It’s unusual for me to drive past my daughter’s school on the weekend. Doing the Monday to Friday drop off is often enough.
But this weekend I found myself on Saturday morning parked outside the school gates, staring blankly at brick buildings. I could see classrooms, with windows decorated in children’s paintings. There was the school hall, the same one where we were taken two years prior to tour the facilities.
I could see the kindy area and I could see the playground for the big kids. It was just the same as every primary school on a Saturday, devoid of laughter, devoid of children. But still I sat there, staring.
My eye caught the toilet block. I had to look away. Because here I was, assessing what is now a crime scene, wondering if a school can promise me that my daughter will be safe when she is not with me.
Like most people, I was rocked to the core when last week I read about the unspeakable horror of a six-year-old girl who was allegedly raped at school by two 12-year-old boys. The details were sketchy but the news reported that the school in question was located on the Northern Beaches in Sydney. My heart sank. That’s where I live.
As soon as the news broke I was scouring the local ‘mummy pages’ for information. They are usually the first in the know. I needed to know that it wasn’t as close to home as I feared.
There was speculation, there were rumours and eventually, there was a message from admin indicating that out of respect for those involved, no further information would be posted.
I told myself that there are lots of schools in our area, not that it makes the situation any different, but like any parent, the facts of the case were so disturbing that I wanted to be as far away from it as possible. I didn't want the kids in question to be the same ones my child sat with in classes, the same ones dressed in identical uniforms to the one I put her in each day.
Later, my fears were confirmed. The incident happened at our school. The victim was only three years younger than my daughter.