Thursday 16 September 2021

Holding teachers to account for historic sexual abuse

This morning I was perusing my Facebook account and I came across the most disturbing post on an  alumni group for a local school I used to attend. 

I was quite devastated to read that, on what has been, up until now a pleasant chit/chat group exchanging memories. The poster has been incredibly courageous in posting this. There are over 230 replies on the post and it is pretty clear to me that the problem goes far deeper than I had realised. 

I was aware of some low level issues, but nothing like what is coming out now. I recall one girl, who was a good friend, asking if I could sit next to her on a coach trip, as the teacher leading the trip had 'wandering hands' and she'd feel uncomfortable sitting next to him. When the coach was about to leave, he came up and asked me to move. I replied that I wouldn't be moving as I was sitting next to my girlfriend, at which he shuffled off. She thanked me profusely for getting rid of him. I didn't really go into it with her, but it was clear that she was not at all comfortable around him. 

At recent reunions, other unpleasant incidents have been recalled. One of the teachers from my era went to prison for offences against young boys. It is now absolutely clear that there was a much bigger problem than I could have imagined and far more people were affected than I realised and the effects on them far worse.

The sad truth is that any cursory search of google in your locality will turn up all manner of offences where teachers have been convicted for involvement in such revolting behaviour. What is good is that people are realising that the stigma associated with this behaviour is not on the victim. They are blameless and deserve nothing but support. Those brave enough to go public are to be applauded and supported and I urge anyone who has information that could help any police investigation to get in touch with the Police or anyone posting such appeals. 

I think that the aim of holding the perpetrators to account is one that all decent people should support. No one who has sexually abused children should ever be able to get away with it. People in positions of power and responsibility need to know they will be held accountable. The only way to stop this is to speak up.

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