We now know about the horrors of Knox Grammar. But how many other schools were hiding the same secrets?
As the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse shines the spotlight on Knox Grammar we sit aghast at how this school, and, so many others could fail our children so badly.
As parents we all want our children to be safe always…
But what are we talking about? How many schools? How many children?
Then? Now? How have things changed and what can we expect in years to come?
The Royal Commission has shown that there is no one school type implicated – religious, secular, single-sex or co-ed.
More pertinent than features of difference are those of cultural similarity. Failure to notice, failure to believe, failure to report, failure to act.
In some cases there was more than one perpetrator. In others, principals and other teachers were complicit in protecting perpetrators. Those guilty were moved from school to school, exposing more children to harm.
What was it like for the children trapped in a culture in which they were scared to disclose, threatened into silence, punished for speaking out? To be told they were special and plied with treats to prove it – victims of insidious grooming behaviour which went unrecognised. Only to learn that being special brought repeated pain, angst and shame.
As we watch victims come forward to speak out about their horror and entrapment, the incredible betrayal they felt, the power imbalance which kept them disempowered, we are moved by their courage and shocked by their angst. The horrors of living for years with inappropriate shame, guilt and self-blame, imposed on them by their perpetrators and a culture which ostracised and punished victims.