KZN school sex abuse tops the list

That chil­dren are not safe in their class­rooms is a huge prob­lem

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - BER­NADETTE WOL­HUTER

THE prob­lem of abuse in our schools is “big­ger than we can con­ceive”. This is ac­cord­ing to the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Na­tional Pro­fes­sional Teach­ers’ Or­gan­i­sa­tion of South Africa, Basil Manuel, who was re­spond­ing to sta­tis­tics from the South African Coun­cil of Ed­u­ca­tors re­gard­ing sex­ual abuse cases in schools.

Ac­cord­ing to the sta­tis­tics, KwaZulu-Natal has had the high­est num­ber of re­ported sex­ual abuse cases in schools for three years run­ning.

In re­sponse to a re­cent par­lia­men­tary ques­tion, Ba­sic Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Angie Mot­shekga re­vealed that ac­cord­ing to the South African Coun­cil for Ed­u­ca­tors (SACE), KZN had the high­est num­ber of re­ported sex­ual abuse cases – 23 – in 2014/15.

In 2013/14 and in 2012/13, the prov­ince also had the high­est num­bers.

And, while the 2016/17 fig­ures are not out yet, a num­ber of in­ci­dents have re­ceived wide­spread me­dia cov­er­age over the last year.

Last month, a 33-yearold Sy­den­ham teacher was ar­rested for al­legedly send­ing nude pho­to­graphs and sex­u­ally sug­ges­tive mes­sages to a 14-year-old pupil.

And last year, a Nquthu teacher was also ar­rested af­ter he was filmed hav­ing sex with girls al­leged to be pupils.

Prior to that, a Pi­eter­mar­itzburg school coun­sel­lor was ar­rested on charges of al­legedly mo­lest­ing a six-yearold boy he was sup­posed to be pro­vid­ing ther­apy to.

All three cases are cur­rently be­fore the courts.

Manuel said yes­ter­day that sex­ual abuse in schools was an “ex­tremely wor­ry­ing trend”.

And he said teach­ers were not be­ing prop­erly vet­ted to see if they were suit­able to be in class­rooms be­fore be­ing ap­pointed to posts.

“We know this is a huge ad­min­is­tra­tive bur­den but you just need to vet those who are short­listed for a post,” Manuel said, “so that re­duces the bur­den”.

Sace spokesper­son Themba Ndhlovu ex­plained that they were still fi­nal­is­ing their an­nual re­port for 2016/17 and au­dit­ing their fig­ures to make sure they bal­anced. But he con­firmed they were con­tin­u­ing to field re­ports of sex­ual abuse cases from across the coun­try, on a reg­u­lar ba­sis.

“We are see­ing a lot of re­ports com­ing in,” he said.

Ndhlovu said Sace re­garded these cases as a pri­or­ity.

“One is too many,” he said. “The high num­ber we are re­ceiv­ing – it’s se­ri­ous.”

Pro­vin­cial ed­u­ca­tion spokesper­son Kwazi Mthethwa said the de­part­ment had “a tough stance against the per­pe­tra­tors of sex­ual re­la­tion­ships with learn­ers” and was work­ing to root these peo­ple out.

But, he went on, they needed the pub­lic’s help.

“We urge learn­ers who feel that ad­min­is­tra­tors, teach­ers, or other stu­dents are sub­ject­ing them to sex­ual ha­rass­ment to re­port these con­di­tions to some­one they trust, a mem­ber of the fam­ily, a mem­ber of the com­mu­nity and to the rel­e­vant au­thor­i­ties,” he said.

You just need to vet those who are short­listed

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.