Hamilton primary school pupil raped by another pupil at school camp
THIS STORY CONTAINS DETAILS SOME MAY FIND UPSETTING: A 10-year-old boy was raped by another 10-year-old boy at a school camp.
The way the Hamilton primary school and other authorities dealt with the incident at the camp and afterward has left the victim's mother feeling isolated and angry at what she described as attempts to brush the incident under the carpet.
The mother, who cannot be named without identifying her son, says her son was anally penetrated twice in the incident, which was witnessed by a third child.
New Zealand Police; Child, Youth and Family (CYF); the Ministry of Education; and the school have all confirmed an incident of a serious sexual nature occurred during one of the two school camps that month.
Pupils from two classes at the school were on a camp when the incident happened. Both the victim and his attacker have since left the school.
It is the same school where three five year olds allegedly performed oral sex on each other in 2014.
The mother of the victim says the school and the Education Ministry have failed her son by not properly supervising pupils and then, after the fact, not telling other parents about a serious incident on a school camp attended by dozens of students.
She wants other parents to know about her difficulty getting information from the school.
"I was told by the police my son had been raped - not [told] by the principal. It was as though they just wanted to brush the whole thing under the carpet.
"It was all hush, hush and the principal said, 'This stays between us, right?' To me, he was covering his own butt."
The principal has repeatedly refused an interview with Stuff, as has the deputy principal and the board of trustees.
The boy's mother says the school was aware the boy who attacked her son had behavioural problems.
Waikato Police Child Protection Unit head Detective Kris Clarke confirmed police were notified of the incident in April and conducted investigations straight away.
She confirmed that the school had decided police were the best people to alert the mother. Citing privacy concerns, she would not discuss the case further. Clarke says the attacker was too young to charge.
The mother says the rapist went into the other boy's dorm room, turned the light on while the victim lay sleeping and twice penetrated his anus with his penis.
Another pupil saw the light go on, got up to investigate and witnessed the incident.
The boy's mother also says that her son was further victimised when he was brought back alone to the Hamilton school by one of the two deputy principals at the time.
When she collected her son from the school, they encountered the rapist.
Her son's face went white as the rapist and his caregivers walked past.
She asked if that was the child who attacked her son, and her son nodded.
She said the next few days were filled with talking to the detective investigating the attack, hospital visits for a rape examination, and organising a counsellor for her son and family through ACC.
"The school has claimed fault and said they are sorry. Now they are carrying on as usual. For us, this is every day."
The Ministry of Education declined repeated requests for an interview with a ministry official over the course of the Stuff investigation, which spanned three months.
Stuff again asked for a one-on-one interview with an official from the Ministry of Education this week, but this was declined by senior media adviser Ruth Laugesen.
In a statement, Katrina Casey, the Ministry of Education's head of sector enablement and support said she is happy with how the school responded to the incident.
The statement said the school followed best practice and provided documents which detailed best practice.
However, the first step in the ministry's nine-step checklist called Managing Emergencies and Traumatic Incidents states details of the event should be recorded, and any actions taken should also be recorded.
The school has no such records, according to responses to two Official Information Act requests made by Stuff over the course of three months.
Step four states "write statements for teachers to read to children". The pupils were not communicated to in the event.
Step five reiterates to keep accurate records of injured staff and students, doctors and hospitals involved.
Step eight says to document all actions taken.
Casey would not say where the attacker now lives.
"The alleged offender has been schooled at home after being stood down from this school. We are concerned that this information could lead to suspicions being cast on other home-schooled children, so we won't share with you which part of the country he is now living," she said in a statement.
The ministry was asked to provide assurances that other children at the school were no longer at risk.
It did not respond to that request.
In response to the two Official Information Act (OIA) requests, the school confirmed it didn't file a written report on the incident, either for the school's records or with the Ministry of Education.
The first OIA response also said that the principal filed a report before the camp about possible safety issues, but the principal was unsure whether it still existed.
The board of trustees' response to the first OIA request initially said it held no minutes of discussions on the attack held in-committee from its April board meeting. However, five weeks later, after the second OIA request, the school found the minutes.
All board of trustee members refused to comment on the incident when approached individually except for one, who is no longer a current board member, who cannot be named without identifying the school and thereby the children involved.
"My understanding is that policy was followed, the police were called, CYF were called and they're the professionals to deal with it," he said.
"We did exactly what we could. It's out of our scope to deal with it. So we followed the policy, which was: call the police and call CYF and they carried through with their investigation.
"I'm sure they [New Zealand School Trustees Association] would have been contacted and in saying that, yes, they are board of trustees' support group. But CYF and police are much more trained to deal with it."
Both the school and the ministry said the ministry's trauma team was not sent in to talk to pupils or staff about the incident, either at the camp or later at the school. The school said it had received a phone call from the team.
The ministry trauma team has been known to visit schools over such incidents as earthquakes.