Sex pest still under investigation

The staff member of a Grassy Park high school who has been caught pictured in inappropriate poses with girl pupils has been suspended.

The principal says he cannot speak with the pupils involved about the incident because he does not want to jeopardise the pending investigation.

The staff member was seen kissing and touching the girls in school uniform in pictures tweeted from the account of Man’s Not Barry roux @Adv.BarryRoux The account uses the name of defence lawyer Barry Roux who famously defended convicted murderer and Paralympian Oscar Pistorius but it is not associated with him.

Emojis were used to hide faces.

The principal told Southern Mail he couldn’t divulge any information but said the staff member had not been arrested.

Millicent Merton, communications officer for the Western Cape Education Department (WCED), said their Labour Relations Directorate is still investigating the case.

“We can confirm that the department is aware of an allegation of sexual misconduct by a staff member at the school.

“We view allegations of this kind in a very serious light and investigate them immediately.”

Ms Merton said police had been informed about the case.

However, Warrant Officer Wynita Kleinsmith, spokesperson for Grassy Park police, said no criminal case has been opened which needs to be done before a arrest can be made.

SihleNgobese,spokesperson for Social Development MEC, Albert Fritz, said child protection social workers would get involved from a Children’s Act perspective. “This matter is being dealt with by the WCED, which is taking disciplinary action. The Department of Social Development is also looking into the matter, and will assist our colleagues at the Department of Education.”

When asked if the principal and staff had any suspicion that the accused was acting in such a manner , the principal said: “No. He is a pastor and he had been using a classroom as a church on Sundays.”

The principal said the accused has been at their school for many years but he did not want to divulge for how long.

The principal said although he cannot speak to the children about the incident, he can assure the community that there are “regular anti bullying campaigns and sex education from the start of the year as part of the syllabus, dealt with from Grade 8 to Grade 12. We get people to speak to the children openly where they would call a spade a spade,” he said.

The principal said it had been traumatic for the teachers and staff to hear about the incident all over the media. “However, we can assure the parents and community that we are doing everything in our power to keep the children safe at school.”

He said teachers and staff try their best to give the children a holistic education. “So this incident throws us out.”

Southern Mail asked Dawn Fish, spokesperson for Mosaic Family Services in Wynberg, what would typically drive young girls to be lured into situations like this. She said it could be due to numerous reasons including that:

* The attention given might be something that is desired by the girl due to a lack of attention at home

* The father might be emotionally absent from her life or has lacked giving her the necessary attention.

* There is a challenge by peers to have “fun” and push their boundaries.

When asked why young girls are easy targets for predators, Ms Fish said there were not enough safety warnings early enough for the vulnerable group.

She said predators are out to control and exercise their power and in this regard the man clearly misused his position and power.

Ms Fish said if sexual activity had taken place then as minors this would be rape/ sexual abuse even if it was consensual.

She said rape/ sexual abuse has life-long effects and affects each individual differently. It might leave them traumatised and affect their personality and social interaction with others, especially with the opposite
sex.

The individual might experience guilt, shame and embarrassment as well as self-blame, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, anger outbursts, eating disorders and trust issues.

Ms Fish said Rape Trauma Syndrome (RTS) is the psychological trauma experienced by a rape/sexual abuse survivor that includes disruptions to normal physical, emotional , cognitive and interpersonal behaviour. This could exist for most of or all her life.

When asked what parents can do to help prevent their children from falling victim to this kind of threat at schools, Ms Fish said parents must educate their children about the dangers.

“This goes all the way back to as soon as the child is able to understand what mommy and daddy are saying.”

Parents must teach children about wrong touches and that no one has a right to touch you in a manner that causes uncomfortable feelings.

Children must be taught about the importance of self-love, self-honour and self-respect.

“Godly principles are sadly lacking in schools and at home. As parents, we are our children’s first teacher, we have a God-given responsibility to raise our children according to the Word of God, irrespective of social status, race, culture or religion.”

Ms Fish added: “Sadly there are too many single-headed households with missing fathers. I call this the ‘Father Void Syndrome’. Many fathers fail to fulfil their role towards their daughters as the first man to compliment her and make her feel like the princess she should be instead of waiting for another man/father figure to compliment her and then get caught up in destructive ‘relationships’ where her vulnerability is taken advantage of and results in rape/sexual abuse.”