According to a June 14, 2018 Toronto Star report, more than 700 Canadian school employees have committed child abuse. A first-ever national report revealed that 714 school staffers were linked to sexual abuse charges, convictions and disciplinary actions between 1997 and 2017. There were 1300 victims whose lives were were damaged and forever changed.
This is appalling and a real eye opener for parents. School is suppose to be a safe place for children, but Statistics Canada says that 85% of child abuse cases are at the hands of someone known to the child. 86% of the perpetrators according to the school report were certified teachers. Educational assistants, student teachers, special-needs assistants, lunch monitors, custodians and school bus drivers made up the remaining 14%. The overwhelming majority were men – 87%- who preyed on girls. Many of them had secondary roles as coaches, guidance counsellors, tutors and community youth workers. These employees held a privileged position of power and they betrayed trust of both parents and the children in their care.
The report also says that cases of abuse are under-reported because only three provincial teacher licensing bodies (Ontario, B.C., and Saskatchewan) publish disciplinary decisions publicly. Much more transparency is needed to protect children.
The report also investigated tricks used by these predators to lure their child victims. 70% of the offenders groomed their victims by manipulating them to become co-operating participants in the activities. Grooming behaviour reduces detection and disclosure by children.
SOS 4 Kids offers personal safety courses for children 7 – 14 that include curriculum that help kids learn how to identify “tricky people”. A tricky person is someone who uses tricks to fool a child and to earn his or her trust.
Sex abusers come from all walks of life and are often in positions of power. Grooming techniques in person or on the internet as methods to prey on kids. Common tricks used by predators are lavishing children with attention, compliments and gifts. Parents can make sure their kids know to never go anywhere with anyone or accept gifts from anybody without asking permission first from a trusted adult. An adult asking a child to keep secrets from parents is a big red flag. Kids should also know that trust is earned overtime based on a person’s behaviour. They should not trust people just because they are adults. A trustworthy person is reliable, open, honest, respectful of boundaries, kind and will never hurt a child intentionally.
Empower kids to look after themselves by teaching them people safety skills and knowledge. Parents can create scenarios to help kids learn to identify tricks and to teach them to tell a trusted person if they feel uncomfortable or threatened. Identify for your kids who the trusted adults in their lives are. Parents aren’t always around to protect their children so kids should learn the skills they need to protect themselves.