Last week the news was full of a massive raid for pedophiles. Four teachers were involved (so far there have been more than 80 arrests nation-wide). Every time something like that happens (thank heaven, not very often) a wave of dismay, disgust and disbelief washes through my workplace. It doesn't matter what school I'm in, the emotions and questions are the same. How could anyone think for a minute that treating children like that coud be right? How could we (as in someone close to the people) not realise and stop it earlier? Those poor children.
We don't dwell on the topic long. It's too upsetting. Just the thought of what the children have gone through and still have to go through in their lives because of it squeezes the heart and brings tears. We move onto other macabre topics that can have a humourous (bizarre humour, that is) twist when viewed from the distance of years. Last week, Nola, a lady I work with, came out with a classic phrase: "The murderers I have taught with".
The woman should have a blog with that title. She has enough stories to keep it going at least twelve months if she blogs a couple of times a week. Last week we heard of a teacher who apparently killed his wife, chopped her into pieces and put her in a garbage bag in the boot (trunk) of his car. At the weekend he took members of his family on a bushwalk in a forest and while they went ahead, he dumped the body. Bizarre. (My apologies, Nola, if I have any of the facts wrong.)
It's amazing what people don't notice about others around them. Even if things are noticed, they're often dismissed. No one wants to intrude. No one wants to get involved. Everyone wants to believe there's some reasonable and logical explanation. No one wants to believe that ordinary looking people do terrible things. It would mean we'd have to suspect everyone. We'd have to admit our life isn't as safe as we want it to be.
On one radio show, I listened to the announcer suggest an interview during the application process for a blue card (child safety certificate) would identify dangerous people. Everyone in Australia who works with children has to have a 'blue card'. It's basically a criminal check to make sure no convicted pedophiles get jobs close to children. I'm still wondering how an interview would help. People are innocent until proven guilty. If they don't have a conviction we can't accuse without reasonable evidence. We can't conduct an interview and say "You look odd; I think you're a pedophile". It's not as if they have tattoos on their foreheads proclaiming it so.
I feel very strongly about children being treated well, but I also feel strongly about making sure we don't set up a system of discrimination or harassment in our efforts to protect them. The system might need a review and we all know the law is years behind the technology, but everyone's rights have to be protected, not only childrens'.
Knee-jerk reactions have to be avoided. Everyone (ie most people) is horrified and upset that such a thing can go on under our very noses but we have to make sure our reaction is responsible, reasonable and rational. Witch hunts don't work. All they do is set up situations so that society becomes a scary place. People become afraid to express themselves in case it's mis-interpreted. That's not what our democratic lifestyle is about.