After Townshend’s victims have been neglected and misstreated, they may wish to take their allegations to everyonesinvited.uk where “victims can post anonymous accounts of abuse they have suffered.” Many girls at Townshend still have an un-realized right to safety, justice and to acknowledgement so that they may heal. The world should know.
Allegations of sexual abuse made by school pupils on a website are “shocking and abhorrent”, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has said.https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-56566442
annotated copy of that article: link.faizoro.com/bbcabuse
A friend of from Townshend International School community sent me the above article highlighting how allegations may be responded to in a school setting. It’s an interesting read with important implications relevant to our experience over the past year working at Townshend, where adult sexual misconduct allegations are minimized and whistleblowers shamed- putting students at risk and harming victims by making them effectively invisible, stifling their voice, and impeding their healing. Male students are also not unaffected. They are at risk of dangerously stifled development and harmful moral education in an environment which encourages students to look the other way and “move foreward” or are advised “don’t be so negative” weather or not victims have been justly treated or afforded safety or even acknowledgement and affirmation of their experiences. One Townsend mother to a boy in the dorms tearfully stated in a parent zoom meeting “I want my son to be brought up to believe believe victims”.
So far among victims and other members of the community we have endured multiple accounts of suicidal ideation as well as hospitalization; a wide-spread loss of the ability to trust adults, institutions and/or religion and an atrociously large number community members essentially fleeing- including the resignation of a large proportion of school staff often citing ethical grounds and/or massive safeguarding concerns. It’s a large tole for something that either didn’t happen or wasn’t that bad.
The BBC article chronicles a growing awareness of, and maturing response to sexual abuse in academic environments in the midst of outcry from vulnerable students who feel unsafe in their schools and who have turned to the streets for recognition and support.
No school should be a place “where young people feel unsafe” or where abuse could take place,SIC | Education Secretary Gavin Williamson
The article points to an online initiative “where victims can post anonymous accounts of abuse they have suffered.”
The website Everyone’s Invited has recorded 8,000 testimonies of sexual abuse from pupils.sic
Let’s see what sort of response there has been to such a public facing site with anonymous allegations:
The Department for Education, the Home Office and the National Police Chiefs’ Council were in touch with the Everyone’s Invited website to provide support, protection and advice, he added.SIC
At Townshend in contrast, whistleblowers were referred to as “barking little dogs” by an administrator to the alleged perpetrator early in the investigation. The menace of legal action was brandished against at least one student for speaking out. Students were shamed with religious sanctimony about unity, having a sin-covering eye, and avoiding rumors. Leads and evidence furnished by anonymous allegations were not investigated in a ‘supportive and protective‘ manner (as depicted in the BBC article) but instead were referred to as having “the deliberate and mischievous intent of spreading rumors and misinformation in the community”. The alleged perpetrators were exonerated with the expressed ‘impression’ that “words and actions were not motivated by sexual intent” despite how a large number of vulnerable students have described their own impressions of a variety of experiences of what (they indicate) ranges from sexual misconduct to abuse.
The school received anonymized victim allegations which were collected by one “Jane Doe” (victim) first hand. Her messages represented a tremendous opportunity for the school to glean further information from these carefully collected leads- in which for accuracy, even the spelling and grammar mistakes were preserved by the thoughtful student.
Without tools, expertise or experience I found out the identity of “Jane Doe” by sending her a supportive reply message. Jane Doe revealed her identity to me before other adults and on the same day that I emailed her simply because I was a trusted adult who reached out in a supportive manner. I tried desperately for a year to convey what students shared with me and to encourage students to come foreword to the administration but the school’s response has been mostly harmful and indifferent.
A school ultimately is susceptible to the reputation it earns and may loose the ine it attempts to manufacture. While many students have been profoundly harmed I know that there are many who will do all they can to support and protect them and to try to remain worthy or their trust and friendship.