Abuse in care inquiry: Man says placements became a training ground for jail

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The struggles of a man who was taken into state care as a young boy were relayed to the Abuse in Care inquiry in Auckland today.

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(File image). Photo: Unsplash / Matthew Ansley

Chassy Duncan, 31, spoke to the Royal Commission via an audio visual link in the Falkland Islands.

He is currently in prison in Port Stanley along with two other fishers after being convicted of assault.

Duncan is serving an 8-month sentence.

He was 10 years old when taken into state care.

His mother was struggling with him and one day after slapping him, she freaked out and called in social welfare for help.

Instead of helping, the department took her son away.

Over the next few years, Duncan spent time in various boys homes and foster placements.

He said he felt helpless, abandoned and scared in what were violent places.

Duncan said all of the homes were pretty much the same.

”The more north you go, the more violent it is and more staff sort of look the other way. They are pretty much the same, no place was really better than the other, other than the food.”

At one residential school, a small building was used as a time out space.

”There was no toilet, no running water. It was painted pink and it was pretty cold. There was no bed, no blankets. Nothing. Just used to get dragged there and dumped in there with the door slammed shut. In there for hours, hours on end.”

As a young boy, he ended up in homes with much older boys.

”[It was] Violent and even the staff there in charge of us couldn’t be trusted and used to participate in some of the violence, used to cause some of the violence.”

Duncan said the homes and placements were nothing more than a training ground for jail.

He said he became institutionalised.

”In my thoughts and behaviours, the way I reacted to people was never the same again after that and I don’t think I was out of residence long before I went into jail.”

Duncan does not believe much has changed because he knows of others now facing what happened to him.

He said state care has made him into bit of a mess and not prepared him for the real world.

He suffers from anxiety, has trouble with relationships, trust and authority.

”Always on the defence about everything, it’s just instinct, can’t even help it but sometimes I catch myself though.”

He rues the day his mother called social welfare.

”I think if my Mum did get help, this stuff would never have happened. It was just a slap on the arse man, just one slap on the arse just changed my whole life forever.”

Duncan received apologies from both the Ministries of Education and Social Development and some compensation.

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