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Kate Malone

Published: 28 October 2019
Author: Kate Malone

Growing reports against teachers, including sex abuse

As previously reported by RCT, we are seeing a steady increase in the number of childhood abuse survivors coming forward with reports of being abused in school classrooms or in the school yard. Recent disturbing reports have only confirmed this trend.

It was recently reported in the media that more than 700 Victorian teachers are being investigated by the Victorian Institute of Teaching (VIT) over alleged misconduct and that 10 teachers were disqualified in the last 12 months up to June 2019 after being found guilty of sexual offences involving children. A further 19 teachers were suspended during that period, and are under investigation, some of whom are alleged to have also committed sexual offences.

According to The Age, the VIT’s register of disciplinary action during the above period includes references to the disqualification of:

  • Ryan Edwards, a former Bendigo teacher; and;
  • Richard Grabski, a former Sunshine teacher;

and to the suspension of:

  • Timothy Baker, a former teacher at Bayside Christian College in Langwarrin;
  • Steven Grant Dockley, a former teacher at Kurnai College;
  • James Treasure, a primary school teacher; and
  • Kathryn Woods.

Community demands child safety

The VIT has stated that the number of investigations has skyrocketed in recent times due to a shift in community standards for child safety.

Increased reports of teacher misconduct, particularly sexual offending against students is disappointing. Following the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, our society should now have a clear understanding that there is a demonstrated risk of vulnerable children being taken advantage of and abused in circumstances where the wrong people are placed in positions of authority and power. The fact that children today are still being abused in places where they ought to be considered safe, is of course intolerable.

On the other hand, the increase in reporting and investigations in relation to teacher misconduct is in some ways a reassuring development. It shows that as a society, we are at least learning from some of the mistakes of the past and are ensuring that children who have sadly been abused have a voice and an avenue where they can make complaints in an environment where they will be believed. Unfortunately, for many of our clients, this was not the case during their childhood and their complaints of abuse were either ignored or met with disbelief and further hostility towards them.

Building a future where children are believed and heard

Many of our clients express that they wish to tell their stories in the hope that it can effect change in the future and assist in working towards a society where all children are properly protected and heard. While in many ways we still have a long way to go, there are at least some positive developments that show we are moving away from our past and towards a better future.

If you are a survivor of institutional childhood sexual abuse and would like advice about your rights and entitlements, call a member of our sexual abuse team on 1300 366 441 or email us on enquiries@rctlaw.com.au.

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