Francis Tome: Society must cull sex deviant teachers

By virtue of their profession, society has placed much trust in teachers. They are expected to inspire freedom of thought and expression and a rigorous pursuit of knowledge among pupils. In such a crucible, ideas are supposed to be wrought. Indeed each and every one of us is a proud product of teachers. The environment within which knowledge was churned gave each of us an equal opportunity to shine according to his or her gifts. However, this enabling environment has since then drastically changed.

There have been unfortunate reports that some students have been sexually assaulted, touched inappropriately or courted in suggestive manner by their teachers. It is also worrying that the cases so far reported may just be a tip of the ice berg given that many offenders are not reported because their targets do not want to alert their parents or relevant authorities. This trend spells doom for the children as well as the society bearing in mind that the children`s chances of achievement in life is seriously compromised from the first minute they set foot in the classrooms of these perverts.

The Teachers Service Commission (TSC) has had to suspend, dismiss and even deregister such pedophiles in accordance with the code of regulations. The fact that there has been an increase in the number of teachers found guilty of misconduct should be seen as an encouraging sign that TSC has detection systems in place which are having an effect.

It must be noted albeit sadly that any occupation with children as its clientele will attract a proportion of people who are predators or simply morally weak. And, since these people do not have permanent tattoos on their foreheads, detection and prevention mechanisms will never be 100% effective. Hence, reports that TSC has tolerated endless deviance from sex pests are inaccurate. The day the mainstream media reports that no teachers have been interdicted, suspended, dismissed and even deregistered is the day the country should truly be worried!

Having said that, I must quickly add that there is genuine concern that the punishment meted to pedophiles by TSC is not deterrent enough. In my considered opinion such teachers ought not to be disciplined by TSC alone. After dispensing with them, TSC should then haul such offenders before the courts of law to be culled.

However, in calling for stiffer penalties, it must be understood that there are two sides for every story. So until and unless the claims have been corroborated beyond any reasonable doubt, it would be naïve for anyone to expect TSC to hastily take punitive measures (other than an interdiction pending investigations) against any of its employees. We have seen quite a number of teachers terribly suffer from false accusations.

Moreover, suffice to say that it hurts the lot of the over 240,000 teachers who are doing excellent work when the public and the mainstream media make unfortunate generalizations about teachers in entirety. Such ill informed comments will only serve the purpose of demoralizing the many diligent teachers.

We must accept the fact that individuals roused by pubescent desires are not only a preserve of the teaching profession. They are everywhere. We have seen priests, policemen, doctors, lawyers, businessmen among others. Rather than engage in selective criminalization, it is time that the Government and all stakeholders came up with far reaching policies to stamp out this malady in the society.

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