Those affected speak publicly about sexual violence in schools

The Review Board holds a public hearing for the fifth time. The focus of today’s event is the school, as a crime scene, but also as a refuge.



Press release

Independent Commission to Investigate Child Sexual Abuse

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The school was and is a central place for children and young people. It shapes their educational path and their personal development. School can also be an important place of retreat and protection for girls and boys, but also a crime scene of sexualized violence.

The 5th Public Hearing “Child Sexual Abuse and School” would like to give affected people the opportunity to share their experiences. Furthermore, the following should be discussed with them and with representatives of politics, practice and science: What conditions have made abuse in schools possible? What structures and attitudes have been used to hide violence and prevent enlightenment? Have the children and young people been helped?

“Schools have a responsibility to ensure that children and young people grow up without violence, even in their own institutions. About 160 victims who had suffered sexual violence at school contacted us. A first evaluation shows that the authors often remained on duty undisturbed until retirement. Education authorities and school policies have a responsibility to deal with such cases and therefore recognize the right of those affected to deal with them Brigitte TilmanMember of the Commission.

Sexual assaults reported by those affected and some contemporary witnesses were mostly committed by teachers, occasionally by the school administration or other school staff. The abuse took place in the principal’s office, in the library, in the infirmary, but also during class or at the teachers’ home. An initial evaluation shows that schools of all types and levels are represented: in addition to elementary schools there are also elementary and lower secondary schools and schools for the deaf. The cases date back to the 1960s; a series of attacks did not occur until the 1990s and 2000s.

In many hearings and reports of those affected, it also becomes clear that school can also be an important refuge, regardless of the area where children and young people have experienced sexual violence. Those affected repeatedly describe seeking help at school or hoping to find help there.

In the past, however, this potential of schools has not been sufficiently exploited. Again and again there have been missed opportunities to end the suffering of children early. For example, because they were not believed when they confided in a teacher or because those in charge did not take clues and signals seriously and did not follow them. A first evaluation reveals a lack of knowledge on the part of teachers, as well as a lack of support structures and guidelines for action. But also a rejection of the subject and a great reluctance, for example to interfere in the private space of the family or to pursue a suspicion about a colleague.

Victims who have experienced sexual violence at school also report having contacted the school administration or responsible school authority as adults. This was followed by disciplinary proceedings against the teachers. However, some of those affected criticize this measure as insufficient and demand that accidents be treated.

to Brigitte Tilman: “Today, affected adults are concerned that those responsible in schools are concerned only with protecting the reputation and reputation of the school. They lack an open attitude towards them and a clear will to really want to know what happened in their structure in the past ”.

In 2019, the commission developed recommendations to address child sexual abuse in institutions. This provides institutions with binding criteria for dealing with past abuses in their institutions. In this way, data subjects can claim their right to treatment and rely on clear criteria.

In the next phase, the commission is planning a case study on sexual violence and schools. Aspects of the crime scene, shelter and school as a place of learning need to be fully evaluated.

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