By: Natasha Archary
The 21stMarch will always be a stark reminder of the lengths, sacrifices and blood lost to rid the country of the bondage of apartheid. As Human Rights Day approaches, we’re reminded to never take the basic human rights we have since attained for granted.
It’s also equally important to acknowledge that there are still many discriminatory practices in the country today, with communities still living in squalor. So, while there is a lot to be celebrating, we still have a long way to go.
As a parent one of the most pertinent issues I have at the moment is that of education. Something every parent prioritizes and strives to be able to provide that for their child. It’s not just about finding a school that fits the whole family,no. Who will be educating our children is just as critical for me.
No teachers screened
The South African Education Department has not screened a single teacher, principal, official or caregiver against the National Sex Offenders Register. Do you have any idea what this means? It means that as a parent you will not know if an educator has a criminal history of sexual offenses.
You could be placing your child in the most highly acclaimed school in the country, who employs a pedophile. The devastating sexual abuse at Parktown Boys High School comes to mind. Water-polo coach, Collan Rex, admitted to 144 counts of sexual assault with 12 boys at the school.
This excludes the count of rape, 94 counts of attempted murder for allegedly choking the boys, exposure to porn and sexual grooming. While Rex is behind bars for the next 23 years, this does little for the psychological war the victims and families have to endure for the rest of their lives.
The damage is already done. Innocent children are being subjected to sexual misconduct by the educators, we as parents trust.
Rex is just one of the sexual predators to be named and shamed. In October 2018, it was revealed that a total of 98 South African teachers were dismissed for a number of offenses, including having sexual relationships with pupils.
Hundreds of educators from 6 provinces were given final written warnings, fines and were suspended without pay. Sexual abuse aside, there have also been an increase in physical abuse by teachers on pupils in schools.
Social media evidence of educators slapping around pupils continue to spark public uproar about the standard our Education Department is setting. In May last year, a contending political party and members laid a criminal complaint against the South African Council for Educators, for failing to vet teachers against the sex offender register.
That was the last we heard about the complaint. When will our children be safe in schools? Is this not a priority? We’re basically giving sexual offenders power. Handing our children over to them, because they’re the professionals who were hired to educate the next generation.
In 2018, 1000 schoolgirls fell pregnant. Late last year, a KZN high school teacher had reportedly impregnated 5 pupils.
A parent’s right to have all educators screened
I stand by the criminal complaint made. I’m of the belief that EVERY educator, caregiver, daycare, principal and official at every school in the country should be thoroughly vetted. Sexual offenses, criminal records, history of violence, mental health issues etc. should all be disclosed to parents upon enrollment.
Right now, nothing is being done to curb the incidents of sexual abuse on children in the country. They’re sitting ducks at the hands of sick and disturbed individuals who more often than not get away with these heinous acts. For every child who spoke out about abuse at the hands of teachers, how many others have remained silent? Not knowing which way to turn?
No measures in place mean free reign. No laws in place gives the green light for this behavior to continue. We’ve made examples of a few but how many sit behind desks, with evil intentions, waiting to pounce on your children?