Sen­si­tive mat­ter calls for cool heads

Zululand Observer - Monday - - ZO OPINION -

Un­der­stand­ably, par­ents at one of the city’s most prom­i­nent pri­mary schools were shocked to dis­cover a sup­port staff mem­ber (as­sis­tant teacher) had re­port­edly be­haved in a sex­u­ally in­ap­pro­pri­ate man­ner to­wards a num­ber of young boys.

The mat­ter is now in the most ca­pa­ble hands of the crack Em­pan­geni SAPS Fam­ily Vi­o­lence, Child Pro­tec­tion and Sex­ual Of­fences Unit and will fol­low the due course of crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem in­ves­ti­ga­tion and pos­si­ble trial.

With­out nec­es­sary ref­er­ence to this par­tic­u­lar in­ci­dent, there are a num­ber of is­sues per­tain­ing to such anti-so­cial be­hav­iour.

One is that there seems to be of late a grow­ing num­ber of such in­ci­dents be­ing re­ported.

While this might in­di­cate an in­creased preva­lence in modern so­ci­ety of such dys­func­tional be­hav­iour, it could also be that peo­ple – es­pe­cially the young – are feel­ing much more at ease about com­ing for­ward to re­port such ac­tiv­i­ties.

It should come as no sur­prise that sex­ual de­viants who tend to­wards pae­dophilia should from time to time sur­face at schools, es­pe­cially those where there are op­por­tu­ni­ties for them to be­come hos­tel masters and have greater ac­cess to their vic­tims.

With more time and pri­vacy to win the trust of the young innocents – and of­ten to scare them into not re­port­ing their mis­deeds to adults, or to shame them into feel­ing guilty – they exploit their vul­ner­a­bil­ity.

It has been known for some of­fend­ers to move from place to place and for their em­ploy­ees to sim­ply ‘get rid of the prob­lem’ by fir­ing them with­out no­ti­fy­ing au­thor­i­ties.

They then move on to other schools, churches or youth groups.

Bear­ing in mind the pos­si­ble long-term im­pacts of such an or­deal on an im­pres­sion­able young per­son, aware­ness that such ac­tiv­i­ties are tak­ing place should lead to prompt, de­ci­sive and sen­si­tive re­ac­tion mea­sures.

These are not sim­ply is­sues re­stricted to the depart­ment, schools and par­ents; there are le­gal, spir­i­tual, counselling and crim­i­nal im­pli­ca­tions, among oth­ers.

It is un­likely a per­son ex­hibit­ing de­viant con­duct at one lo­ca­tion will be­have dif­fer­ently at other places, so there is a lot of back­ground check­ing-up to be done.

One trusts the Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion has a man­ual or at least has is­sued guide­lines on the cor­rect steps schools should take on dis­cov­ery of such con­duct.

If such pro­ce­dures are not in place, they ought to be, for the depart­ment and the school now ‘owns’ the prob­lem, by de­fault.

Af­ter all is said and done, the well-be­ing of pupils is para­mount, and comes be­fore pro­tect­ing the name of the in­sti­tu­tion or pun­ish­ing (or re­ha­bil­i­tat­ing) the of­fender.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.