Yesterday, in my capacity as a Parent Governor, I went on a training course entitled ‘Safer Recruitment’ as I have been fortunate enough to have been involved in interviewing for Teaching Assistants. The purpose was to learn how to try to prevent the recruitment of abusers of children into schools, where they would be surrounded by potential victims. We were given some gruelling details of cases that had arisen and the lengths that some perpetrators will go to in order to hide their abuse of vulnerable children has haunted me. Then of course the main content was showing us how to deter potential paedophiles from applying for posts in schools and what to look out for in job applications, in references and at interview. It was an informative and sobering training course and has preyed on my mind overnight.
I came away incredulous at the desperate cruelty that has been imposed on innocent children and at the manipulation that these, often clever, abusers carry out in order to conceal their crimes. It is a frightening world that we let our vulnerable youngsters into and the prospect that they might confide in a member of staff at school, expecting them to be wholly trustworthy, only to find out that they may take advantage of that trust for their own gains, is a sickening one.
Clearly all children are potentially vulnerable to these predators, but a Special School may well attract an even more sinister characters. Many of our pupils would not have the capacity to understand that what was happening to them was abuse and many would not have the ability to report it either. And so in this situation, we have to be even more vigilant in our duty of care to these children. Joshua would certainly not be able to tell me if he was being physically, sexually or emotionally abused and so I have to trust that he is surrounded by honourable people at school and at respite, staff who only have his best interests at heart.
Having attended yesterday’s course, I could take the view that I should never let Joshua out of my sight ,as there are potential abusers at every turn. But instead I take the view that Thank God Joshua attends a school where they take safe recruitment and safeguarding so seriously. But what about in other settings such as at his respite provision where he goes alone? Fortunately we never leave his side at medical apointments, so he could not fall prey to the evil orthodentist for example. My natural personality is to give everyone the benefit of the doubt on my first meeting and to assume that they have only good motives at heart, but sadly I am learning that this could be a naive approach and as I get older, sadly I am getting to be more cynical and wary.