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Conviction of teacher highlights need

Press Release

Conviction of teacher highlights need for Child Protection Policies

According to a report in the New Zealand Herald yesterday a ministerial inquiry is set to reveal "weaknesses" in a vetting system which allowed a sex offender to gain teaching positions at up to eight New Zealand schools. The man had used multiple fake identities to gain posts in at least two, and possible six other schools, she said.

Alan Bell, Director of the child protection agency ECPAT Child ALERT says “This is untenable. Every parent has a right to be sure their children are safe at school. It is one of the places where children should be nurtured and cared for and absolutely safe from abusers. One can only hope that further investigation of this man does not reveal a trail of abused children. The sooner name suppression is lifted the better – schools and parents should know this person under whatever names he has used to ensure they can fully in the picture.”

Education Minister Hekia Parata immediately launched an inquiry after it was revealed the offender, who was convicted of a sexual offence against a minor in 2004, was hired as a teacher. "School communities have been informed and the Ministry of Education is actively working with those schools. It is possible that several other schools have also been affected," she said. The inquiry will look at how the offender was able to breach the system and how it can be strengthened, Ms Parata said. "Clearly there are weaknesses in the system."

“Every place where children are cared for should have a Child Protection Policy in place with all staff aware of the standards and required to sign their agreement with the procedures. This includes schools, youth clubs, sports clubs, care centres, churches and any place that provides any form of child care service. The Policy should have information on the risks, what indicators to be aware of, what to do if there is suspect abusive behaviour and basic rules pertaining to adult behaviour with children.” says Bell. “ Special vigilance needs to be employed at the time of recruiting new staff and a robust vetting and reference checking with previous employers should be executed.”

ECPAT Child ALERT is a registered charitable trust working to prevent the sexual exploitation of children.

ends

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