Australia child abuse inquiry: Final recommendations released

A five-year inquiry into child sexual abuse in Australia has released its final report, making more than 400 recommendations.

The royal commission uncovered harrowing evidence of sexual abuse within institutions, including churches, boarding schools and sports clubs.

Since 2013, it has referred more than 2,500 allegations to authorities.

The final report, released on Friday, added 189 recommendations to 220 that had already been made public.

Tens of thousands of children have been sexually abused in many Australian institutions. We will never know the true number,” the report said.

“It is not a case of a few ‘rotten apples’. Society’s major institutions have seriously failed.”

Religious ministers and school teachers were the most commonly reported perpetrators, the report said.

[Two inquiries in the UK into sexual abuse of children in boarding schools and other institutions are ongoing…]

BBC News

Downside and Ampleforth: IICSA hearings underway

End secrecy of confessionals ‘to protect Catholic children’

Child sexual abuse inquiry is told that not reporting suspected incidents should be a crime

Mandatory reporting of sexual misconduct and abolishing the secrecy of the priest’s confessional box are needed to protect children at Catholic schools, the national inquiry into child sexual abuse has been told.

At the opening of a three-week hearing into Benedictine schools, lawyers representing scores of victims have called for fundamental changes to the way the church handles complaints and deals with suspected offenders.

Richard Scorer, of the law firm Slater and Gordon, who represents 27 core participants at the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), said the failure to make reporting suspected abuse a crime had allowed clerics to evade responsibility.

“A mandatory reporting law would have changed their behaviour,” Scorer told the hearing. “At Downside Abbey, abuse was discovered but not reported and abusers were left to free to abuse again and great harm was done to victims.

The Guardian

Corporal punishment in UK schools

Corporal punishment was prohibited in all state-supported education in 1986. The prohibition was extended to cover private schools in England and Wales in 1998, in Scotland in 2000, and in Northern Ireland in 2003. But in 2014 the Government confirmed that legislation does not prohibit corporal punishment in “unregistered independent settings providing part-time education”.

Country Report

Smacking to be banned in Scotland

Smacking children is to be banned in Scotland, the Scottish government has confirmed.

The move would make the country the first part of the UK to outlaw the physical punishment of children.

Ministers had previously said they did not support parents using physical chastisement, but had “no plans” to bring forward legislation of their own.

But the government has now confirmed it will ensure a bill lodged by Green MSP John Finnie will become law.

And it is understood that ministers will work with Mr Finnie to implement the bill in practice.

His proposals, which were out for consultation over the summer, would give children the same legal protection as adults.

At present, parents in Scotland can claim a defence of “justifiable assault” when punishing their child – although the use of an “implement” in any punishment is banned, as is shaking or striking a child on the head.

BBC News

The Guardian

Wycombe Abbey boarding school teacher given lifetime teaching ban for sex with pupil

A drama teacher had sex with a former pupil at a top boarding school after sending her Valentines Day messages.

Matthew McGowan, 38, touched the girl’s bottom, pulled her close to him and stroked the insides of her thighs during rehearsals for a school play.

He also wrote ‘Happy Valentines’ Day from a secret admirer 😉 ‘ in the Year 13 pupil’s diary.

McGowan was a drama teacher at the £12,600 a term all girls boarding school Wycombe Abbey School in High Wycombe, Bucks, when the incidents took place in 2013.

He also gave her his personal email address in October 2014, wrote inappropriate messages on one or more occasions and gave her his private mobile number.

He also engaged in an inappropriate relationship with “Pupil A” after she left the school and engaged in sexual activity with her on school premises on one or more occasions.

McGowan was said to have tried to get the girl to lie to police and give a false account of the nature of their relationship during the police investigation in 2016.

Teacher misconduct panel outcome: Mr Matthew McGowan

Daily Mirror

Daily Mail

Government mulls setting minimum boarding school age as part of reforms

But it is not the UK or devolved governments…

By SIMON NDONGA, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 14 – The Ministry of Education is mulling setting a minimum age at which parents will be allowed to enroll their children in boarding school.

Speaking at the requiem mass for the nine girls killed in a fire at the Moi Girls School, Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang said they should be competent enough to handle themselves in case of emergency.

At what age do we allow our children to be in boarding schools? This may affect our primary schools because we would want to be sure that when our children are in boarding schools at primary school level, they are of such an age that in case of challenges they  can be able to take care of themselves,” he told mourners.

Kipsang described the tragic loss of life in the Moi Girls fire as heart breaking as it is something that could have been prevented.

Capital News (Kenya)

Former staff questioned over boarding school abuse claims

Five people have been questioned in connection with alleged historical abuse at three boarding schools.

The former teachers and members of staff have been interviewed under caution by Gloucestershire Police.

The men worked at Badgeworth Court and Dowdeswell Court near Cheltenham, and Clouds House near Salisbury.

Five other former school workers, including teachers, have already been arrested and bailed during the inquiry.

The allegations of physical and sexual abuse carried out on boys as young as seven date to the 1960s and 1980s. The schools are now closed.

BBC News

Jewish boarding school in Gateshead branded ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted inspectors

Pupils at a Jewish boarding school where full background checks were not carried out on staff have been put at risk – inspectors have claimed.

The Yeshiva Lezeirim Preparatory Academy, in Gateshead, offers a year of schooling to Orthodox Jewish boys aged 15-16, aimed at preparing them for further study in aspects of the faith.

But a recent visit by Ofsted found that safeguarding arrangements were not good enough, and pupils weren’t making enough progress in non-religious aspects of the curriculum.

Inspectors examined both the teaching and education at the boarding school, and the quality of social care for the children who stay over in the boarding house, in separate inspections.

It was judged to be inadequate in both reports.

Policies intended to keep pupils safe did not meet national standards, inspectors found. Insufficient checks were made on staff background, meaning “the school may employ people who are not suitable to care for the pupils”.

Chronicle Live

Boarding school teacher facing teaching ban over allegations he had sex with a teenage pupil.

A teacher at one of Britain’s most prestigious public schools had sex with a teenage pupil in his classroom, a misconduct panel heard.

Dr Dean Johnson, 52, a physics master at Charterhouse in Godalming, Surrey, revealed his fantasies in Facebook messages to the girl beforehand.

He also asked what her underwear size was before buying stockings and presenting them to her gift-wrapped.

The astronomy and astrophysics specialist, who joined the £36,000-a-year boarding school in 1997, is facing a teaching ban after the panel found the allegations proven.

It heard he resigned in 2013 when the relationship came to light, after the girl complained to police.

An investigation led to his conviction for possessing extreme pornography, which depicted a woman being hanged, in 2015. He has since taught abroad.

Evening Standard

Daily Mail