As the Education Ministry begins to probe reports of the sexual misconduct of a male teacher of the Bishops’ High School, the Child Care and Protection Agency is standing ready to assist with the probe and to offer counseling to students.
In an interview with News Source on Tuesday, Director of the Child Care and Protection Agency, Ann Greene, said the agency is in receipt of a statement from a young woman who was a victim of the teacher’s sexual advances and predatory behavior.
She would not offer any other detail on the statement, but said the Agency is open to meeting with other alleged victims and the school.
“This must be investigated in its entirety and charges filed if evidence points there”, she said, adding that the statement will be handed over to the Police for it to further pursue the matter.
The Director reminded that when the law speaks of the age of sixteen being the age of consent, it is tied specifically to the marriage act and does not give the green light for a sixteen-year-old to be lured or groomed for sex. She said the law not only ties the consent age to the marriage act, but a 16-year-old would also be required to get the consent of parents in cases where they want to get married at the early age of sixteen.
Ms. Greene also pointed out that when it comes to persons who are holding positions of trust, the law is even clearer in those persons being held accountable and possibly facing jail time once they engage in sexual activity with those who would have been entrusted to their care.
She said “if you are holding a position of trust and your are preying on young people and grooming them, then that is an offence that is punishable by as much as life in prison”.
According to reports, one of the alleged victims of the teacher has related that the week before her 16th birthday, she was approached by the teacher, who told her that she was approaching the consent age. The young woman said he began having sexual relations with her just after she reached the age of sixteen. She was one of his students.
The Child Care and Protection Agency has been seeking to step up its fight against sexual abuse of children.
The Director said children must feel as if it is okay for them to relate the stories of abuse and the environment must be created for that to take place. She said schools should call in the agency when faced with complaints from students and allow the counselors to speak privately and confidentially with the students.
“Teachers could call for help and we will interview the children privately and let them know that they are not in trouble. It is okay to tell. It is very difficult to get children to speak about abuse when it is people that they trust”, she noted.
Ms. Greene said children should not be made to feel guilt, because in many instances that leads to other problems.
The Child Care Director is adamant that people must speak up and teachers should too, because if they know of situations and say nothing then that would make them an accessory to what is taking place.
The Education Ministry has announced that it will investigate the matter.