensation from several schools and institutions, including those run by churches. While compensation can’t take away pain suffered, it may help to make life easier for you moving ahead and assist you obtain and access care and support services you need depending on your circumstances.

What about time limits?

Whilst the law provides that you generally have six years to bring a claim, recent case law has found that time is extended if the survivor was found to be under a disability at the time of the abuse. Shine Lawyers has successfully resolved claims against schools despite the abuse occurring over six years ago.

There are gaps in the current legislation, and Shine Lawyers has made submissions to the Royal Commission Inquiry to make the legislation more fit for purpose for abuse survivors. Research has found that, on average, it takes survivors 25 years to recall abuse due to repressed memory, therefore making the six-year limitation period nonsensical.

Are there any redress schemes?

Several schools have established redress schemes. (Find out more about Dilworth School Abuse Claims). The Ministry of Education also has a process to hear and respond to certain abuse claims.

Shine Lawyers can assist and advise survivors navigating these schemes and negotiating a satisfactory outcome. Shine can also advise you about whether you can participate in a redress scheme.

How do I find a lawyer with school abuse expertise?

If you are seeking a school abuse lawyer, contact Shine Lawyers for a free no-obligation consultation. Our Abuse Law Team has expertise in supporting clients who have suffered emotional, physical or sexual abuse and understand that disclosing past abuse can be an incredibly difficult process.

Our lawyers are caring, compassionate, and dedicated to helping you pursue your rights and we recognise the importance of ensuring all claims are run in a private, confidential, respectful and empathetic manner.

Contact us today

Support for abuse survivors

If this blog brings up any issues for you, or you feel like you need to speak to someone, please contact one of these New Zealand services:

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