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I worry about the safety of my child

When it comes to stories about schoolkids molesting fellow pupils, rely on the facts rather than gossip.

QUESTION:

One of the boys at my child’s primary school has been in trouble for molesting other students. I’m not sure of the details but it is a small school and people talk, so parents are aware there is a problem. And this problem is not going away, because the boy is still there. Some parents are taking their children out of school. I feel that may be an over-reaction but I also want to protect my child from harm. What should I do?

ANSWER:

In any circumstance such as you describe it is important to rely on known facts rather than unverified gossip. This means seeking accurate information from reliable sources as far as possible. Of course the safety of all the children is of paramount importance but this also means the safety of the boy concerned. If the boy’s offending behaviour is confirmed then it is incumbent on the school and its governing body to ensure the safety of its students. Part of this is to make a judgement about the offence and the likelihood of any re-offending. As difficult as it may be to acknowledge, the boy and his family also need support and if required some psychological assistance.

The potential benefits (if any) of moving your child should be weighed against the costs of disruption to your child’s socialisation and education. Such behaviour can occur in any school environment so simply moving your child will not guarantee safety. It will be more productive to encourage the school to provide students with education in “protective behaviours” to help prevent such occurrences in the future. Talking directly with your child and role playing appropriate responses to inappropriate behaviours will also assist in providing protection.

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Fill out the form below or send questions to Family Forum, The Advertiser, 31 Waymouth St, Adelaide 5000.

We treat communications in strict confidence except when the law demands otherwise, as in child abuse.

Relationships Australia (SA) appoints panels of general practitioners, medical specialists, lawyers, therapeutic and financial counsellors to discuss each letter before the appropriate professional answers it.

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